River Styles Framework

River Styles Framework

River Styles

River Styles Infographic

2018 Engagement and Impact Ratings

Riverstyles Engagement and Impact Graphic

Impact Summary

Rivers in Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Asia are being managed more effectively through the use of the River Styles Framework, a set of geomorphic procedures and tools developed at Macquarie University to interpret river character, behaviour, condition and recovery potential.

Over 225,735 kilometres of stream length in New South Wales (NSW) and some 28,000 kilometres overseas has been assessed using the Framework. Highlights include adoption by the European Union, integration into management planning for America’s iconic Colombia River, and use in India’s Ganga Basin, home to over 45 million people.

Use of the Framework has generated significant improvements in river health throughout New South Wales and overseas, making catchment management more sustainable and benefiting millions.

Impact Leaders

Kirstie Fryirs Kirstie Fryirs
Macquarie University
Gary Brierley Gary Brierley
Adjunct Professor
Macquarie University


  • State Government Agencies
  • Australian Commonwealth Government
  • Local Government
  • Community-based conservation and environmental management groups
  • Catchment management authorities and communities
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Environmental graduates

Countries where impact occurred

River Styles World Map Impact

Key collaborators and end-users

River Styles Partner logos

  • NSW Catchment Management Authorities
  • Victorian Catchment Management Authorities
  • Local Governments across Australia
  • Landcare, Rivercare and Bushcare community groups

Professional training options

Training in the River Styles Framework is offered via a 5-day professional short course on analysis of river character and behaviour (for accreditation), 2-3 day short course on river condition and recovery potential, and 1-day industry-hosted workshops on introduction to fluvial geomorphology and introduction to the River Styles Framework. For further information visit www.riversyles.com. Training is offered in Australia and internationally.

Approach to impact at Macquarie University

Macquarie University has supported the River Styles Framework through developing its underpinning research and supporting its business activities. Multiple parts of the University have enabled the Framework by developing and delivering a value proposition to end-users. Impact is achieved largely by providing end-user training using a suite of proprietary material.

The University gave vital early funding support to the research on which the Framework is based and consistently helped the Framework to attract funding, particularly ARC Linkage grants.

Macquarie University incubated the River Styles Framework so that by 2016 the program was able to fund itself almost entirely through external revenue, primarily through professional training courses and accreditation delivered in Australia and overseas.

Research associated with impact

The River Styles Framework is founded on pure research on river forms and processes, geomorphic river responses to human-disturbance, interpretation of river evolution, condition and recovery, and forecasting river trajectories and responses to future pressures. Research on the River Styles Framework culminated in a book published by Blackwell in 2005. Two subsequent books have been published by Island Press (2008) and John Wiley and Sons (2013) and over 55 peer-reviewed journal papers relate to River Styles.

Interdisciplinary research has examined the links between fluvial geomorphology and habitat availability, riparian vegetation dynamics and river ecology. Applied research with end-users has shown how the geomorphology that underpins the River Styles Framework can be used in river management prioritisation, planning, policy and practice, and as a transformative communication tool.

The research has been conducted by Prof Gary Brierley and Prof Kirstie Fryirs and their teams. Since 2002, Prof Brierley has held full-time and Adjunct Professor roles at Macquarie University and Prof Fryirs has been full-time at Macquarie University. Four postdoctoral fellows, 10 PhD, >20 Masters and 25 Honours completions conducted River Styles related research from 2002 to 2016. Multiple end-user partner investigators have also undertaken, and co-published, research as part of the River Styles initiative.

References and further reading


Fryirs, K.A. and Brierley, G.J. 2013. Geomorphic Analysis of River Systems: An approach to Reading the Landscape. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

Brierley, G.J. and Fryirs, K.A. (Eds.) 2008. River Futures: An Integrative Scientific Approach to River Repair. Island Press, Washington DC.

Brierley, G.J. and Fryirs, K.A. 2005. Geomorphology and River Management: Applications of the River Styles Framework. Blackwell Publications, Oxford, UK.

Journal articles

Fryirs, K.A.and Brierley, G.J. 2018. What’s in a name? A naming convention for geomorphic river types using the River Styles Framework. PLoSONE. 13(9):e0201909.

Fryirs, K. and Brierley G.J. 2016. Assessing the geomorphic recovery potential of rivers: Forecasting future trajectories of adjustment for use in river management. WIREsWater. 3, 727-748.

Kasprak, A., Hough-Snee, N., Beechie, T., Bouwes, N., Brierley, G., Camp, R., Fryirs, K.,Imaki, H., Jensen, M., O’Brien, G., Rosgen, D.L. and Wheaton, J.M. 2016. The Blurred Line between form and process: A comparison of stream channel classification frameworks. PLoSONE. 11(3): e0150293

Fryirs, K. 2015. Developing and using geomorphic condition assessments for river rehabilitation planning, implementation and monitoring. WIREs Water. 2(6), 649-667.

Brierley, G.J., Fryirs, K., Cullum, C., Tadaki, M.Huang, H.Q. and Blue, B. 2013. Reading the landscape: Integrating the theory and practice of geomorphology to develop place-based understandings of river systems. Progress in Physical Geography. 37(5), 601-621.

Fryirs, K. 2013. (Dis)connectivity in catchment sediment cascades: A fresh look at the sediment delivery problem. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, State of Science Series. 38, 30-46.

Brierley, G.J., Fryirs, K., Cook, N., Outhet, D., Raine, A., Parsons, L. and Healey, M. 2011. Geomorphology in Action: Linking policy with on-the-ground actions through applications of the River Styles framework. Applied Geography, 31, 1132-1143.

Brierley, G.J., Fryirs, K., Outhet, D., and Massey, C. 2002. Application of the River Styles framework to river management programs in New South Wales, Australia. Applied Geography, 21, 91-122.

More Information

For more information about the River Styles Framework, please visit:

River Styles website
2018 ERA Ratings

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