Australia: Our national stories
Australian Heritage Commission, 2003
ISBN 0 642 23561 9
3. The Primary Database
3.1 Compiling the Primary Database
The largest task in undertaking the NWI baseline survey involved assembling and compiling primary data.
The majority of primary data required for wilderness analysis is basic infrastructure and land use information, much of which did not exist as accessible data sets at the time survey work was occurring. Consequently, a large component of the work required for the baseline NWI survey was assembling a number of major geographical data sets.
For example, as a part of the data compilation process, a national data set of the presence and absence of natural land cover (or remnant native vegetation) was produced. This was an essential data set for wilderness assessment, but it is also a fundamental piece of information for almost any other type of nature conservation assessment. It is a useful spin-off of the project.
Even where suitable information did exist, often very little of it was in a form suitable for direct input into analysis, as a basic requirement of data for use in the NWI is that it be in digital form. This situation is presently changing with the increasing availability of basic geographical data in digital form. This promises to greatly facilitate programs such as the NWI, both in terms of increased speed of work and reduced cost.
The most recent instance of improved digital data availability is the Australian Survey and Land Information Group's (AUSLIG) 'Topo-250K Geodata' which is a complete 1:250 000 digital topographic data set for Australia. The NWI has made good use of this data set in its latest work in New South Wales and Western Australia.
This part of the handbook provides an overview of the data sources and processes used in compiling the NWI primary database. The detailed descriptions of these data sources and processes are provided for each state in the appendices.