National Wilderness Inventory

Australia: Our national stories
Australian Heritage Commission, 2003
ISBN 0 642 23561 9

6. Concluding Remarks (continued)

6.3 Primary Data

The second major factor upon which NWI wilderness quality assessments depend is the quality and content of the primary data used in running the wilderness quality assessment model. The degree of confidence that can be placed in wilderness quality assessments will only be as good as the confidence that can be placed in the primary data.

As will be evident from this handbook, the primary database prepared for the national survey varies widely in its accuracy and precision. It comprises the best available data for the survey, given the resource constraints of the national survey. In some areas the primary information base is very complete, providing results which may be regarded with confidence (for instance in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area), but in other areas the primary database represents only the barest information set from which to produce wilderness indicator values.

Consequently, and notwithstanding previously raised issues regarding modelling assumptions and processes, particular care must be exercised in applying survey information to real-world uses. As a general principle the primary data used for the baseline NWI survey have produced results that are of consistent suitability for strategic and contextual evaluation purposes. That is, the primary data which currently support wilderness quality assessments have a level of detail and reliability that satisfy requirements for national and regional evaluations of the distribution of wilderness quality, and the identification of local areas with potential for wilderness restoration. However, where there is interest in specific site conditions, (particularly for site evaluation and management planning purposes) results generally should not be relied upon.

Where such uses of the wilderness database are required special attention should be given to the content of the primary database.