National Wilderness Inventory

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

6. Concluding Remarks (continued)

6.4 The Future

This handbook has described the processes and data used in completing a national wilderness quality assessment. However, the wilderness quality assessments that have been produced cannot be regarded as final results. The NWI baseline survey of wilderness quality is only complete in the sense that there exists a continental wilderness quality assessment.

The NWI survey process is one which provides for the continual update and refinement of survey results. Improvements are planned in both critical areas governing the quality of survey results: the inclusion of more precise, accurate and complete primary data in NWI modelling; and refinement and improvement in modelling processes themselves.

This process of update and refinement is already taking place. For instance, the earliest survey work, completed in Victoria in 1986, has been superseded in 1994 by an update survey. In Victoria's East Gippsland and Central Highlands regions this update survey was completed in some detail producing a much more refined result compared to that previously existing. The interpretation of change is made somewhat complicated in that changes result from improved primary data (particularly in relation to inputs for Biophysical Naturalness), refined and adjusted analysis techniques, and change which has occurred in the Victorian landscape since previous survey work was completed.

Conservation science, community perceptions and valuations of nature, spatial information technology, and the physical environment have all changed dramatically since concerns for the conservation and use of remote and natural lands first gained currency this century. It is to be expected that change will continue in all areas at an increasing pace. Flexibility has been one of the key principles underpinning the NWI program and, with the emphasis of the program now passing beyond completion of a continental assessment of wilderness quality, it is important that the program retains sufficient flexibility to continue to evolve to meet these broader changes.

This evolutionary process may include taking advantage of improvements in the quality and availability of primary geographical data and advances in spatial information analysis as they occur. It should also include review of the use of the database to reflect changes in the role and relevance of remote and natural lands information in environment assessment.