A review of spatial datasets for wetland inventory in northern Australia

Supervising Scientist Report 178
J Lowry & CM Finlayson
Department of the Environment and Heritage 2004
ISSN 1325-1554
ISBN 0 642 24385 9



The increasing recognition of the economic and environmental importance of wetland ecosystems has stimulated renewed interest in mapping and identifying the distribution of wetlands around the world. In recent years, a variety of techniques have been developed to map the distribution of wetland ecosystems, at a variety of scales. Using ten datasets collated at global and regional scales, we compare estimates of wetland areas at a sub-continental scale, comprising, the bio-geographical region of northern Australia that is known as the 'Wet-Dry Tropics', and at a regional scale, Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. The datasets included both vector-based coverages and raster-based images and grids. Large variations were found in the estimates of wetland areas between the datasets for both study areas, with estimated spatial extent of wetlands in northern Australia ranging from 0 to 98,703 km2. We discuss the variations in the data extracted, and explore potential applications and the utility of the different datasets from a wetland management perspective.