North Australian Remote Sensing and GIS Conference, Darwin
John Lowry & Mirjam Alewijnse
National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research, July 2005
Australia's tropical rivers and wetlands face renewed interest and pressures from multiple sources. As part of a broader program that's developing an integrated information base for the assessment of the ecological character of rivers in northern Australia, we have undertaken a multiple-scale inventory of the habitats and biota of the rivers, floodplains and estuaries of northern Australia using information from a variety of sources. This information will be used to make an initial assessment of the diversity, status and ecological value of aquatic ecosystems across the region. Our approach utilises the multiplescale model for inventory supported by the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. This approach integrates remotely sensed imagery and GIS datasets at different scales (e.g. biogeographical, catchment and site scales) for mapping purposes. Core and interlinked data sets necessary for describing the biological, chemical and physical characteristics of an aquatic ecosystem were compiled for each scale, and suitable habitat typologies developed. These typologies will provide a framework for predicting the possible occurrence of specific biota and habitats within previously unsurveyed areas. However, we recognize the need for further field sampling, particularly in those areas where biogeographical information for many aquatic species is not available. The inventory information collected in this study will provide information for policy and management implementation at multiple-scales eg regional, catchment, or individual habitat. Using this approach, the inventory data we have collected will be used to illustrate known areas of biodiversity importance and crucially, gaps in information.