Kennard, M.J (ed) for
Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the National Water Commission, July 2010
- Identifying high conservation value aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia - Interim report (PDF - 10.2 MB) | (Word - 60 MB)
- Part 1 (PDF - 4.1 MB) | (Word - 20.5 MB)
- Part 2 (PDF - 3.1 MB) | (Word - 23.5 MB)
- Part 3 (PDF - 6.5 MB) | (Word - 16.5 MB)
The nature and content of this report means that the downloadable files are unavoidably large.
If you are unable to download these files, you can contact the Water information hotline on 1800 218 478 to obtain the report on CD-ROM.
About this publication
Aquatic ecosystems of tropical northern Australia host a unique and diverse range of water-dependent plants and animals occurring across a range of hydrologic, geomorphic and topographic settings. Many aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia can therefore be considered to be of high conservation value. The challenge for managers is to objectively identify those that should be the focus of strategic investments and actions to protect and enhance these values in an efficient manner. To meet these needs a systematic approach to the identification and management of High Conservation Value Aquatic Ecosystems or HCVAEs is required. This approach should clearly appreciate the inherent differences between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the respective methods available for defining and measuring conservation value. To this end, the Aquatic Ecosystem Task Group was formed to develop a framework to identify and classify HCVAEs.
This interim report describes the outcomes of the first phase of the Northern Australia Aquatic Ecosystems project, a trial of the draft HCVAE Framework in aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia. The project is led by a team of researchers through the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) Commonwealth Environmental Research Facility in collaboration with the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA). The specific aims of the project are to identify key aquatic ecological assets in northern Australia and trial the draft HCVAE Framework to identify high conservation value aquatic ecosystems. This involves:
- Identifying, mapping and evaluating aquatic ecosystem characteristics in northern Australia based on the draft Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) classification scheme (Auricht, 2010)
- developing a method to apply and assess the draft HCVAE criteria that is based on the best available science and knowledge
- defining key knowledge gaps and making recommendations for further work to refine the draft HCVAE Framework
The project is being undertaken as part of the Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment (NAWFA). The NAWFA is an Australian Government initiative to provide the science needed for sustainable development and protection of northern Australia's water resources. The current project provides a broad-scale assessment of key aquatic ecological assets and identification of HCVAEs in tropical rivers of the northern Australia. This report focuses on aquatic ecosystems within Timor Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria drainage divisions (Chapter 2), though additional work is currently being conducted in the northern part of the North-East Coast drainage division.
The next phase of the project involves fine-scale assessments for key focal regions/catchments identified by the northern jurisdictions as high priority or planned development areas. The fine scale assessment will seek to understand ecological thresholds in relation to flow regimes and maintenance of particular aquatic ecosystem assets in terms of key ecological values, connectivity and ecosystem services. Results from the fine scale assessments will be made available through the project's Final Report which is due to be delivered in December 2010.