TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Priorities for identification and sustainable management of high conservation value aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia

TitlePriorities for identification and sustainable management of high conservation value aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsKennard, MJ
Date Published02/2011
InstitutionCharles Darwin University
CityDarwin
ISBN Number978‐1‐921576‐30‐0
Keywords5: Foodwebs and biodiversity
Abstract

This report includes results on three areas of work that increase our knowledge of significant aquatic ecosystems and ecosystem types, including estuaries, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

1. The impact of development alternatives on northern Australia aquatic ecosystems and aquatic biodiversity as appeared in the Northern Australia Land and Water Science Review 2009 (Chapter 2).

2. Broad‐scale assessment and prioritisation of aquatic ecological assets across northern Australia

We identified key aquatic ecological assets in northern Australia and trialed a draft Framework to identify High Conservation Value Aquatic Ecosystems (HCVAEs). Chapter 3 synthesises the outcomes of the broad‐scale assessment and prioritisation of aquatic ecological assets across northern Australia. This includes an evaluation of the HCVAE Framework and an application of alternative approaches to identifying high conservation value aquatic ecosystems.

3. Fine‐scale assessment and prioritisation of regional aquatic ecosystem assets

The project team held a series of regional expert panel workshops in cooperation with a range of government agencies (Chapter 4). The purpose was to identify Natural Heritage Values of wetlands in northern Australia and undertake fine scale assessments for high priority focal regions (or specific catchments) including:

  • The Gulf of Carpentaria Drainage Division.
  • For the NT Arafura Sea portion of the Timor Sea Drainage Division,
  • For the Kimberley portion of the Timor Sea Drainage Division

In Chapter 5 we canvas some key challenges for sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia. In particular, we evaluate the concept of ecological thresholds and how useful it is for informing environmental management to sustain ecosystem values.

We review approaches to estimating socioeconomic costs of different management actions and how these can be prioritised in a systematic and hierarchical framework (the concept of multiple management zones). Monitoring is a key component of adaptive management, however monitoring practices have generally been poorly connected with decision‐making and this has led to an inability to assess the effectiveness or efficiency of the conservation management actions. We therefore present several frameworks to guide if, why, when and how monitoring should be implemented and how the outcomes of the monitoring will feed into adaptive management of HCVAEs in northern Australia.

Finally, in Chapter 6 we identify and synthesise key knowledge gaps and next steps.