Landscape prioritisation: Maximising biodiversity outcomes through targeted investment
Natural resources management in NSW has undergone significant changes over the last few years. In early 2004, thirteen Catchment Management Authorities were established across NSW with the responsibility of preparing and implementing Catchment Action Plans (CAPs), assessing land clearing proposals and delivering on-ground incentive programs. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has an integral role in natural resource management in ensuring that the protection, maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity and threatened species are key stones in the development and implementation of CAPs and investment programs across all land tenures.
Landscape prioritisation is a key process developed by DEC for the Border Ranges Biodiversity Project managed by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority. The process provides a stepped framework from regional level landscape assessment of broad environmental health, including vegetation depletion, rarity and reservation status, to more detailed identification of areas of high conservation value vegetation. These areas can then be prioritised to meet project objectives and targets and maximise biodiversity investments.
The process incorporates and builds on the regional outputs from the Biodiversity Forecasting Tool, a geographical information system developed by DEC's GIS Research and Development Unit in Armidale. It provides a framework for 'value adding' to these regional outputs specific for individual project themes such as rainforest, old growth forests, wetlands or heathland by applying fine scale spatial data sets and agreed site selection criteria. As well, the process allows for the incorporation of expert opinion, perceived level of threats and site validation. Outputs from the process are map-based and provide for targeted marketing of the biodiversity project to landowners in areas identified as providing the highest biodiversity returns for investment.