Northern Australian Floodplains
- Peter Bayliss
Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist
GPO Box 461
- Max Finlayson
International Water Management Institute
PO Box 2075
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS).
The Institute is a part of the Australian Federal Department of Environment
To provide information on the floodplain and coastal ecosystems and their
services of the tropical floodplains to the east of Darwin, Australia (Figure
1) (including the Mary and Alligator rivers, which encompass the World Heritage
and Ramsar Convention listed Kakadu National Park, and the Blythe-Liverpool
rivers in Arnhem Land), noting information needs and analyses at multiple
scales and taking into account multiple pressures on these ecosystems.
Figure 1. Study area for Northern Australia Floodplains
- Inventory/mapping- GIS multiple scale;
- Floodplain services- indigenous use, biodiversity, tourism, recreation,
fish stocks, mitigation of climate change, cattle grazing;
- Risk assessment of major pressures - invasive species, water pollution,
infrastructure, burning, climate change.
The project was linked with other assessment and management activities
being undertaken in the same location by indigenous people and park managers
with their own planning/reporting procedures.
The landscape analyses comprised sub-projects that addressed mapping
at scales from:
- Biogeographical or catchment scale: 1:100 000 to 1: 250 000
- Catchment scales 1:500 000 to 1:100 000
- Habitats/ river reaches 1:10 000
Risk assessment framework (modified from van Dam et al. 1999 and Ramsar
- Identification of the problem;
- Identification of the risk;
- Risk management/risk reduction;
A hierarchical approach to wetland inventory was used for the assessment
and is presented in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Hierarchical approach to wetland inventory.
The primary purpose of the landscape-scale analyses is to provide information
for managing the aquatic ecosystems within the region, noting that the responsibility
for management decisions is shared between local landholders, governmental
agencies, and resource managers. As the Institute does not directly manage
ecosystems or their services it is necessary to present research/assessment
outcomes in formats suitable for ready access by all stakeholders and decision-makers.
The Institute already operates a transparent system for access to data and
reports and specifically provides information to major stakeholders through
formal and informal reporting procedures. This includes but is not limited
to the Alligators Rivers Region Technical Committee. As a publicly-funded
institution, all information collected by the Institute is made available.
An annual report is presented and where possible information is published
in the scientific literature. Copyright is retained in the public domain
with publication in specific formats covered by non-exclusive permits.
On-going steps in the project include further consultation with participants,
advisors and stakeholders; collation and analysis of data based on both
current and previous projects; and communication in discussing and finalising
analyses and outcomes.
- Finlayson, C.M. 2005. Plant Ecology of Australia’s Tropical Floodplain
Wetlands: A Review. Annals of Botany 96: 541–555, 2005.
- Finlayson, C. Max, John Lowry, Maria Grazia Bellio, Suthidha Nou1,
Robert Pidgeon, Dave Walden, Chris Humphrey and Gary Fox. 2006. Biodiversity
of the wetlands of the Kakadu Region, northern Australia. Aquat. Sci
. 68 (2006) 374–399.
- Finlayson, C. Max and Rick A. van Dam. 2003. Developing Local Capacity
and Ensuring Relevance in Risk Assessment for Tropical Wetlands. Environmental
Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist ( eriss ), Darwin, NT,
Australia. SETAC Globe 2004. pages 36-38
- Finlayson, C. Max, Maria Grazia Bellio and John Lowry. 2005. A Conceptual
Basis for the Wise Use of Wetlands in Northern Australia-Linking Information
Needs, Integrated Analyses, Drivers of Change and Human Wellbeing. Marine
and Freshwater Research 56: 269-277. CSIRO Publishing.
- Supervising Scientist 2006. Ecological risk assessment of Magela
floodplain from diffuse landscape-scale threats and point source mining
threats. in Annual Report 2005-06, Supervising Scientist , Darwin. Pp.
- Finlayson, Max. Northern Australia Floodplains and Coastal Wetlands.