A Classification of Tasmanian Estuaries and Assessment of their Conservation Significance using Ecological and Physical Attributes, Population and Land Use
Description and method logic
To classify and define conservation values of estuarine environments.
An inventory of Tasmanian estuaries and their catchments was developed to classify and categorise river systems and estuaries into groups based in geomorphological and hydrological attributes. This was then combined with landuse data, species diversity and species status to determine conservation significance.
After defining the boundaries of the catchments of Tasmanian estuaries and their associated river systems, estuaries were categorised into a number of groups based on similarities in geomorphological and hydrological attributes. This classification could not be based on biological information as it was not available for all estuaries and biological data typically characterised a site rather than encompassed the range of variation within any estuary.
The adequacy of the physical groups was assessed by comparison with invertebrate and fish data sets. Within each of the defined groups, human population and land use data were then used to assess the level of anthropogenic disturbance to each estuary and the estuary with least disturbance identified. Where more than one estuary within a group was considered 'pristine', the conservation significance of estuaries was separated using land tenure data. Estuaries with a higher percentage of their catchment in national parks were ranked higher than estuaries with other types of reserve, or crown land available for exploitation or private land. Estuaries were also assigned high conservation significance if they contained anomalously (deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected) high species diversity or included endangered species.
Estuarine habitats in a relatively undisturbed state that encompass the range of habitat types and biological diversity of Tasmanian estuaries were identified. They could be the basis of an integrated state wide system of protected estuarine areas.
Criteria groupings of the method
Classification of estuaries according to physical attributes could be used to assess biological significance. Disturbance could be estimated using population and land use.
Spatial datasets including catchment boundaries, estuary boundaries, river regulation or diversion, rainfall and runoff, geology, population, land tenure, land type, hydrological data and macroinvertebrate, plant and fish data.
Experts, GIS, multivariate analysis.
Access to GIS software, spatial datasets including catchment boundaries, estuary boundaries, river regulation or diversion, rainfall and runoff, geology, population, land tenure, land type, hydrological data and macroinvertebrate, plant and fish data.
Criteria by category
Physical and chemical
Management and planning
The method to be used by those with ecological, GIS and assessment knowledge.
The GIS and recommendations are useful for estuary managers, government agencies, local government, developers, NRM bodies, industry groups, and community groups.
Standard state wide datasets were used.
Biological datasets were limited to invertebrates and fishes.
Last updated: 7 February 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) A Classification of Tasmanian Estuaries and Assessment of their Conservation Significance using Ecological and Physical Attributes, Population and Land Use, WetlandInfo website, accessed 5 October 2022. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/a-classification-of-tasmanian-estuaries-and-assessment-of-their-conservation/