Skip links and keyboard navigation

A landscape hazard assessment for wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment

Search fields


Department of Science, Information technology, Innovation and the Arts: Wetland Science for the Queensland Wetlands Program

Latest documentation


Designed for use in

Queensland, Australia



Assessment purpose

Processes and components, Values/Services

Assessment criteria

Physical and chemical, Ecosystem/habitat, Management and planning

Method type

Desktop, expert panel, consultation


Medium-long term – This broad-scale assessment of a large area like the GBR catchment would take up to 12 months.



Wetland system

Lacustrine, Palustrine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The assessment method provides a conceptual and operational framework for assessing land use hazard (potential for harm) to the functions and values of lacustrine and palustrine wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchment.


This assessment establishes hazards to wetlands from anthropogenic land-use within the landscape. It provides a mechanism for conceptually linking land-uses and pressures within the DPSIR (Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, Response) framework by:
  • establishing a characterisation of pressures arising from land-use and infrastructure drivers with the potential to affect palustrine and lacustrine wetland ecosystems and align land-use/pressures associations within the framework
  • providing weightings for functional land-use categories (based on the pressure characterisation) to be used in a wetland hazard mapping process
  • attributing each mapped wetland (based on the latest Queensland wetland mapping information) with a modelled level of hazard from land-use pressures
  • attributing hazard from individual pressures and overall hazard (for combined land-use and infrastructure) to all areas within the GBR catchment.

This broadscale GBR hazard assessment is undertaken at a landscape-scale as delineated by the chosen area of interest – the Great Barrier Reef catchment area.

Method logic

The underlying framework aims to establish causal linkages between:
  • land-use drivers
  • pressures
  • the state of wetlands.

The approach involves a number of key steps:
  • identifying and defining pressures to wetland ecosystems
  • developing a pressure charactrisation
  • grouping land-uses together based on their similarity
  • identifying infrastructure and finer scale land-uses driving pressures to wetlands (not accounted for in broadscale land-use mapping)
  • developing a pressure profile for each land-use group, assigning a land-use pressure weighting based on the strength of the relationship between the land use and each individual pressure 
  • generating a hazard score for each reporting ut based on its land-use composition and infrastructure content
  • generating maps for each pressure, combined land-use pressure, infrastructure pressure and combined land-use/infrastructure pressures.

This method assesses the potential ‘hazards’ to wetlands from land-use drivers and does not identify ‘risk’. A hazard is something likely to cause harm, in this case to a wetland. Risk, on the other hand, is the product of ‘likelihood’ and the ‘consequence’ of exposure to the hazard. At the landscape scale, at which the GBR assessment is conducted, the hazard arising from land-use is characterised.

Criteria groupings of the method

Input criteria is based on 15 land use groupings, and 22 individual pressures grouped into five broad classes: inputs (direct/indirect); harvesting; changes to the water regime; biological introductions and perpetuation; habitat disturbance/alteration.

Data required

  • Land-use and infrastructure mapping, Aquatic Conservation Assessment (ACA) and other spatial data.
  • Conceptual models linking land-use hazards to wetland pressures.
  • Expert and stakeholder information.

Resources required

Expertise required

High level expert knowledge of spatial analysis.

Materials required

Spatial and non-spatial data, a database platform for data storage, hazard assessment, a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform for result presentation and interpretation.

Method outputs


A mapped measure of hazard for each spatial unit, and a report.


  • Decision support.
  • Inform management interventions.
  • Prioritise targeted monitoring, and other management needs.
  • Input to monitoring and assessment reports for the GBR.
  • Disturbance characterisation and hazard assessment assisting prioritisations.

Criteria by category

    Physical and chemical

    • Changes to the water regime
      • Changes to natural surface water flow patterns
      • Groundwater abstraction or addition
      • Surface Water abstraction or addition
    • Inputs—direct/indirect
      • Acid inputs
      • Chemical and metal inputs
      • Hot/cold water inputs
      • Litter and rubbish inputs
      • Nutrient inputs
      • Organic matter inputs
      • Pesticide inputs
      • Saline inputs
      • Sediment inputs

    Management and planning

    • Land-use groupings
      • Aquaculture
      • Conservation and natural environments
      • Dryland cropping and horticulture
      • Extensive grazing
      • Intensive animal production
      • Intensively managed grazing
      • Irrigated cropping and horticulture
      • Manufacturing and industrial
      • Mining
      • Plantation forestry
      • Production from natural forests
      • Transport
      • Urban
      • Waste treatment and disposal
      • Water (artificial)


    • Biological introductions and perpetuation
      • Aquatic pest animal species
      • Aquatic pest plant species
      • Bacteria and pathogens
      • Buffer zone pest animal species
      • Buffer zone pest plant species
    • Habitat alteration/disturbance
      • Aquatic biota disturbance
      • Buffer zone biota disturbance
      • Landform or physical habitat disturbance
    • Harvesting
      • Animal biota harvesting
      • Plant biota harvesting


Recommended user

Outputs relevant to natural resource managers including regional NRM bodies, State government agencies and local government.


  • Widely applicable.
  • Cost effective, doesn't require any additional data collection.
  • Flexible.


  • Hazard levels come with a degree of subjectivity.
  • Not all hazards are considered (e.g. fire, hydrological connectivity).
  • Proximity to hazard not considered.
  • Uncertainty associated with spatial data quality, scale and conceptually.

Case studies

(not documented)



  1. Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (2015), A landscape hazard assessment for wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. [online], Queensland Government. Available at:

Last updated: 18 September 2020

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2020) A landscape hazard assessment for wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation