A landscape hazard assessment for wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment
Department of Science, Information technology, Innovation and the Arts: Wetland Science for the Queensland Wetlands Program
Designed for use in
Processes and components, Values
Physical and chemical, Ecosystem/habitat, Management and planning
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.
Description and method logic
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.
The underlying framework aims to establish causal linkages between:
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.
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.
High level expert knowledge of spatial analysis.
Spatial and non-spatial data, a database platform for data storage, hazard assessment, a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform for result presentation and interpretation.
A mapped measure of hazard for each spatial unit, and a report.
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
Chemical and metal inputs
Hot/cold water inputs
Litter and rubbish inputs
Organic matter inputs
Management and planning
Conservation and natural environments
Dryland cropping and horticulture
Intensive animal production
Intensively managed grazing
Irrigated cropping and horticulture
Manufacturing and industrial
Production from natural forests
Waste treatment and disposal
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
Aquatic biota disturbance
Buffer zone biota disturbance
Landform or physical habitat disturbance
Animal biota harvesting
Plant biota harvesting
Outputs relevant to natural resource managers including regional NRM bodies, State government agencies and local government.
Cost effective, doesn't require any additional data collection.
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.
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2020) A landscape hazard assessment for wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/a-landscape-hazard-assessment-for-wetlands-in-the-great-barrier-reef-catchment/