Groundwater ecosystems featured in new atlas

Photo of Mound Spring Oodnadatta track. Copyright Luke Doherty

Mound Spring Oodnadatta track. Copyright Luke Doherty

An online atlas creating a consistent, national inventory of groundwater dependent ecosystems was launched in Canberra on 11 September 2012 by the Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator the Hon Don Farrell.

The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Atlas, available on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website, is designed to help planners and decision-makers balance the need for development with the protection of groundwater sources and their dependent ecosystems.

The Director of Meteorology, Dr Rob Vertessy, described the atlas as drawing together 'a rich font of information' from State and Territory water agencies. 'The States contributed a huge amount of information,' he said, 'from a legion of water and environmental managers with expertise in groundwater hydrology and ecosystems.'

The atlas details ecosystems that will be significantly changed or degraded if groundwater availability is altered beyond its normal range of fluctuation. Such ecosystems are important for their ecological, conservation and biodiversity value, as well as social and economic factors. Some groundwater dependent ecosystems, such as riparian forests, provide pathways for animals that move across otherwise fragmented landscapes. Others, such as rivers and wetlands, also attract tourists and support fishing, birdwatching and recreation.

The atlas was recognised for its excellence in the ‘Spatial Enablement’ category of the 8th Annual Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in August 2012.

The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Atlas is a flagship project under the National Water Commission’s Raising National Water Standards Program. It was developed by the National Water Commission, SKM, CSIRO, Cogha and the Bureau of Meteorology with input from each State and Territory as part of the National Groundwater Action Plan.

Access the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Atlas