Strategic assessments for biodiversity in Northern Australia

Date: 21, Jun, 2018
Author(s):   Brendan Wintle
Publisher: TSR Hub

Project 5.1 In 2014 the Australian Government announced an initiative for the economic development of northern Australia over a 20-year period. Soils across 17 million hectares are considered suitable for agriculture, but water resources could irrigate about one tenth of that area. The locations with soils best suited to agriculture are often areas with the highest biodiversity values, leading to potential conflicts. Ad-hoc development of areas on the best soils, closest to transport and existing settlements is likely to have a significant impact on other values such as biodiversity, carbon storage and tourism. Based on existing data, if all suitable soils were converted to agriculture, 3 threatened species would be lost in all their known locations, and 40 species and vegetation communities could lose more than 50% of their current distributions. Strategic assessments are important to identify trade-offs and synergies between potential land-uses and to identify potential development foot prints that minimise impacts to other values, such as biodiversity.