New tool released to celebrate wetlands

To celebrate World Wetlands Day, Fitzroy Basin Association has released a first of its kind, digital wetland assessment tool.

The tool contains significant quantities of data and captures the current knowledge and status of central Queensland’s pristine Shoalwater and Corio Bays. The bays form a 200,000ha Ramsar wetland stretching 330km along the coast north of Yeppoon, Queensland. The wetland contains diverse plant and animal species of special conservation importance and hosts many threatened species.

The Ramsar Management Advisory Group (RMAG) chaired by FBA Senior Environment Officer, Cassandra Tracey, worked for three years developing the tool.

“RMAG coordinates eight stakeholders who’ve been gathering field information that’s overlaid on mapping software. Combining data with mapping produces a tool which highlights many conditions of concern in one place,” said Ms Tracey.

FBA’s Senior Environment Officer, Cassandra Tracey with the digital wetland assessment tool

“Tool users can choose assets of interest, their precise location and view the current health of each component. It also lists threats that could affect the ecosystem.”

With the connectedness of wetlands, decisions of one management group can affect the outcomes of neighbouring management efforts. The digital tool promotes information sharing, decreases labour and increases the values of management choices on ecosystems.

“The toolkit is a powerful way to model the impact of decisions across wetland boundaries and helps everyone work collaboratively.”

“We expect it to be of service to wetland managers, environmental impact assessors, conservation and development planners, and researchers from natural and social science disciplines,” Ms Tracey shared.

The web-based tool is accessible to the public and hosted on the Shoalwater Corio Bays Ramsar Management website

RMAG is comprised of representatives from all land managers of the Shoalwater and Corio Bays Area site and includes: Darumbal Enterprises, Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries (Qld Govt), Department of Defence (Aust. Govt), Dept. of Environment – Wetlands Section (Aust Govt), Dept. of Environment and Science – Wetlands Section (Qld Govt)., Dept. of Environment and Science – Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Marine Parks (Qld Govt), Fitzroy Basin Association and Livingstone Shire Council.

The RMAG group is coordinated and chaired by Fitzroy Basin Association, through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust program.