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Great Western Woodlands Project

A Spatial Overview of Vegetation Mapping Extent for the Great Western Woodlands

Background

The Great Western Woodlands (GWW) has been identified as an area of significant ecological and economic importance. In recognition of the significance of the area, the state government released A Biodiversity and Cultural Conservation Strategy for the Great Western Woodlands in November 2012. As part of implementation of key strategies under the conservation strategy, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and South Coast Natural Resource Management Inc. (South Coast NRM) identified the need for a regional vegetation map dataset to help support the planning and management of the GWW. Currently the only vegetation map data that covers the GWW is the Beard 1:250,000 vegetation association map series. Although these data are valuable sources of information, they represent vegetation mapped at too coarse a scale to adequately inform many GWW management issues. Producing a fine scaled regional vegetation map is a large and resource intensive undertaking. However the presence of more detailed vegetation maps in a variety of published and unpublished sources provides the opportunity to consolidate finer scaled map data using existing information for the GWW.

In 2012 a project was initiated as a collaboration between DPaW and South Coast NRM to source, collate, assess and standardize such existing vegetation map information. This work aims to produce an integrated digital spatial dataset with a vegetation layer viewable through NatureMap. The project also aims to provide information about areas where vegetation data are deficient and frame guidelines for more effective data collection and interpretation to help further work in developing a regional vegetation map dataset for the GWW.

The project is partially funded through South Coast NRM - supported by the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia.

One of the key outputs from the project has been a spatial catalogue of vegetation source maps, providing a single point of enquiry for vegetation mapping across the Great Western Woodlands. Around 100 vegetation maps from more than 70 source documents have been compiled to produce a spatial overview of mapping extent within the GWW that can be viewed through Naturemap.

Currently, vegetation descriptions for many of these maps are also being standardised with reference to the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) to enable integration with a vegetation map spatial layer. This layer is planned for display in the future as a GWW theme component in Naturemap.

About the GWW vegetation map spatial extent layer

Many of the potential vegetation maps sourced for the project are in unpublished "hard copy" or non digital documents (so called "grey literature") of limited availability derived from Government, Non Government and Industry sources. Inevitably such sources of information vary in the date, scale, methods of capture, interpretation and description of mapped vegetation. Also, some mapped areas overlap in time and space.

Creating a "spatial extent" layer to identify the suitability, distribution and extent of these source maps has been an important step in the project. To do this required digitising hardcopy maps and giving them a standard geographic frame of reference (georeference) so they could be displayed and queried as a layer in a Geographic Information System (GIS) and web based spatial viewer, (Naturemap). The spatial extent layer makes it possible to find where maps are, who produced them, the area they cover, their relationship to each other as well as overlay with other data sets.

The maps displayed in the GWW vegetation map spatial extent layer have been digitised as a set of polygon features representing the boundary or extent of each georeferenced vegetation map. By selecting "Vegetation map extent" in the interactive map links under the Naturemap Great Western Woodlands Project Theme, a live map will be produced which can be explored.

Using the Identify tool a map feature can be selected to return a source reference identifier code number as well as the source reference citation. As some of these maps overlap, a selection may return several source references.

GWW vegetation map spatial extent layer metadata statement