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The adequacy of the existing reserve system for the protection of freshwater ecosystems Janet Stein Fenner School of Environment and Society.

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Presentation on theme: "The adequacy of the existing reserve system for the protection of freshwater ecosystems Janet Stein Fenner School of Environment and Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 The adequacy of the existing reserve system for the protection of freshwater ecosystems Janet Stein Fenner School of Environment and Society

2 The National Reserve System (NRS) 9,000 reserves 11.64% of the land area (90 million ha) 8.4% IUCN class I to IV strict protection for nature conservation IBRA planning framework  Priority regions for new reserves  12.6 million ha added 2002 to 2006 Source: CAPAD 2002 & 2006 (Department of the Environment, Water and Heritage and the Arts )

3 The National Reserve System and the conservation of Australian riverine ecosystems 1. Does the NRS provide a comprehensive and adequate protected area system for river and stream ecosystems?  representation of rivers and river types (combined biogeographic / river landscape classification) as surrogate river ecosystems, replication 2. Is IBRA a suitable planning framework for rivers and streams?  have new reserves added since 2002 improved the level of protection of rivers and river ecosystems?

4 Protected streams and basins  Entire river systems rarely protected  4 basins with area >500km 2 protected from source to outlet Proportion of drainage basin in an IUCN class I to IV protected area Davey River Old River Marangarrayu (West Alligator) River Mason Gully Topographically defined drainage basins

5 Length of protected stream  Total length of stream within a reserve: 271,000km (9.2% of 2.9M km at map scale 1:250,000)  225,000km (7.6%) in an IUCN class I to IV reserve  Between 2002 and 2006 extra 32,000km (+ 13.4%) extra 17,000km IUCN I to IV (+8.4%)

6 Protected rivers and streams  Medium size streams (creeks) under represented  Much of reserved length potentially threatened by major instream barriers and/or has unprotected headwater sections  New reserves not fully protecting streams

7 Comprehensively protecting riverine ecosystems?  No national inventory of river ecosystems biogeographic / river landscape classification maps surrogate ecosystems  Biogeographic classification: TNC/WWF Freshwater Ecoregions of the World reflect the effects of historical processes that limit the pool of species within a river  River Landscape classification: River Environment Types (Stein,2007) describe associations of environmental factors (climate, topography, geology etc.) that drive the pattern of flow, channel morphology, substratum, temperature and mineral nutrients that collectively define the physical habitat template of stream ecosystems

8 Freshwater Ecoregion/River Environment Types represented in the NRS (IUCN I to IV protected area)  Combined classifications: 13,500 types majority unrepresented  Trend improving 762 additional types sampled in more types with greater than 20% protected length

9 Freshwater Ecoregion/River Environment Types represented in the NRS (with protected upper catchment/no dams up or downstream)  Little improvement if stricter criteria for protection >80% types still not protected  “ Rare” types ~50% types < 10km total length artefacts?

10 Freshwater Ecoregion/River Environment Types represented in the NRS (protected upper catchment/no dams, total length > 10km)  70% not protected  < 7% types achieve minimum target 20% protected length

11 Assessing adequacy: reservation targets TARGET = 20% + ( 10% * NR ) (Modified after Pressey et.al 2004) Where: TARGET = reservation goal as percentage of River Type (length)

12 Combined ecoregions/river environment types : progress towards target

13 Combined ecoregions/river environment types : progress towards target (protected upper catchment/no dams downstream)

14 Combined ecoregions/river environment types : proportion of undisturbed stream length remaining required to achieve targets  River Disturbance Index (Stein et al 2002) summarises potential impact of human activities: instream (dams, weirs, levees, flow diversions) catchment (landuse, point sources, logging, settlement, infrastructure)

15 Adequacy: Replication Numbers of ecoregion/river environment types represented in a protected area in more than one drainage basin Number of types Represented in NRS at least once (% of 13,515) 8,352 (62%) 9,114 (67%) Represented in NRS from > 1 drainage basin (% of 7,198) 2,197 (31%) 2,336 (32%)

16 Representation of threatened and endangered ecosystems Total no. No. types represented in an IUCN class I to IV protected area Threatened Endangered  Status assigned using NRS criteria developed for forest types  Threatened: < 30% original extent River Disturbance Index threshold used to identify extant examples  Endangered: < 10% original extent

17 Limitations and uncertainties Preliminary results-opportunities for improvements River Environment Types  characterization of landscape processes  data quality and consistency Biogeographic classifications for different functional groups Nested assessments: continental->regional -> catchment  Incorporate biological data  Spatial surrogates for critical processes (hydrological, geomorphological, ecological and evolutionary) Measuring adequacy  Moving beyond simple percentage targets and the degree of replication

18 Conclusions The NRS does not provide a comprehensive and adequate protected area system for Australian rivers and streams  for some river ecosystem types few remaining options Protecting entire catchments will be difficult  a range of complimentary “off-reserve” protection measures needed IBRA planning framework has not produced a substantial improvement in the comprehensiveness or adequacy of the NRS for rivers and streams (despite a large investment in new reserves)  Not recognizing threatening processes occurring outside of protected areas  % land area protected not a good indicator for river ecosystem protection

19 Thank you


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