As part of the Sustainable Regional Development program for the Lower Hunter Region, the local government identified two key knowledge gaps. The first was a gap in the vegetation mapping of the Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA) and the second was a single, consolidated vegetation map for the region.
Also known as the Hunter Valley, the Hunter Region and is approximately 120 km north of Sydney. It is one of the largest river valleys in New South Wales and is well known for its wineries and coal industry. The Lower Hunter is Australia’s sixth largest urban area with a population that’s expected to keep growing as people are attracted to the region’s lifestyle.
Identifying and Filling the Gaps
WSP completed vegetation mapping for the areas within Cessnock LGA because it lacked detailed mapping. We also created a consolidated vegetation map for the Lower Hunter region and identified High Priority Conservation Areas. During stakeholder consultation and expert workshops, the team identified available data and potential gaps, obtaining feedback and general agreement from the community on methods and results.
Setting a New Standard Using Technology
Our team used the Rapid Data Point survey methodology during their fieldwork to refine the vegetation mapping within Cessnock LGA. They reviewed existing mapping with the region and integrated it with the new data into a single product.
Our team standardised the vegetation mapping using Plant Community Types defined by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. We also used GIS modelling to identify High Priority Conversation Areas and Key Threatening Processes within the region.
Supporting Regional Sustainability
Our work was completed effectively, efficiently and within a tight timeframe. The mapping will help to support regional sustainability planning in the Lower Hunter. The new information is presented in a single map, which also identifies threatened ecological communities and species. This makes it easier for government and industry to plan future developments with full knowledge of the region’s environmental assets.