In November 2009, AWS was commissioned to remotely assess logging rates of an area under a selective logging regime. By extrapolating the rate of logging to an intact adjacent rainforest estimations of potential carbon savings which would accrue from altered forest management that prevents logging may be possible.
Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyse remotely sensed data (Landsat ETM), logging disturbance was detected. Data from six Landsat ETM images (1989-2009) and Forest Inventory Mapping (FIM) were used to calculate the logging rate of the merchantable forest. Applying the Reference Area rate of logging to the Project Area, we estimated the potential forest disturbance due to logging in the Project Area. GIS analysis of remotely sensed data was found to be an appropriate method for detecting forest canopy change and disturbance. Landsat ETM images with low cloud cover were adequate to discern change through time.
Nevertheless there were significant methodological constraints and assumptions that introduce errors in the assessment, but they were made conservatively and therefore are likely to lead to underestimates rather than overestimates.
AWS Director George Wilson and Graham Webb of Wildlife Management International Pty Ltd led a working group that prepared a paper on Science and Research for northern Australia. The paper was prepared as input to the Australia 21 Project on the Future Development of Northern Australia.
The need for the paper came out of high level dialogue convened by Australia 21 in April 09, when 37 experts from industry, government, and academia, both from the North and the South and from the three jurisdictions that administer the North, met to explore the principles that should guide future development of the North in the interest of all Australians.
The group endorsed 6 principles it believed should guide future development of the North and could underpin a coordinated new strategy for development of the North.
The paper explores the fourth of these principles, that “planning and management for Northern development should be well informed by science and research and by an inventory of what is valuable with respect to the natural resources of Northern Australia”.
The paper was submitted to the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce call for submissions in September 2009. The Taskforce is considering the broad range of sustainable development opportunities for northern Australia that are based on water resource availability. It is also considering the potential impact of such development on the underlying water balance and water quality, and on the natural environment, existing water users and the broader community.