Methods - Indigenous Estate and Biodiversity
Hotspot biodiversity maps made up of species of conservation concern (i.e. critically endangered/endangered (classification depends on jurisdiction and Act), vulnerable, and near threatened as listed by Federal and Northern Territory governments) were used with maps showing land which is formally recognised for Indigenous land rights and interests within the Indigenous estate and biodiversity case study. These hotspot maps were created for functional groups, or groups of taxa with similar conservation listings and indicate which areas may be in particular need of certain sets of conservation actions, how adequate current protected areas are for the conservation of certain groups, and/or how the distribution of threatened taxa corresponds to general distributions of biodiversity. Hotspot maps were created by summing all unique species within each pre-defined group predicted to be present in each grid cell (according to 250 m resolution vetted-occupied vetted-threshold model versions) from the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) 3.3 Project1. Those pixels with a high number of species of concern were termed hotspots. Outputs were clipped to the Darwin study area and intersected with land deemed to have formally recognised Indigenous rights and interests2,3,4,5.
More detail on methods is provided in the accompanying Methods Report (Stokes et al. 2019).
The examples provided in this case study do not seek (Indigenous estate and biodiversity case study) to replace formal government or Traditional Owner land use and conservation planning processes. They are designed to show how government can maximise its use of data assets from multiple sources, integrating them in ways which can provide policy insights. Formal land use planning and conservation planning is a complex process involving substantial stakeholder consultation and input, defined objectives for conservation and other purposes, articulation of biodiversity values and trade-offs and the need to consider not only where biodiversity can be currently found but where it may be found in the future due to landscape, ecological, climate and other changes.
Note that the NESP data used are a research output and may not align with the Australian Government distribution models which underpin the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Both development referrals and Commonwealth investment for biodiversity outcomes use the Australian Government species distribution models as a default, with further specific ecological reporting required from proponents for decision making.
Data sets used in this case study (Indigenous estate and biodiversity case study)
Data sets used in this study included “Biodiversity Hotspot Maps of Terrestrial and Freshwater Taxa of Conservation Concern in Northern Australia” from NESP project 3.31 which show concentrations, or richness, of critically endangered/endangered, vulnerable, and near threatened species within 11 different taxonomic and functional groups. The resultant maps showed areas of high habitat suitability and those areas which were rich in taxa of conservation concern. These high biodiversity maps were then intersected with a map showing formally recognised Indigenous land rights and interests. This map was created by combining Indigenous cultural heritage data2, registered Indigenous Land Use Agreements3, Aboriginal land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and Aboriginal land (Northern Territory enhanced freehold)4 and protected areas under Indigenous management or joint management5.