Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Values Study in the Cessnock Local Government Area and Surrounds



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Stakeholder consultation


An expert workshop was held on the 12 March by Alex Cockerill, Toby Lambert and facilitated by stakeholder engagement consultant Meriana Baxter. Attendees included Paul Keighley (SEWPaC), Lucas Grenadier (OEH), Richard Coleburn (NPWS), Brooke Jackson (NPWS), Steve Wright (NPWS), Ian Turnbull (Cessnock City Council), Jacqueline Reid (NPWS/GBMWHA Advisory Committee), Martin Fallding (GBMWHA Advisory Committee) and Brad Staggs (GBMWHA Advisory Committee) Other key stakeholders unable to attend were invited to provide comments and input. Outcomes of the expert workshop included:

identification of relevant available literature

likely conservation priority areas in the Cessnock LGA in relation to World Heritage values

potential complementary areas and values in Cessnock LGA

input into the priority conservation mapping methodology

input into relevant management issues, including existing threats to the GBMWHA.

Additional stakeholder engagement has occurred with CCC, OEH/NPWS, SEWPaC staff and the GBMWHA Advisory Committee throughout the project.

      1. Priority conservation mapping


The aim of the mapping process is to identify areas of high priority conservation significance within the Cessnock LGA that are complementary in biodiversity values to the GBMWHA.

An initial set of parameters was discussed at the expert workshop. A consolidated set of parameters was then refined and relative weightings were adopted. These weightings were applied to each parameter for modelling in the mapping process.

Table 2. outlines the parameters and weightings that were used to identify the priority conservation areas. It should be noted that the mapping process was tenure-blind and therefore treated all land, regardless of ownership, equally.

A model based on an Analytical Hierarchy Process was adopted to rank and weight each parameter used in the model. The parameter was assigned individual values (e.g. 1 to 3) where sub criteria needed to be considered or a true-false (0 or 1) classification. Following the ranking process each criteria was assigned a multiplier value dependant on its relative importance in the model. The aggregate score was the combined sum of the different criteria values. The criteria scores and associated weightings are provided in Table 2.3.

The focus of the parameters for the priority conservation mapping was targeted towards the primary World Heritage criteria as outlined in Section 1.3.

As a result of this approach the parameters of biodiversity, threatened species, threatened communities and eucalypt diversity were given the highest weighting factors for the priority conservation mapping (Table 2.).

Table 2. Conservation priority mapping parameters and weighting

  1. Parameter

Description

  1. Weighting

  1. Data set and approach

  1. Eucalypt diversity rating

  1. Eucalypt diversity was a primary factor in declaration of the existing World Heritage Areas by the World Heritage Committee. Eucalypt diversity is not necessarily reflected by the threatened status of a vegetation type, although it has intrinsic value providing complex habitats and a high level of biodiversity.

  1. 6

  1. Consolidated vegetation mapping prepared by Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013a) for the Cessnock LGA for the related Lower Hunter project.

  2. Vegetation types were classified into three conditions:

13.High (3) – vegetation communities that occur in GBMWHA and occur within the Cessnock LGA

14.Medium (2) – eucalypt dominated vegetation communities



15.Low (1) non-eucalypt dominated communities.

  1. EPBC Act listed or nominated Threatened Ecological Communities

  1. A number of vegetation types are listed or nominated at the Commonwealth level as being threatened. These are considered high priority biodiversity values that would be complementary to the World Heritage values within the World Heritage Area.

  1. 6

  1. The related two Lower Hunter vegetation mapping projects being undertaken for SEWPAC by Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013a and 2013b) provided the most accurate information of occurrence of threatened ecological communities. Vegetation was modelled and scored as either threatened (1) or non-threatened (0).

  1. TSC Act listed or nominated Threatened Ecological Communities

  1. A number of vegetation types are listed at the State level as being threatened. These are considered high priority biodiversity values that would be complementary to the World Heritage values within the World Heritage Area.

  1. 5

  1. The Lower Hunter project being undertaken by Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013a) provided the most accurate data for the Cessnock LGA of vegetation types listed under the TSC Act.

  2. Vegetation was modelled and scored as either threatened (1) or non-threatened (0).

  1. Connectivity specifically to World Heritage Area boundary

  1. Direct connectivity of native vegetation to the existing World Heritage Area is considered to be an important factor in determining lands that have complementary values to the World Heritage Area and that may be priority areas.

  1. 5

  1. Parsons Brinckerhoff identified vegetation directly connecting to the existing World Heritage Area, using the latest 2013 Cessnock LGA mapping (Parsons Brinckerhoff 2013a). This was modelled and scored as patches either being directly connected to the World Heritage Areas or not.

  1. Proximity to existing World Heritage Area boundary

  1. Areas that might not be directly connected to the existing World Heritage Areas but that are in close proximity in general are likely to have higher complementary values than those areas that do not have any relationship with the World heritage Areas at all.

  1. 5

  1. Parsons Brinckerhoff identified vegetation in proximity to the existing World Heritage Area, using the latest 2013 Cessnock LGA mapping (Parsons Brinckerhoff 2013a). This was modelled and scored as either being proximal to the World Heritage Areas or not. A nominal figure of 5 km was used as the definition of ‘proximal’ for this project. Patches in their entirety were classed as proximal regardless if the full extents were beyond 5 km.

  1. Threatened flora habitat value

  1. The occurrence of threatened flora and related habitat is considered of high importance and forms a complementary value to the World Heritage Area values.

  1. 3

  1. The NSW Atlas of Wildlife Database records were used to identify patches that are known to contain threatened flora under the TSC and EPBC Acts. This was modelled and scored as patches either containing threatened flora or not containing threatened flora. A recognised limitation of this method was the intensity of surveys being skewed towards populated areas. Entire community polygon flagged as 1 (positive) or 0 (negative).

  1. Threatened fauna habitat value

  1. The occurrence of threatened fauna and related habitat is considered of high importance and forms a complementary value to the World Heritage Area values.

  1. 3

  1. The NSW Atlas of Wildlife Database records were used to identify patches that are known to contain threatened fauna under the TSC and EPBC Acts. This was modelled and scored as patches either containing threatened fauna or not containing threatened fauna. A recognised limitation of this method was the intensity of surveys being skewed towards populated areas. Entire community polygon flagged as 1 (positive) or 0 (negative).

  1. Biometric tool percentage cleared vegetation

  1. Whilst “percentage cleared” in many ways translates into whether a vegetation type is listed as threatened or not, a number of vegetation types that are not listed as threatened have still been overcleared and are of importance to complementary biodiversity values in the Cessnock LGA.

  1. 1

  1. The biometric data and mapping from NSW CMA was used to consider the presence of overcleared vegetation. This was modelled and scored as patches either being overcleared or not. Communities classified based on ecologist review. Communities given a value of 1(over 75%) or 0 (under 75%).

  1. Patch size

  1. Patch size is a consideration when considering integrity of native vegetation within each patch. Generally, the greater the patch size, the greater the integrity or condition. Vegetation integrity is a valid consideration in relation to World Heritage values as it reflects general biodiversity values of patches.

  1. 1

  1. Vegetation mapping was derived from the Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013a) project. The vegetation dataset dissolved together into larger patches of adjacent communities. Patch areas were categorised as over 500 ha (3), 100 – 500 ha (2) or <100 ha (1). Vegetation communities were overlayed with the larger patch sizes to determine which patch size class they belong to.

  1. Habitat connectivity

  1. Habitat connectivity is considered to be important for native flora and fauna and genetic exchange.

  1. 1

  1. Multiple products were included in mapping process. These were:

OEH regional north coast key corridors

Cessnock Biodiversity Management plan ‘Landscape Conservation Corridors’



  1. Using spatial analysis the communities of habitat corridor for each overlapping vegetation area was determined. A coverage percentage was calculated and any vegetation community that was covered by a percentage of 50% or more was defined as a community supporting a habitat corridor (1). All other areas were defined as not supporting a habitat corridor (0).

  1. Riparian value

  1. There is a riparian and corresponding aquatic aspect to the World Heritage Criteria for which the existing World Heritage Area was listed. Riparian (aquatic) values need to be considered as part of the mapping process as they do provide complementary values to the World Heritage Areas.

1

  1. NSW 1:25,000 drainage line mapping data. Approach is to buffer existing drainage lines by the NSW standard of 40 metres either side. This was modelled and scored as land either being within these riparian buffers or not.

  2. Using spatial analysis the communities of riparian corridor for each overlapping vegetation area was determined. A coverage percentage was calculated and any vegetation community that was covered by a percentage of 50% or more was defined as a community supporting a riparian corridor (1). All other areas were defined as not supporting a riparian corridor (0).

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