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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Qld ecosystems mapped and online in world-leading science achievement

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Tuesday, May 30, 2017

    Qld ecosystems mapped and online in world-leading science achievement

    Queensland Government scientists have developed the first fully-comprehensive map and information systems for the state’s regional ecosystems, providing a detailed picture of our diverse native vegetation.

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said today (Tuesday) the Queensland regional ecosystem information, classification and mapping program was a huge scientific accomplishment.

    Ms Enoch said this latest version of the regional ecosystems mapping program was the first version to cover the entire state.

    “Queensland is a massive state, covering 1.73 million square kilometres. We are five times the size of Germany and greater in area than all but 17 countries in the world,” she said.

    “The state encompasses a wide variety of landscapes, from temperate to tropical to arid zones. Across all these, we have 13 bioregions representing a diverse range of vegetation types, from arid grasslands to coastal heathlands and dry sclerophyll forests to tropical rainforests.

    “Within each bioregion there can be a hundred or more regional ecosystem types – so the task of surveying and mapping all this is very complex.”

    Ms Enoch said the program included both mapping of pre-clearing regional ecosystems and remnant ecosystems present in 2015 for Queensland’s 1461 regional ecosystems.

    “These regional ecosystem maps have been released about every two years since the late 1990s,” she said. “The first version covered about 40 per cent of the state.

    “As work progressed, each update increased coverage across the state, incorporating improvements to mapping and regional ecosystem classification, and documenting changes to remnant native regional ecosystems caused by vegetation clearing.”

    Scientists from the Queensland Herbarium have delivered the program over the past 20 years. More than two million kilometres of roads and remote tracks have been traversed throughout all corners of the state and detailed vegetation data collected from more than 30,000 representative sites.

    “This long-term comprehensive program has been delivered through the innovative and efficient use of technology and the scientific skills of very capable and talented staff,” Ms Enoch said.

    “In addition, many parties have supported the mapping, including local government, regional natural resource management bodies and Commonwealth departments.”

    Environment Minister Steven Miles said accurate mapping was vital for protecting koalas and other native wildlife. 

    “Many of our native species need are very specific habitats and that's why land clearing can be so devastating, leading some species closer to extinction,” Mr Miles said. 

    “Accurate mapping of our changing landscape makes it easier to avoid some of the impacts of clearing, for example, by preserving wildlife corridors between similar habitats.

    “The Palaszczuk Government remains committed to reducing land clearing.”

    Ecologist Dr Steve Murphy said regional ecosystem mapping has been hugely valuable in efforts to protect and research one of Australia’s most endangered birds, the night parrot.

    “A fundamental aspect of our research program has been to identify and describe night parrot habitats. Queensland regional ecosystems mapping is the main tool we use to define habitats at a regional level in western Queensland, where the elusive bird is found,” Dr Murphy said.

    The program is available online and widely used by business, government, research institutions, conservation organisations and land holders.

    ENDS

    MEDIA 0412 393 909 (Min Enoch) / 0422 580 342 (Min Miles)