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The Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2002 combined the knowledge of State and Territory agencies on biodiversity and its management. It assessed the trend and condition of wetlands, riparian areas, threatened species, threatened ecosystems, birds, mammals and key values associated with eucalypts and acacias across Australia. The report identified threatening processes and conservation issues at a regional scale and made suggestions for improved biodiversity management.

The Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2002 has been captured by the National Library’s web archiving service of Trove: https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20110602044946/http://www.anra.gov.au/topics//vegetation/pubs/biodiversity/bio_assess_contents.html.

Home page www.nlwra.gov.gov.au Published by National Land and Water Biodiversity Audit. ISBN: 0 0642 3713137 7. Senior Authors / Editors Paul Sattler and Colin Creighton.

The ATBA was driven by two Queensland scientists, Paul Sattler and Colin Creighton. It was a program of the pioneering National Land and Water Resources Audit. The Audit ran from 1997 to 2008, but suffered an untimely end, chronicled in an article by David Marlow in volume 124 of the Proceedings of The Royal Society of Queensland.

Paul Sattler OAM, member of The Royal Society of Queensland, has written for QSN:

The Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment was published in 2002 by the Natural Land and Water Resources Audit and represented the final report into the condition of a range of natural resources nation- wide. The total Audit’s worth was in excess of $52 million including all partnerships, a not insignificant investment at the time. It is considered that the biodiversity assessment enjoyed at least $2 million of in-kind support from the states and territories in addition to the $1 million in cash provided by the federal government. The enthusiasm for a nation-wide biodiversity assessment was noteworthy.

Unfortunately, the opportunity for continuation of a program to assess and monitor the on-going condition and trend of Australia’s natural resources was not supported.

The framework to carry out a nation-wide biodiversity assessment within a constrained 12 month timeframe was the newly completed biogeographical classification of Australia by Gethin Morgan and others. The delineation of bioregions with their component sub-regions provided a practical scale to assess the condition and trend of biodiversity and the relative significance of threatening processes. This assessment also included technical contributions by CSIRO and state researchers into evaluating various taxa as examples of how biodiversity values could be further considered. The assessment relied upon the extensive information held by state and territory governments, with much data based on observational records.

Fourteen case studies on how biodiversity planning might be approached at a regional scale were presented. These case studies were stratified across dissimilar bioregions and subregions. Overall, the Audit’s assessment provided a valuable input for natural resource management bodies and local governments to consider in regional planning.

The nation-wide information collected by the Audit’s biodiversity assessment was used extensively in the preparation of the statutory Australian State of Environment reports over two reporting periods.

The Executive Summary (page V) identifies the range of biodiversity elements assessed. In hindsight, the significance of climate change did not receive the attention that it now demands.

The original Audit’s assessment report on terrestrial biodiversity is available through Trove’s web archiving service (see above).  The Royal Society of Queensland is endeavouring to obtain a PDF. In the meantime, the online  version allows easy access and affords an opportunity for longitudinal assessment of biodiversity trends at the landscape scale.

The summary report was supported by an Atlas which was linked to easily access biodiversity information on each bioregion and sub-region across Australia. The original Atlas data base is currently lost!

Paul Sattler OAM Co-author

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