Melbourne Water has been working to solve the question of how to prioritise management actions in our waterways and catchments to best protect biodiversity in our rivers, streams and wetlands. This question is of particular urgency in today’s environment, where increasing urbanisation and climate change are rapidly altering habitats that sustain platypus, fish, frogs, birds and other wildlife.
The Melbourne Waterway Research-Practice Partnership (MWRPP) has been working to solve this important issue through the development of habitat suitability models. These innovative models take complex biological and environmental data sets and visually map the locations of habitats most likely to support key fauna – now and in response to interventions such as revegetation and stormwater management. The habitat suitability models are also able to consider the implications of predicted urban growth and climate change.
Using ‘Zonation’ software and habitat suitability models we are able to prioritise the most cost-effective actions for supporting aquatic biodiversity across Melbourne. This information is critical to build the case for an alternative to ‘business as usual’ waterway management in the context of future threats.