As a state agency DELWP works across the spheres of natural resource management including water, fire, native vegetation, biodiversity, aspects of urban planning. Remote sensed information is an important resource for many aspects of these areas of study or interest, and DELWP is one of the key holders of spatial information for the Victorian Government.
Much of this data is highly relevant to conservation planning and management, although it wasn’t necessarily sourced or derived for this purpose directly. The EAS group provides significantly skills in interpolating and transforming these data into features that are most relevant to represent the drivers of the distribution and condition of ecological systems. Examples of types of these data include:
Digital Elevation Models
There are many different sources of DEMs and they are derived at many different scales and resolutions. While elevation is important to understanding the distribution of species and communities, data on how elevation is expressed as landform and other parameters at the site level can be much more informative from an ecological perspective. Transforming DEMs into related features that describe ecological relevant drivers such as insolation (i.e. how much sun exposure the site receives), or where water collects in the landscape (terrain wetness), and other features relevant to the taxa being studied is a good idea. We are currently use a range of DEMs for different purposes, including the one-second ‘Shuttle’ radar DEM.
Airborne Radiometric Data
Soils are a resource that is critical to understanding the distribution plants. Accurate soil mapping can be difficult to source, especially at consistent and useful large scales such as across Victoria. Examples of very finely resolved soil data exist for some parts of the state, particularly where they are relevant to agricultural or extractive industries. The most useful resource that we have identified for ecological analyses is airborne radiometric data, as it provides an excellent resource for appreciating the patterning of soils across large spatial extents.
Satellites are continually circling the earth providing information useful for a wide range of purposes. This imagery is available at many different spatial resolutions and sampling frequencies, many of which are relevant to ecological questions. Dealing and manipulating this data has generally not been an area that ecologists have been skilled in. The EAS group regularly use data from Landsat, MODIS, SPOT and RapidEye platforms. Of these, Landsat is an appropriate compromise in the grain, spectral characteristics, volume of data, and costs of data provision. We work closely with staff at Geoscience Australia to ensure that we process and encode this data in the most informative way for ecological modelling.
LiDAR provides spatially high resolution data, but is currently not available as a state-wide coverage sampled at consistent quality. LiDAR provides useful for some specific projects needs, and we use this data when appropriate to specific projects / products.
Our Study Area
Almost all of our work is conducted across south-eastern Australia, despite working within a state-based agency. Understanding and appreciating the patterning and the dynamism of landscape features at a large spatial extent allows us to contextualise our research products. Our current working footprint aligns to four tiles of MODIS imagery that we archive every 16 days.