Global award for Groundwater Atlas

By on 21 May, 2013


Australia’s National Atlas of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) has won the 2013 Geospatial World Application Excellence Award for Environment Protection and Monitoring.

The coveted prize was presented during the Geospatial World Forum which was held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The GDE Atlas was developed by a team consisting of staff from Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

The web interface was developed by SKM, Cogha, and the Bureau of Meteorology, and the Atlas is hosted on the Bureau’s website.

Ross Jones, SKM’s acting general manager, water & environment, said that the online Atlas provides the first ever comprehensive picture of these important ecosystems across Australia.

“The health of GDEs is a significant concern for water managers, and needs to be better considered in water planning processes,” Mr Jones said.

“The GDE Atlas is a critical resource to fill the knowledge gap of where GDEs occur, and is a key tool for enabling the water requirements of GDEs to be considered in planning processes,” he said.

“Importantly, the Atlas will underpin future management decisions and help to protect vulnerable environmental assets.

“We are delighted that the project and the tool have been acknowledged in such a significant way,” Mr Jones added.

Funded by Australia’s National Water Commission (NWC) under the Australian Government’s Water for the Future Plan, the GDE Atlas assists in the consideration of ecosystem groundwater requirements in natural resource management, water planning and environmental impact assessments.

The GDE Atlas team was able to draw on detailed inputs provided by water and environmental agencies and regionally based sub-consultants in every Australian state and territory.

Each GDE is attributed with information that describes broad landscape characteristics, climate, the nature of connection between the ecosystem and groundwater, and ecological characteristics.

These attributes constitute a wealth of information that is useful for further assessment of the water requirements of each GDE.

The GDE Atlas is built on an open source platform and includes both map and web accessible text-based interfaces.

The online GDE Atlas has advanced search and identify functionality that allows users to search for GDEs via location or ecological, hydrogeological and landscape attributes.

A key feature of the GDE Atlas is that it is designed to allow for future updates. As a result, the GDE Atlas will remain an up-to-date source of knowledge regarding the interaction between groundwater and ecosystems.

By complementing a range of products that the Bureau of Meteorology hosts online, the Atlas adds to information to build up a more comprehensive picture of Australia’s water resources.

The Atlas will support policy-makers, land managers, water resource managers, and assessment of development applications by showing the presence and characteristics of GDEs

The Atlas is available at:

The GDE Atlas Project had previously been named the joint winner of the Spatial Enablement category at the 8th Annual Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in Australia.

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