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Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values (CFEV) Validation Report (National Water Initiative – Australian Government Water Fund. Report 1a/6 Report to the Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values Project, Water Resources Division, Department of Primary Industries and Water)


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Davies, PE ORCID: 0000-0003-2651-4061, Cook, LSJ, Sloane, T, Koehnken, L and Barker, P 2007 , Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values (CFEV) Validation Report (National Water Initiative – Australian Government Water Fund. Report 1a/6 Report to the Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values Project, Water Resources Division, Department of Primary Industries and Water).

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The Tasmanian Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values (CFEV) framework
(DPIW in prep.) was developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Water
(DPIW) in order to rate the conservation value and management priority of all
mapped examples of freshwater ecosystems in the state. A systematic approach was
used based on the ‘CAR’ principles of Comprehensiveness, Adequacy and
Representativeness, and a set of data which identified the natural biophysical
character and condition of the ecosystems in a standardised way.
The data used was based on the most up to date spatially attributed features and
condition measures available that could be systematically applied across the entire
state. This required existing data sets to be updated and/or extended in many cases. It
also required new data to be collated, and frequently attributed to ecosystem units
based on mapping rules and or modelling.
Natural feature data (CFEV ‘biophysical classes’) was used to represent the
biophysical character or type of an ecosystem based on the pre-European natural
‘reference’ state. i.e. it represents what would have been present in the absence of
European settlement and development. These data were developed for as wide a range
of ecosystem components as possible (e.g. fish, vegetation, hydrology, etc.) in order
to adequately characterise each ecosystem unit. Data from each of these components
was then attributed directly to each mapped ecosystem unit, without integration across
components or the use of surrogates.
Condition data (CFEV ‘naturalness’) was used to quantify the degree of change in the
biophysical state of each ecosystem unit since European settlement. Only a few data
sets were available on direct measures of biophysical condition which could be
applied to more than a few ecosystem units. Thus a systematic way of rating
biophysical condition was needed, which could include measures of both biological
and physical condition and integrate them into a single condition or ‘Naturalness’
rating. A range of biological and physical inputs to this rating were identified. Some
data (e.g. macroinvertebrate condition) were mapped after modelling relationships
between real measures of condition and data sets on a range of possible ‘drivers’.
Other data sets (e.g. geomorphological condition) had to be based on a set of
relationships between drivers of change and ecosystem condition based on expert
These data on condition and natural features were developed for two purposes:
Conservation Value assessment: The primary purpose was to characterise the
ecosystem units as an input into a spatial selection and rating process in order to
quantify their relative conservation value. The conservation value was based on the
relative rarity of the features and their condition. An ecosystem unit was rated as
having a higher conservation value if its biophysical features were both rarer and in
better condition than other examples of that ecosystem. In this way every mapped
example of an ecosystem (e.g. wetlands) were given a rating of relative conservation
Reporting and Interpretation: The secondary purpose of these data was to allow users
to interrogate the database for data on the natural features and condition of single or
multiple ecosystem units for a variety of purposes. These include state of
environmental reporting, catchment management planning, water management
planning, and scoping for evaluation of developments (e.g. dams) and environmental
impact assessment.
The former use placed more emphasis on spatial consistency in attribution of features
and condition across the state. While absolute accuracy is valuable, it is relative
relationships that are important. The latter use places considerable emphasis on
accuracy and precision at the scale of management interest. This is often at the local
or single unit scale.
There is a range of data types within the CFEV condition and features datasets. These
data differ in their spatial reliability, spatial scale, and precision. Many input data sets
to CFEV have an established provenance and data quality (e.g. digital elevation
models, hydrology data, etc). There was however little opportunity during the
development of the CFEV framework to conduct on-ground validation of many of the
data sets that were inputs to the conservation value assessment.
On-ground validation of CFEV data is needed in relation to both the use of the data
for reporting and interpretation at local scales and to provide guidance in the ongoing
refinement and development of the CFEV assessment framework and associated
A project was therefore initiated by DPIW to perform some ground-based validation
of CFEV data on condition and natural features, with a focus on rivers and wetlands.
This project was funded by the National Water Commission’s Australian Government
Water Fund as part of the National Water Initiative.

Item Type: Report (Technical Report)
Authors/Creators:Davies, PE and Cook, LSJ and Sloane, T and Koehnken, L and Barker, P
Publisher: DPIWE, Hobart and Freshwater Systems and Associates
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