Megan Powell

Megan Powell

I have a background in spatial science and wetland ecology to support government decision making and programs. I am passionate about science to support policy change and better management of water dependent ecosystems and diversity.

Mapping And Modelling For The Protection Of Waterways And Water Dependent Ecosystems In Urban Catchments.

Protection of ecosystems with water dependencies in urban catchments requires prioritisation of areas and streams to protect, as well as protection of the flows on which the ecosystems depend. This presentation outlines a test case for the South Creek Catchment in Western Sydney, Australia, and demonstrates the development of methods to aide urban planning for the protection of waterways and water dependent biodiversity. Water dependent ecosystems and habitats for functional groups of water dependent species (birds, bats, frogs and reptiles) were identified and mapped using a combination of species distribution modelling and cost-benefit habitat analyses. These habitat spatial datasets, and additional datasets for threatened species, macroinvertebrates, fish, vegetation, and stream geomorphic type and integrity, were then used to map high ecological value water dependent ecosystems and prioritise areas to protect and improve according to conservation targets. The resulting ‘blue grid’ will complement the ‘green’ grid for terrestrial ecosystems in the NSW Planning framework. The next stage of this work will be the development of ecosystem response models to identify and characterise the stream flows required to protect water dependent biodiversity and stream integrity. This flow dataset will inform the type and placing of water sensitive urban design measures as development progresses across the catchment.

Methods developed for the South Creek Catchment are guided by and in accordance with the Risk-based Framework for Considering Waterway Health Outcomes in Strategic Land-use Planning Decisions. The framework and methods are to be adopted across coastal catchments in NSW to mitigate against urban stream syndrome and protect waterway  values. 

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