Incorporating human usage into conservation planning and management of coral reefs: new spatial and temporal mapping of use at Ningaloo Reef, North-Western Australia.
Beckley, L., Smallwood, C.B., Lombard, A., Moore, S., Kobryn, H. and Nieman, J. (2008) Incorporating human usage into conservation planning and management of coral reefs: new spatial and temporal mapping of use at Ningaloo Reef, North-Western Australia. In: 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, 7 - 11 July, Fort Lauderale.
The data requirements for systematic conservation planning include appropriate spatial and temporal information about biodiversity and human use of resources. Limited work has been conducted on coral reefs in Australia (and elsewhere) to collect and combine spatially explicit and temporally grounded human usage data with biodiversity information to progress conservation planning. Ningaloo, a remote, fringing reef off north-western Australia is well known for its rich biodiversity and a Marine Park has been established in the region. However, Ningaloo has a long history of Aboriginal use of coastal resources, commercial exploitation of turtles, whales and fishes and, more recently, a proliferation of tourist and recreational usage. A project is underway to map the spatial and temporal distribution of recreational activities within the Ningaloo reef lagoon system and relate this to factors such as biodiversity, physical conditions, marine park zoning, access roads and accommodation nodes. Throughout 2007, aerial and shore-based surveys were undertaken along the 300 km length of the reef, and all recreational and boating activity in the lagoon was recorded in a geo-referenced format. Results indicate specific usage nodes and marked seasonality in use of the reef (Easter and July school holidays and the winter months). Relaxing on the beaches was the most frequently recorded activity and snorkelling, swimming, walking and fishing were also popular. During peak periods, hourly data on boat launching at Coral Bay and beach usage at favoured sites such as Turquoise Bay revealed distinct temporal patterns. The project has provided a robust data set that can be incorporated into systematic conservation planning and guide future management of the reef. Additionally, this project contributes directly to an integrated ecosystem and socio-economic model being developed for the Ningaloo region.
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|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Environmental Science|
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