21 Feb 2023
 | 21 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A generalised ecohydrological landscape classification for assessing ecosystem risk in Australia due to an altering water regime

Alexander Herr, Linda E. Merrin, Patrick J. Mitchell, Anthony P. O'Grady, Kate L. Holland, Richard E. Mount, David A. Post, Chris R. Pavey, and Ashley D. Sparrow

Abstract. Describing and classifying a landscape for environmental impact and risk assessment purposes is a non-trivial challenge, as standard landscape classifications that cater for region specific impacts do not exist. Assessing impacts on ecosystems from extraction of water resources across large regions requires linking of landscape features to their water requirements. We present the rationale and implementation of an ecohydrological classification for regions where coal mine and coal seam gas developments may impact on water. Our classification provides the essential framework for modelling the potential impact of hydrological changes from future coal resource developments at the landscape level.

We develop an attribute-based system that provides representations of the ecohydrological entities and their connection to landscape features and make use of existing broad-level, classification schemes into an attribute-based system. We incorporate a rule-set with prioritisation, which underpin risk modelling and make the scheme resource efficient, where spatial landscape or ecosystem classification schemes, developed for other purposes, already exist.

A consistent rule-set and conceptualised landscape processes and functions allow combining diverse data with existing classification schemes. This makes the classification transparent, repeatable, and adjustable, should new data become available. We apply the approach in three geographically different regions, with widely disparate information sources for the classification and provide a detailed example of its application. We propose that it is widely applicable around the world for linking ecohydrology to environmental impacts.

Alexander Herr et al.

Status: open (until 29 Apr 2023)

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Alexander Herr et al.

Alexander Herr et al.


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Short summary
We develop an ecohydrological classification for regions with limited hydrological records. It provides causal links of landscape features and their water requirement. The classification is the essential framework for modelling the impact of future coal resource developments via water on the features. A rule set combines diverse data with prioritisation, which results in a transparent, repeatable, and adjustable approach. We show examples of linking ecohydrology with environmental impacts.