Aquatic Conservation Assessments (ACA) using AquaBAMM for wetlands of the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin

The Aquatic Biodiversity Assessment and Mapping Method or AquaBAMM (Clayton, et al.
2006) was developed to assess conservation values of wetlands in Queensland, and may
also have application in broader geographical contexts. It is a comprehensive method that
uses available data, including data resulting from expert opinion, to identify relative wetland
conservation/ecological values within a specified study area (usually a catchment). The
product of applying this method is an Aquatic Conservation Assessment (ACA) for the study
An ACA using AquaBAMM does not deal with social and economic considerations. However,
it identifies the conservation/ecological values of wetlands at a user-defined scale. It provides
a robust and objective conservation assessment using criteria, indicators and measures that
are founded upon a large body of national and international literature, in combination with
novel ideas from the developmental team. The criteria, each of which may have variable
numbers of indicators and measures, are naturalness (aquatic), naturalness (catchment),
diversity and richness, threatened species and ecosystems, priority species and ecosystems,
special features, connectivity and representativeness. An ACA using AquaBAMM is a
powerful decision-support tool that is easily updated and simply interrogated through a
geographic information system (GIS).
Where they have been conducted, ACAs can provide a source of baseline wetland
conservation/ecological information to support natural resource management and planning
processes. They are useful as an independent product or as an important foundation upon
which a variety of additional environmental and socio-economic elements can be added and
considered (i.e. an early input to broader triple-bottom-line decision-making processes). An
ACA can have application in:

  • determining priorities for protection, regulation or rehabilitation of wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems
  • on-ground investment in wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems
  • contributing to impact assessment of large-scale development (e.g. dams)
  • water resource and strategic regional planning processes
  •  providing input to broader social and economic evaluation and prioritisation processes.