Integrating management with ecosystem ecology to ensure a sustainable future
Kamay (Botany Bay) is an ecologically diverse and culturally and economically important region that is under intense urbanisation pressures.
To manage these pressures, there are a range of management efforts at different scales, some considering separate sub-sections of the Bay (e.g. Coastal Management Programs and local council activities) and others which consider larger spatial extents (e.g. NSW and Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Threat and Risk Assessments, the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy, the Marine Integrated Monitoring Programme and the NSW Catchment Management Plans), which are not spatially integrated. Indeed, there is no existing mechanism to foster information exchange amongst the numerous stakeholder groups and diverse management initiatives. This is further challenged by the lack of an integrated understanding of the physical, geochemical and biological processes within Botany Bay.
Through consultation and multi-disciplinary science, our project aims to integrate current management processes affecting Botany Bay and develop management tools that link connectivity and energy flows within the Bay. This information will underpin whole-of-ecosystem engagement, conservation, restoration and management practices for the future. The requested funding will also leverage existing projects and be used for outreach activities and post-doctoral salaries towards achieving our primary objectives:
1. Synthesis of knowledge, risks and threats to the entire bay based on the input of traditional owners and other stakeholders to identify key data gaps and potentially pursue additional funding (leveraging the IPF funds).
2. Integration of traditional and system-wide knowledge into our understanding of Botany Bay’s function and consideration of traditional owner values within management planning (including the modelling tasks within this project).
3. Development of an ecosystem response model which can serve to not only address the specific management needs of Botany Bay (from objectives 1 & 2) but will provide a blueprint for applications to other similar contexts in Australia and globally.
SIMS will form a collaborative engagement platform for traditional owners and other stakeholders based on two parallel work streams:
INTEGRATION & MANAGEMENT
We hope to achieve Objectives 1 and 2 through a review of the current knowledge as well as a series of stakeholder workshops that amalgamate perspectives and share knowledge and ongoing activities related to traditional knowledge, research, industry and management of Botany Bay. The intent of the workshops will be the sharing of knowledge, integration of risks and threats to Botany Bay as a whole, and identification of knowledge gaps. Objective 2 will be achieved by integrating traditional knowledge into our understanding of Kamay’s functioning and clarifying traditional owner values in planning for management needs.
ECOSYSTEM RESPONSE MODELLING AND RESTORATION
The ecosystem response modelling Objective (3) will ultimately be informed by our collaborative work with stakeholders. In general, this work will integrate physical and biogeochemical and energy flows within the bay using ensemble modelling techniques. The focus will be on understanding the ecological connectivity between different habitats and how various threats to the system may cascade through these interconnections. This work-stream leverages several existing projects and the expertise of our partners, particularly the Water Research Laboratory (WRL) and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), and will support targeted data collection to fill gaps as identified during workshops. The model will inform Bay-wide processes, restoration practices and cross-jurisdictional assessments. The output will be open-access, ensuring that any user can access and add to the supporting data and modelling results. This approach will garner engagement by various stakeholders and ensure the modelling framework developed has a life beyond the program and is transferable to other regions/contexts.
This research is being supported by The Ian Potter Foundation.