Gorse Phalaris mappingMerri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) has been awarded $45,000 from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation to update our mapping capabilities. The 90 year-old charity aims to make ‘a real and lasting impact on the big challenges facing Melbourne’. Currently, one of its key areas is protecting water eco-systems

How does improved mapping capacity contribute to protecting water eco-systems?

GIS Mapping exampleAlongside our mattocks, brush-cutters, spray units and gloves, our mapping program, Geographic Information System (GIS), has been a valuable tool for MCMC since the early 1990s. The GIS allows MCMC to measure distance and area and analyse relationships such as habitat connectivity across the catchment. Our GIS capacity enables us to test and challenge the analysis of government and vested interests. This support our creek protection campaigns. We record the location of weeds, rare plants and fauna sightings, monitor arrays and site hazards through mapping. This system produces maps that communicate in-house, to funding bodies, academics and to the wider community.

MCMC’s GIS tool and the data systems it relies on are ancient in IT terms and need replacing. The maturation of portable computer technology and cheap, drone-based aerial photography, offers new opportunities.

A robust data system will ensure the records of MCMC remain accessible and useful. One challenge is tracking the gradual shift in naming of locations. For instance, in the past the grassland now officially named Ngarri-djarrang was known as Central Creek Grassland, and also as Davidson Street Grassland. A ‘Geographic Thesaurus’ that aligns location based information is a pressing need for MCMC.

MCMC has been a trail-blazer in use of GIS among conservation groups. This grant provides the means to retain and grow MCMC’s ability to track and communicate where we are, where we have come from, and where we want to go.