Statewide Landform | Municipal studies | Land Inventories associated with Water Supply Catchments | Catchment Management Authority studies | The Future
Since the 1980’s a number of studies were developed as inventories or as land-capability studies with the increasing emphasis on meeting the needs of urban or peri-urban expansion. These studies were generally at a scale of 1:100 000, often with information on susceptibility to a number of forms of land degradation. Sometimes the underlying technical information was not obvious from the report or there was limited laboratory data (chemical and/or physical).
Studies in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s included the Shires of Bungaree, Ballan, Buninyong, Bannockburn, Berwick-Pakenham and Hastings and Land to the North of Melbourne and the Shires of Narracan and Traralgon in the early to mid 1980’s. These were carried out in response to requests for information from the then Department of Planning which resulted in Rural Planning Guides that include some inventory and broad land-capability information. Some of these peri-urban studies were supported by associated research such as septic tank and trench studies (Brouwer and Willatt 1982) and Engineering Guidelines (Garvin et al. 1980). A more intensive study of selected expansion areas designated by the (then) Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works resulted in the Resource Data Atlas at a scale of 1:25 000, albeit with limited resources.
A program of studies for local government planning purposes focussing on the Bendigo urban fringe, Melbourne-Bendigo corridor and southeast Melbourne growth corridor was initiated by Dr. Mal Lorimer in the early 1990s. These were mapped at a scale of 1:25 000 with some of the later studies excluding public land. However, these studies included information on soil hydrologic properties, (not routinely carried out in the broader studies) as input to various land-capability assessments, particularly for suitability for effluent absorption from septic tanks. Reports from this series were published from 1992 to 1996, incorporating the Shires of Newham-Woodend, Marong, Broadford, Romsey, Strathfieldsaye, Huntly, Mitchell, Pakenham and completion of Tallangatta Shire.
By the mid 1990’s there had been a substantial loss in the number of experienced field soil/land surveyors (pedologists) in this part of the Department as well as the demise of the Hydrology unit and the Water Supply Catchment assessment group, with some responsibilities shifted elsewhere with the introduction of the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994). However some new personnel were incorporated into this line of land resource assessment work/investigations.
A developing relationship with (then) Dept of Agriculture staff from the then State Chemistry Laboratory (SCL), saw the cooperation of the two groups via the Shire of Lowan Study (1:100 000) though traditionally the two groups had operated at different scales. This period saw technological developments used in land-resource assessment, particularly the use of newly applied forms of remote sensing such as gamma-radiation detection otherwise known as “radiometrics” and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The use of geophysics (such as radiometrics) was enhanced by closer cooperation with the Geological Survey of Victoria (GSV; now Geoscience, Victoria). The development of web-based products has grown considerably with many studies being input into the Victorian Resources Online (VRO) in order to reach a larger potential audience.
Land Inventories associated with Water Supply Catchments
Since the development of plans for proclaimed water-supply catchments by the SCA that started in the late 1950’s, there has been an increasing level of reporting and detail associated with these plans, which, by the mid 1980’s, were substantial documents that required substantial inventory information on which to base land management and land-protection options and recommendations.
The early inventory reports were minimal and were incorporated into files of the catchments while later water-supply catchment investigations from the late 1970’s, early and mid 1980’s had inventory information. These included Lal Lal, Tambo River, Gellibrand River, Tanjil, Delatite River, Nicholson River and Thomson River. These were the larger studies, but there are many smaller catchment studies that included some inventory information (Upper Barwon River), or relied on existing information.
A streamlined series of Proclamations (now called Declared Water Supply Catchments since the introduction of the 1994 CALP Act) that didn’t generate any significant land inventory information were developed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. A number of single purpose or general purpose land inventories (land-resource assessments) were carried out, e.g. the Reefton Hydrological Experimental Area soil survey, the Far East Gippsland Land Inventory and the Cassilis Valley land-capability study. Other examples of the map-atlas approach were the MMBW Data Atlas, and the Mid Goulburn and Upper Wimmera studies. The later two were broad studies at a scale of 1:100 000 but with limited or no laboratory data. The Mid-Goulburn study was one of the few examples where a number of external specialists explicitly contributed to the study.
Catchment Management Authority studies
Since the mid to late 1990’s there has been a series of Catchment Management Authority (CMA) land-resource assessment studies at a scale of 1:100 000, but mapping was to various levels of coverage (freehold land only is mapped) data gathering and data storage (may be in basic tabular form only, not in a interrogative database). These include Glenelg-Hopkins, East Gippsland, Goulburn-Broken, West Gippsland, North East, Corangamite and currently (2003/04) Wimmera and North Central. These studies focussed only on freehold land and spent much time in dredging for existing data and correlating all previous approaches into one cover. This is dependent on there being identifiable standards for data collection and recording (e.g. MacDonald et al. 1990), and also the degree to which various approaches were used in the past studies, either for a specific purpose or a soil or a terrain bias, as well as available corporate memory.
The need for refinement of the geomorphic component of the state-wide land system mapping has led to the establishment of the Geomorphology Review Committee that, as a result of the work undertaken for that purpose, has been able to contribute a chapter on the “Geomorphology of Victoria” in the recently published “Geology of Victoria” (Birch 2004).
The developing geomorphic framework will provide an updated basis on which to classify land types. An updated and modified edition of the Statewide Land Systems of Victoria was completed in 2000, but there has also been considerable change since then via the CMA mapping program.
There is a demand for current land and soil data that is readily available electronically, with an assumption of consistent quality. The provision of consistent quality spatial data is a challenge, dependent on resourcing, but there is also the concern of the potential for misuse of the data given there may be little interaction between the data custodians and the many varied uses of the data sought by a wide range of users given the availability afforded by electronic means.