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November 7th, 2013
Online Portal Secures Sustainable Future for Western Australia

The new interactive mapping website is set to: combat climate change; maintain sustainable natural resources (land, water, and coast); and create investment opportunities for future environmental developments.

The Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) partnered with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology giants Esri Australia to develop the website, which is the first of its type among WA’s six not-for-profit Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups.

Speaking today at the Western Australian Location Information and Technology Symposium (WALIS) Forum in Perth, NACC GIS Coordinator Emma Jackson said NARvis would enable the community to become more involved in building a sustainable future for the region.

“The Northern Agricultural Region is recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, both nationally and internationally, but it also relies on strong agriculture and mining to maintain a viable economy,” Ms Jackson said.

“The NACC performs a community leadership role in delivering and raising the profile of initiatives – such as native wildlife protection, sustainable farming, and coastal, river and wetland conservation projects – which help balance commercial and environmental priorities.

“Our largest and most important project – given agriculture accounts for a third of the region’s economy – is a comprehensive regional sustainable farming program, dedicated to helping farmer’s tackle environmental issues.

“We’re also undertaking a $300,000 feasibility study of ecological corridors along the 600 kilometre stretch from Lesueur National Park to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – which contains two of Australia’s 15 biodiversity hotspots.

“Key to ensuring these projects are successful is community engagement – which is why we have used cutting-edge GIS technology to make our project data accessible to the public through the portal.

 “GIS technology visually represents our data in the user friendly format of an online map, so the community can easily interpret information, collaborate with us and contribute to ensuring the region’s future.”

Projects included in the NARvis portal cover more than seven million hectares from Gingin in the south to Kalbarri in the north, and out west into the State’s wheat-belt – an area home to 60,000 people.

The portal’s icons indicate the locations of various project sites and, when clicked on, launch pop-up windows which contain images, hyperlinks to external sites and other program data.

“Users will be able to instantly access different layers of regional data – such as high resolution coastal imagery including: soil types; salinity levels; or vegetation types.

“They can also produce their own maps to accompany proposals and grant applications,” Ms Jackson said.

Additionally, NARvis displays photos taken via an app created by NACC to monitor changes in the coastal environment.

“The app allows NACC volunteers to take a series of images over time to have the same field-of-view.

“These photos are uploaded to a database and then transferred to NARvis to create a historical, pictorial and geographical record of environmental change.”

“Also attending the WALIS Forum, Esri Australia GIS in Natural Resource Management expert Trevor Smales said GIS technology is vital to NARvis as it incorporates data sourced from multiple organisations onto the one map.

“NARvis includes NRM projects being undertaken by other organisations, governments and agencies, private companies and community groups – so it effectively serves as a ‘single point of truth’ for the agriculture sector,” Mr Smales said.

“Viewing this information via the universally understood medium of a map enables the public to easily gauge the progress of key projects across the region.

“There are also simple tools that allow users to share maps and data both publicly and privately.”

The NARvis website can be viewed by visiting http://narvis.maps.arcgis.com