Controlling mesquite in northern Australia
The management of mesquite will be greatly enhanced if we can predict its spread and impact at the landscape scale under a range of land use and management scenarios. Considerable research is required to get to this point.
The infestation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia offers considerable opportunities in this regard. The initial infestation began in the 1930s and rapidly spread.
Considerable remote images are available to help document the spread through the landscape, including aerial photographs at ca decade intervals since the 1940s, together with a wide library of diverse satellite images since the 1970s and a detailed map of current distribution.
In addition, results from ecological research since 1998 will provide also help in developing spread and impact models.
CSIRO, in collaboration with Curtin University, DAWA and the PMMC, is beginning to use this system to address a range of spatial questions.
Ongoing work includes:
compiling a spatial database of historical images and environmental data
mapping the current mesquite infestation in a quantitative, repeatable fashion using aerial surveys
testing new generation remote sensing and analytical tools to determine whether they can be used to accurately map mesquite
correlating current mesquite distribution with environmental data to develop a suitability index for mesquite within the Pilbara
use satellite images to describe rare, large-scale flood events, and subsequently to explore their potential importance for mesquite spread and establishment.
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