NT pushes for mapping water resources to boost economic output

Posted 19 April 2017

The soil, water resources and biodiversity assets of the Northern Territory will soon be mapped in a bid to boost jobs and investment.

The NT Government's new $9.9 million Mapping the Future program aims to identify potential productive land in regional areas and improve natural resources information.

Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Lauren Moss said it would include measuring the flow, quality and quantity of both surface and groundwater in or near study areas.

“The government is restoring trust and accountability in the bush by providing this crucial scientific information to landholders, investors and other stakeholders so they can help us further develop the NT in an evidence-based and sustainable way,” Moss said.
“We understand that good environmental policy is good economic policy, and we want to ensure that we are planning for the future effectively and responsibly in order to maximise economic growth, open up new jobs and protect the environment.”

The first year of the program will involve extensive planning and consultation with industry and community stakeholders to identify prospective areas for mapping.

Once priority areas have been identified and land access agreements have been secured, scientific teams will be deployed from July 2018.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will collect soil samples, surface and groundwater data, and survey the distribution of native plants and animals. 

The aims of the five-year mapping project are to:
- provide data to underpin land-use plans for regional agricultural growth areas;
- allow regional communities to make informed decisions on the location of natural resource-based economic development opportunities and local community-based land-use planning;
- attract private investment in natural resources industries based on accurate scientific data; and
- inform the long-term management, protection and health of community drinking supplies while ensuring sustainability of natural and cultural assets such as groundwater-dependent ecosystems.