A GIS tool for land and water use planning in mining regions

Alex Mark Lechner, Neil McIntyre, Nena Bulovic, Heini Kujala, Amy Whitehead, Anthony Webster, Brendan Wintle, Will Rifkin, Margaretha Scott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Mineral rich regions can pose particular land use planning challenges due to economic pressure to mine that can face strong opposition from those concerned about social and environmental impacts. While fundamentally opposing values cannot easily be resolved, progress has been made in developing GIS planning tools that provide a common ground for analysis of scenarios and options. However, the complexity of integrating models across disciplines such as hydrology and ecology poses a considerable challenge. This paper describes a GIS tool that highlights priority areas for biodiversity conservation and water provisioning services and then integrates both to characterize water provisioning ecosystem services (WPES). Biodiversity conservation priority areas were modelled with the spatial prioritization tool Zonation, and water provisioning services were assessed based on runoff, flow path length and the presence of vegetation. Zonation produces prioritisation in a balanced manner that maximises high quality habitats for all biodiversity features (e.g. species) in accordance to their rarity. The top priorities typically represent the full range of regional biodiversity within a relatively small area. These priorities were derived from spatial data describing the distribution of biodiversity features, including flora and fauna species and endangered ecological communities. Water provisioning services were calculated through modelling flow length with a digital elevation model in combination with runoff and spatial data on vegetation cover. Areas with longer flow length, in areas with higher runoff and vegetation cover, have higher values for water provisioning services. Spatial data for biodiversity and water provision services were then combined using a stream network to characterize the value of runoff generating areas in terms of their contribution to downstream riparian biodiversity. A case study of land use planning in the Greater Hunter region, a mining and agricultural area of New South Wales, Australia, is used to demonstrate our approach to quantifying WPES. The impacts of potential future locations of surface coal mining were assessed by examining the spatial overlap of a coal seam geological layer with WPES. Our analysis identified areas that have high WPES value that may be affected by mining in the future. The aim of this research is not to present an end-point for a planning process but to demonstrate the value of and ways forward for incorporating system interactions by combining outputs of modelling tools. We conclude by discussing future research and the challenge of considering jointly water impacts and biodiversity impacts, including the need to evaluate interactions among the various GIS layers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, MODSIM 2015
EditorsTony Weber, Malcolm McPhee, Robert Anderssen
PublisherModelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (MSSANZ)
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780987214355
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Congress on Modelling and Simulation 2015: Partnering with industry and the community for innovation and impact through modelling - Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, Australia
Duration: 29 Nov 20154 Dec 2015
Conference number: 21st


ConferenceInternational Congress on Modelling and Simulation 2015
Abbreviated titleMODSIM2015
OtherThe 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2015) was held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia from Sunday 29 November to Friday 4 December 2015.

It was held jointly with the 23rd National Conference of the Australian Society for Operations Research and the DSTO led Defence Operations Research Symposium (DORS 2015).

The theme for this event was Partnering with industry and the community for innovation and impact through modelling.

Papers from these proceedings should be cited using this format:

Walmsley, B.J., Oddy, V.H., Gudex, B.W., Mayer, D.G. and McPhee, M.J. (2015). Transformation of the BeefSpecs fat calculator: Addressing eating quality and production efficiency with on-farm decision making. In Weber, T., McPhee, M.J. and Anderssen, R.S. (eds) MODSIM2015, 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, December 2015, pp. 490–496. ISBN: 978-0-9872143-5-5. www.mssanz.org.au/modsim2015/B4/walmsley.pdf
Internet address


  • Cumulative impacts
  • Integrative modelling
  • Land use planning
  • Mining
  • Resource extraction
  • Strategic environmental assessment

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