Darwin Regional Land Use Plan
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DARWIN REGIONAL LAND USE PLAN 2015 56 The Darwin Region has extensive biodiversity assets including significant habitats, restricted and sensitive vegetation types (sandsheet heath, rainforest, mangroves, swamps and wetlands) and an increasing number of plant and animal species listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) or the Parks and Wildlife Commission Act (NT). Some of these species are found nowhere else. The Significant Concentrations of Threatened Vegetation Map (page 55) shows the known distribution of significant concentrations of threatened plant species and some significant vegetation communities (such as mangroves, rainforest and sandsheet heath). Many of these threatened species are currently not protected by national parks and reserves. The Sites of Conservation Significance Map illustrates that substantial parts of the Darwin Region are identified as being of national and international significance, with their key values summarised below: Darwin Harbour a rich coastal environment backed by savannah woodlands and patches of monsoon rainforest that supports a range of estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial environments including extensive area of tidal mudflats and a large and diverse area of mangroves, which in turn support highly specialised fauna particularly bird species restricted to mangrove environments Howard Sand Plains extensive seasonally inundated wetlands with shallow lagoons and swamps and sandy substrates that provides habitat for communities of carnivorous plants (bladderworts) that are internationally significant because of their species richness, a nationally threatened plant species (Trifolium taylori) found nowhere else in the world, a threatened palm found nowhere else in the Northern Territory (Ptychosprema macarthurii), a threatened species of bladderwort (Utricularia dunstaniae), and a threatened species of frog (the Howard toadlet, Uperoleia daviesae) found nowhere else in the world. The future survival of this centre of unique biodiversity is dependent on the identification and establishment of areas capable of ensuring their long term protection. Shoal Bay the lower reaches of the Howard River and other small tidal creeks differs from most other bays in the Top End in not being associated with any large rivers or freshwater swamps. The extensive tidal flats are important feeding and roosting areas for migratory shorebirds Fog Bay including the coastline and associated tidal flats and the chain of small islands to the north of Native Point. The area to the north of the Finniss River is characterised by sandy beaches and grassy dunes while, to the south, there are extensive intertidal mudflats backed by mangroves. The area supports large numbers of migratory shorebirds and is also significant for flatback turtle nesting Finniss River Floodplain differs in character from better known floodplains of the Adelaide-MaryAlligator Rivers in being dominated by seasonally inundated grassland and sedgeland with areas of paperbark open forest. Obviously, regional development inherently changes the environment: directly where natural vegetation and habitats are replaced with new human habitats and indirectly where these changes have an impact on the surrounding natural environment. The maps of the Significant Concentrations of Threatened Vegetation and Sites of Conservation Significance identify known locations of areas of significance that inform regional planning. The mapping of these areas also establishes localities where future detailed planning must place a particular emphasis on the evaluation of the potential impacts of the proposed development, and the determination of appropriate protection of the particular components that contribute to the significance of the environment e.g. the Howard Springs Toadlets that inhabit the Howard Sand Plains. The identification of these areas in no way limits the potential for significant habitats or concentration of significant species elsewhere in the landscape and the need for future detailed site specific investigations. A key consideration in this plan and future detailed planning is the ongoing management of risks to the environment associated with development (e.g. sediment, pollution and fragmentation of remnant vegetation, increased weeds, feral animal and fire management). Land Suitability Key Land Suitability Objectives Evaluate potential for development within the context of the sustainable use of land by identifying opportunities and constraints associated with a variety of inter-related factors, including: soil characteristics natural vegetation topography water resources natural drainage systems Minimise the potential costs associated with addressing impacts on the environment and appropriate locations for various land uses by giving priority to consideration of the suitability of land. Evaluating the suitability of land within the region for particular land uses and specific developments is a key element in preparing a regional land use plan. Land and water resources have a fundamental influence on determining an appropriate land use structure. In simple terms, land suitability refers to the fitness of a given area to accommodate a particular land use. Land evaluation is the process of evaluating the suitability of land to accommodate different land uses, so potential consequences can be predicted. Consideration of land use issues surrounding a regions natural resources may not be straightforward and one dimensional. For example, it may seem obvious that deeper, more arable soils close to ground or surface freshwater sources should be dedicated for horticulture and agriculture. However, the same soils may provide the most economic option for urban development (with excavations for essential services and building footings) or soil mining for landscaping projects elsewhere.
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