Bird’s-eye view: surveying Eastern Australian waterbirds
Every year, Professor Richard Kingsford and his team from UNSW Science’s Centre for Ecosystem Science (CES) spend more than a hundred hours conducting the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey – one of the largest wildlife surveys in Australia. They survey major wetland sites across eastern Australia, including the Murray-Darling Basin, providing invaluable information on the ecosystem health of wetlands and rivers.
Aerial survey of waterbirds provides one of the few quantitative, large scale biodiversity datasets that can monitor changes in the distribution and abundance of 50 waterbird species, including threatened species, and the health of rivers and wetlands.
“The survey is a powerful tool to observe changes in Ramsar wetland condition as well as other state, national and international conservation agreements, policies and initiatives,” Prof. Kingsford says. “The survey can also detect potential long-term changes of implementing the Basin Plan.”
The surveys began in 1983.Today, CES runs the survey in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; the Queensland Department of Environment and Science; the South Australian Department of Environment and Water; the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Professor Kingsford’s team documents their survey on CES’s website, including lots of videos and photos. If you want to follow the work, you can catch up on each day's flying here: https://www.ecosystem.unsw.edu.au/logs/2020 - or explore our image gallery for a few highlights from the first couple of survey weeks.