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For more than 15 years and at a cost of more than $3 million, OEH has worked with Australian researchers from Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), universities and state government agencies, to develop a framework and set of tools which is helping CMAs to better manage their catchments.

The framework is called the Site and Catchment Resource Planning and Assessment or SCaRPA. It is spatially based and produces models that can locate the most significant areas in an entire catchment or in a single paddock. The models integrate ‘priority layers’ showing areas where management activities are most likely to be effective and improve the condition of natural resource assets, such as water quality, biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage. In this way, land managers can identify areas where assets are concentrated and determine their priorities for protection, restoration or enhancement.

Land managers can also use SCaRPA models to choose which projects will best benefit the environment or build capacity in the community for the best price. SCaRPA shows how a single project can benefit a range of assets and, therefore, a range of investors or stakeholders.

SCaRPA is easy for clients to implement, understand and reach practical real-world solutions for their problems. Importantly, SCaRPA is customised to suit the user. For instance, users can rank the importance of assets. So far, one or more components of SCaRPA have been used by eight CMAs in NSW as well as the state of NSW.

The Murrumbidgee CMA in NSW has embraced the full application of SCaRPA. OEH helped the CMA to create a seamless vegetation map for the region which was used to model priority areas for biodiversity conservation and repair. The models were used with SCaRPA to cull project proposals that did not meet landscape-scale objectives. By using SCaRPA, the CMA was better able to determine investment priorities in the region for water quality, salinity mitigation, afforestation and the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage. For more information about the projects for which Murrumbidgee CMA used SCaRPA, see:

OEH provides regional-scale priority layers with the framework which were developed using information collected for the state-wide Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting program. SCaRPA improves over time because more accurate information is collected and added to existing layers or used to develop new layers. This also allows users to assess the success of their investment by tracking changes in the status of assets.

The SCaRPA framework and associated tools are a stand-alone package which is only released to clients after consulting with them about their requirements and to ensure that the project teams and software can be customised for the work.

More information

Page last updated: 28 May 2018