FeAST provides a transparent process for planning through a desktop-based environmental risk assessment.

The concept of the tool has been adapted from international studies to an Australian context and is driven by evidence and spatial information, in an often data-limited domain. The software for FeAST has developed to allow for continuous amendments and updates, employing streamlined workflows and novel geoprocessing tools.

The limitations and caveats of the tool and FeAST scope on the Introduction to FeAST page form the basis for potential revisions to the tool and are detailed in the following enhancement sections. This is split into datasets and changes to the FeAST scope.

1. Enhancements: FeAST datasets

FeAST is currently limited to the datasets available on CoastKit. CoastKit will be updated with new data and layers, some of which will be useful for FeAST. The following list provides some additional data layers that have already been identified. The timing and feasibility to add these to CoastKit will be determined.

Level 4 & 5 Biotope distribution data

The number of biotope records and the types of biotopes recorded in available ground-truthing data could be integrated into the Proximity analysis. This would provide greater detail on locally specific biotopes and support identifying critical habitats.

Biologically Important Areas

Important life history regions for aggregations of species such as breeding, foraging, migrating or sanctuary zones are currently available on the Commonwealth Conservation Value Atlas and could be added and integrated into the Proximity analysis.

Occurrence records for listed coastal and marine flora and fauna

Occurrence records from the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, Melbourne Museum records and the Atlas of Living Australia for FFG and EPBC listed fauna and flora species sighted in coastal and marine areas could be added and integrated into the Proximity analysis.

Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES)

These could be added and integrated into the Proximity analysis.

Core bird areas

Additional feeding and roosting sites critical for resident and migratory bird species could be added and incorporated into the Proximity analysis.

2. Enhancements: changes to FeAST scope

Including additional datasets in the FeAST assessment to expand the scope of the assessment would require additional work to the tool. The timing and feasibility of these changes still need to be determined. Expansion of scope could include:

Coastal habitats

Currently FeAST is useful for primarily marine habitats.  The tool could be expanded to include coastal habitats realm and aligning with the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 boundary of 5km inland. This would involve incorporating some of the logic behind the strategic management prospects tool and inclusion of the ecological vegetation classes (EVCS) and more coastal habitats such as estuaries and saltmarsh.

Cumulative risk and effects

This could be incorporated using existing activity maps, seafloor integrity work, and additional information from stakeholder consultation.

Seasonal and monthly timings

By including life history traits, users could assess what time of year to undertake works to avoid breeding periods or sensitive periods.

Habitat condition and state

The condition or state of habitat could be included to better understand the possible impacts of activities.

3D dimensionality

This could be incorporated to better understand the impact of activities in the water column.

Automation of footprint

Each activity depending on its nature has a different zone of influence and effect on environment, this could be automatically built into the tool.

Culturally significant features

Sensitive cultural features important to Aboriginal custodians and Traditional Owner groups could be included, this addition in FeAST would require extensive consultation and likely buffering to ensure the exact location remains hidden.

Improving FeAST and sensitivity assessments for mobile marine species and marine birds

A FeAST score could be calculated for mobile species in a similar way to how FeAST currently provides a FeAST score for habitats. Research undertaken by NatureScot will be used to inform this tranche of work: Development of Marine Bird Sensitivity Assessments for FeAST (Rogerson et al, 2021) and Developing FeAST for mobile marine species (Sinclair et al, 2020).

Page last updated: 09/05/23