A HELICTOPER will take to the sky at the end of the wet season to uncover new and interesting plant life in the Groote archipelago.
The helicopter will fly low and slow as NT Herbarium staff and ALC Rangers record information from the air to assist the mapping of vegetation across the archipelago.
NT Herbarium senior botanist Nick Cuff said data would help shape the future management of habitats and flora on Groote Eylandt.
Nick said the ALC already had much information about flora in lease areas, around community and areas easy to reach by road.
“Quite a bit of work done on Groote in the past has been aimed at easily accessible areas or areas associated with mining/development. We don’t have much information about the vegetation or records of unique or threatened species of plants from the archipelago as we haven’t been able to easily access thee areas where they are most likely to be found,” he said.
He said helicopter air-surveys were a useful tool in remote areas that are difficult to access.
Data will be recorded on the types of plants as well as the ecosystems they occur in including the landforms, soil substrates, fire history, habitat quality and structure.
“What we are particularly interested in is trying to get a handle on what threatened plant species there might be out there in the harder to reach areas of the archipelago especially in those uncommon habitat types amongst the sandstone,” Nick said.
Another goal of the aerial mapping is to identify important habitats for threatened animals. “There are strong links between the occurrence of certain threatened animals and particular vegetation types. If we can identify where and how much of these important habitats exist then this has the potential to assist in protecting and managing these animals as well”.
IMAGE: The helicopter will help map where important habitat for threatened plant and animal species occurs on Groote Eylandt.