This study and the maps and data generated are intended to improve understanding of land capability for agriculture, and initiate a system for consistent and public access to, and use of, this information. It is intended to guide stakeholders and decision-makers who value protecting high quality agricultural land for food production, even in the face of competing land use pressures.
This report outlines the results and methods used to map and classify land within the peri-urban areas of:
- Nillumbik Shire
- City of Casey
- Mornington Peninsula Shire
- parts of the Cardinia and Yarra Ranges Shires (where data was available).
The methodology used was developed through a number of preparatory phases of work and included the following steps:
- interpretation and classification of land systems into four classes of agricultural land capability
- re-mapping and conversion of maps to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- ground-truthing and verification using aerial photographs
- GIS-based spatial analysis.
Approximately 379,500 hectares of land were surveyed across six Local Government Shires to the north-east, east and south-east of Melbourne. Of this approximately 20% was classified as Class 1 (suitable for intensive cropping), 15% as Class 2 (cropping or grazing) and just over 50% as Class 3 (considered suitable for grazing only).
Within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), there are approximately 2400 hectares of Class 1 and 3900 hectares of Class 2 land potentially still available (i.e. not yet developed).
This study has demonstrated that it is feasible to map arable land and that this would provide a valuable tool for planning. The researchers have identified that further work would improve the quality of the results and increase the mapping coverage to the north and west of Melbourne.