Environments of South Australia
The Environments of South Australia was the first major work that attempted to systematically catalog the physical geography of the state. Although published in 1977, much of the information contained within the report remains current.
Preface to the Environments of South Australia Handbook
The purpose of this handbook is to help users understand information provided in the seven volumes of Environments of South Australia. The background of the study is outlined, survey methods and report organization are discussed and some suggestions are made as to how the data collected might be used. Also, a map of environmental provinces and environmental regions is provided with a brief description of each province.
Environments of South Australia is based on a philosophy of 'physical determinism', i.e. within each country or state land use is dependent upon the characteristics of the land resource. This philosophy is not discussed in the handbook but the reader is referred to the large body of literature associated with the need far environmental survey data for land use planning and policy evaluations and with methods of gathering these data.
Team members wish to stress that time limited both laboratory work and field checking because it was necessary to rapidly develop an Australian continental land resources data-bank. If a broad-scale survey of Australian environments is to be completed within a decade using limited scientific and other resources, then information provided by Environments of South Australia represents the range of descriptors, the degree of geographical generalization and the level of descriptor categories can be expected.
The authors wish to acknowledge the generous support of the technical staff in the preparation of the reports on Environments of South Australia; Dr A. Green and his assistants (Division of Mineral Physics, CSIRO) for LANDSAT negatives; J.C. Cavanagh of the Division of Land Use Research for the preparation of LANDSAT imagery; and those individual officers in South Australian and Commonwealth Government agencies who actively contributed to the project.
Organization of Province Reports
Environmental descriptors may be mapped and described at several levels of generalization. The particular level adopted depends upon such variables as the purpose of the survey, the density of recording stations on sample sites and the nature of the particular descriptor. In Environments of South Australia a simple four-level hierarchy of areal units is used to provide the necessary scales to describe environmental conditions. These range from environmental units, the smallest areal unit through environmental associations, and environmental regions to environmental provinces.
For tabular information, the environmental unit is used to describe landforms, surface water, soils, vegetative cover, native vegetation and land use. Environmental associations are the smallest areal units used to describe mean annual rainfall and evaporation, groundwater resources, landform descriptors for groups of environmental units and conservation areas. Environmental regions are used to tabulate regional climatic conditions more fully including Köppen and Thornthwaite classifications, monthly distribution of minimum, maximum and mean temperatures, monthly rainfall probabilities and monthly evaporation.
In addition, each province includes a range of non-tabular information in the form of stereotyped statements. Each province report begins by summarizing information for each subject or discipline. Similarly, the sections dealing with environmental regions contain short descriptive statements on landforms, soils, vegetation and conservation and those dealing with environmental associations, brief landscape statements.
P. Laut, P.C. Heyligers, Gael Keig, E. Lijffler, C. Margules and R.M. Scott (1977) Environments of South Australia, Division of Land Use Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia.