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Step 2: Based on Step 1, determine need and objective/s

This step looks at the detail of the proposed rehabilitation site and its immediate surrounding landscape. Site or reach scale rehabilitation should not be undertaken until the site is considered in the context of the broader Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework (Framework). For example, the accumulation of sand at a site is a threat, and the infilling of pools by sand may act as a trigger for action. The sand is reducing the habitat for fish and invertebrate, which in turn is affecting the existence values and the availability of fish for fishers (service). However, the sand may have been mobilised by catchment clearance upstream that occurred decades earlier and has slowly migrated down the river. Knowing this information can aid in understanding the trajectory of the system and the site, guiding the appropriate interventions to take.

Quick links

Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Mapping Report

Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Plan

User Defined Factsheet – Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Process and Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework


Rehabilitation process diagram locator

The needs and objectives for the Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Plan can be set using the Framework knowledge gathered in Step 1 and based on a detailed assessment of the site. Objectives should be linked to the desired outcomes of the rehabilitation, which may be based on the services or values to be achieved. The clearer the objectives for rehabilitation, the easier it is to identify and implement management interventions.

Setting objectives

Defining objectives of an Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Plan will ensure that management interventions are relevant and linked to, desired outcomes. There are many standards to defining objectives, including using SMART principles[1] and Structured decision making[3] practices.

SMART objectives commonly apply the following principles[1][2]:

  • Specific: Keep objectives focused on specific issues, that are clearly understood by all stakeholders. Specific objectives define what is to change and by how much.
  • Measurable: An objective that is measurable will have an ability to demonstrate when an objective has achieved success. This includes the establishment of criteria for measuring progress.
  • Achievable: The objective should be realistic, considering resources, skills and time available.
  • Relevant: The objective should align with the overall outcome of the rehabilitation project.
  • Time-bound: Objectives should have a set date for when they are to be achieved.

The following provides a summary of Step 2:

  • What type of system?: Aquatic ecosystems in Queensland are classified into wetland systems (lacustrine, palustrine, riverine, intertidal and subtidal (estuarine and marine), and subterranean) as well as into finer wetland habitat types. Understanding the type of system that is being rehabilitated reveals its components and processes. This information needs to be considered within the context of Step 1 and informed by a condition assessment of the system.
  • Identify ecosystem services:Ecosystem services (services) and intrinsic and existence values are derived from the interaction between the components and processes of an ecosystem. Understanding the services at a site will directly impact the aims and objectives of a rehabilitation project.
  • Identify beneficiaries and stakeholders and their values: Beneficiaries benefit from ecosystem services provided by the environment. However, not all people in the system are beneficiaries and some stakeholders may not benefit from, or are negatively impacted by, a service. Identifying and documenting stakeholders and beneficiaries and how they are affected by or benefit from an ecosystem enables clearer objectives to be set for any rehabilitation process.
  • Identify existing and potential threats/pressures and opportunities: Pressures can result from underlying human activities and natural processes or components at a variety of scales. Understanding current and emerging pressures to a rehabilitation site will allow for proactive management and minimise risks that the rehabilitation activity will not be effective.

The information and data required for undertaking this step can be quite extensive. The Information sources for aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation planning provides useful links to key information sources.

Things to think about

  • What has triggered the aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation?
  • What type of system is being rehabilitated?
  • How does the information from Step 1 affect any decisions? Where is the site in relation to the broader landscape and what information is required?
  • What ecosystem services (current and potential) are provided by the aquatic ecosystem?
  • What values do the systems provide, and who/what needs or values them (stakeholders/beneficiaries)?
  • What are the existing threats/pressures and opportunities to the services and values?

More information

Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework

See a table listing Information sources for aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation planning

See the next step, Step 3: Review need and objectives

Pages under this section


  1. ^ a b Bjerke, MB & Renger, R (April 2017), 'Being smart about writing SMART objectives', Evaluation and Program Planning. [online], vol. 61, pp. 125-127. Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2022].
  2. ^ Landcare Research, PO Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand, Jones, C & Kirk, N (July 2018), 'Shared visions: can community conservation projects’ outcomes inform on their likely contributions to national biodiversity goals?', New Zealand Journal of Ecology. [online], vol. 42, no. 2. Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2022].
  3. ^ Structured decision making: a practical guide to environmental management choices (2012), p. 299, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex ; Hoboken, N.J, eds. R Gregory, L Failing, M Harstone, G Long & T McDaniels.

Last updated: 13 June 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Step 2: Based on Step 1, determine need and objective/s, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation