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Step 2: Gather and analyse background information

Things to think about

  • What type of wetland is it?
  • Where is it located in the catchment?
  • What is the hydrology of the site and surrounding area? Has it changed? Does it flood?
  • What values does the wetland have? (What is already there?)
  • What are the threats to the values?
  • What is the soil type?
  • What species are present and how do they use he site?
  • How do the various components of the wetland work together?
Island habitat is sort after realestate, UQ Gatton Campus Photo by Lockyer Regional Council

Quick facts

No two
wetlands are alike – how they look and the plants and animals they contain will vary with local conditions (e.g., soils, climate and water flow).
A table of data links is provided here to help with the gathering of background information

Rehabiltation near Karawatha Forest Photo by Andrew Meiklejohn

Understanding the location by gathering and analysing the background information is an important step to enable the development of actions that will work.

To know what actions need to be undertaken, which will have the biggest impact and when they should be implemented often depends on the landscape, where it is in the catchment, the hydrology, geology, soil, the fire regime, the wetland type, the species being encouraged and more. A background report should include the sites ecological character which includes the sum of the individual biological, chemical, and physical components of the ecosystem and their interactions which maintain the wetland and its products, functions and attributes (Ramsar 1999). A background report helps identify and provide information in one place and can be used to support permit and funding applications.

A table of data links is provided to help with the gathering of background information.

Rehabiltation near Karawatha Forest Photo by Andrew Meiklejohn

When gathering information remember to think outside the box. Look for studies that have already been undertaken by others before undertaking new ones. Not all information is available on-line (although much is these days) gathering of historical data may call for a trip or call to the library. Local government often provide information on their websites including, but not limited to, information on permits, catchments plans, rehabilitation suggestions and species lists.

Before finalising the purpose or developing the rehabilitation plan, undertake site visits and ensure that the surrounding area and current site condition is understood and linked to the constraints which prevent natural recovery of wetlands e.g.:

Some examples of constraints which prevent natural recovery of wetlands:

  • Lack of seed for recruitment (native species) or a large seed bank (invasive species)
  • Lack of suitable sites for seed germination
  • Altered physical environment
  • Poor soil structure e.g. rainfall runs-off rather than infiltrating into the soil
  • Soil conditions not suitable for wetland plants e.g. soil compaction
  • Temperature extremes
  • Wind exposure drying out plants
  • Lack of fire or too frequent fire
  • Nutrient imbalances
  • Grazing and traffic[1]

Components and processes - interactions

To manage an ecosystem, it is important to understand what it is made of and how its various parts work and interact. Appreciating how the various parts or components work and interact (the processes) helps us identify, plan for and manage all those aspects of a wetland that enables it to deliver the many services that we depend on and value.

Wetland components refer to the parts that comprise an ecosystem and include things such as plants, animals, soil and water. While the processes relate to the interactions between the components. The drivers are the reason these interactions occur. So it is not only important to know the parts that come together to make the wetland but also how those parts/influences interact.

This conceptual model shows the changes to hydrology from certain land use changes.

  • Don't forget to check with your local council, they can often provide useful information that you can include in your scoping for background information.
  • History books and historic accounts written on the area may also provide significant guidance.
  • There are a number of rehabilitation and wetland design reports available on the wetland management reports page that provide detailed information on the various habitat considerations that need to be taken into account.
  • All data layers used on WetlandMaps and many mentioned in the linked table are available on QSpatial

Pages under this section


  1. ^ Greening Australia, LAG (2017), A Revegetation Guide for Temperate Riparian Lands, Greening Australia.

Last updated: 10 September 2018

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2018) Step 2: Gather and analyse background information, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science