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Identify system parts and how the system works

To implement the Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework (the Framework), the biophysical (including anthropogenic) aspects (components and processes) of the system must first be identified and documented in a format that is easy to access and easily understood.

Whole-of-System, Values-Based framework locator diagram

Ecosystem components (components) are the biophysical and chemical aspects of an environment, such as flora, fauna, soil, water, landscape/topography, people and the built environment. Components can be identified using scale-appropriate assessment methods (e.g. site, catchment, landscape), such as wetlands mapping, land use mapping, species records, etc.. For example, the components in the Lower Burdekin might include mangroves, salt marshes, sea grasses, cane farms, irrigation drains, roads, turtles, fish, crabs, and crocodiles.

Ecosystem processes (processes) are the physical, ecological, chemical, and hydrological processes that help form, maintain, and support a system. It is essential to understand how a system works across multiple scales to appropriately manage its biophysical aspects and understand how those biophysical aspects give rise to the services that are valued by humans[1].

One method of identifying and synthesising an understanding of the processes and components in a landscape is through ‘Walking the Landscape’. Other processes can be understood and quantified through modelling. Examples of processes that might be identified or assessed include understanding how water flows through the system, how the system responds to climatic processes (e.g. storms, floods), and nitrogen processes.


  1. ^ Fu, B, Wang, S, Su, C & Forsius, M (March 2013), 'Linking ecosystem processes and ecosystem services', Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. [online], vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 4-10. Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2021].

Last updated: 18 June 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2022) Identify system parts and how the system works, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 July 2022. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science