BioCondition Assessment Framework
Description and method logic
The BioCondition Assessment Framework measures vegetation attributes in order to inform habitat condition and biodiversity values.
The BioCondition Assessment Framework was developed in Queensland for the purpose of evaluating ecosystem functioning for biodiversity values. The framework contains a site-based and landscape-based assessment using quantitative measures which are compared with benchmark values. This method can be used to assess the condition of wetland vegetation, and contains specific indicator weightings for mangrove ecosystems.
The framework defines condition as the degree to which key attributes of a patch of vegetation deviate from the attributes of the same type of vegetation in a reference state. For the BioCondition framework a reference state is defined as the natural variability or range in attributes of an ecosystem in its stable state that is mature and relatively long undisturbed in the contemporary landscape (Best on Offer). Benchmark values for regional ecosystems (RE) are required for a BioCondition assessment and these are derived from data collected for each RE in its reference state, and can be accessed from the Queensland Government website. Key attributes assessed under the framework are then compared against benchmarks in order to derive attribute scores.
The site-based assessment component of the BioCondition framework is designed as a plot assessment. It is recommended that two to five 100x50 m plot sites are selected within a regional ecosystem in a broad condition state (e.g. regrowth or remnant vegetation), but this will depend on the overall objective of the assessment. At each plot the following procedures are undertaken:
1. 100x50m assessment of large trees, recruitment of canopy species, tree canopy height and native tree species richness
2. Centred 100m transect for assessment of tree canopy cover and native shrub canopy cover
3. 50x10m centred sub-plot for assessing non-native plant cover and native plant species richness of shrubs, grass and non-grass species
4. 50x20m centred sub-plot for assessing coarse woody debris
5. Five 1x1m quadrats along the centre of the 100m transect for assessing native grass cover and organic litter.
The landscape-based assessment is largely desk-top and generated through the use of GIS. There are three attributes to assess if the assessment area is within a fragmented landscape, or one attribute if located within an intact landscape. Fragmented and intact landscapes are defined and mapped in the BioCondition manual.
Each attribute is assessed according to a specific set of criteria outlined within the BioCondition framework manual. Each score is weighted depending on the ecosystem type being assessed. The final BioCondition score is a fraction of the total weighted attribute scores divided by the total possible BioCondition score. Wooded ecosystems are scored out of 100; grassland ecosystems are scored out of 50; shrub land ecosystems are scored out of 65; and mangrove ecosystems are scored out of 85.
Criteria groupings of the method
The assessment criteria for the BioCondition framework includes site-based condition attributes and landscape attributes. The indicators used for the method are based on observations and measurements of vegetation structure and floristics, as well as habitat. Indicators are given different weightings depending on the ecosystem type being assessed.
Field ID and assessment experience, GIS, ecological expertise.
The BioCondition framework requires access to spatial and biodiversity information and digital RE mapping. Field assessment requires a 100 m transect tape and measuring equipment, quadrats, the BioCondition assessment framework manual, benchmark documents, clinometer/hypsometer/ruler, a camera, plant identification materials and GPS.
Criteria by category
Method to be used by assessors who have reasonable working knowledge of regional ecosystem mapping and vegetation assessment.
Outputs relevant to local government, Natural Resource
Assessment protocols requires training to reduce observer error
Neldner, VJ & Ngugi, MR (2014), 'Application of the BioCondition assessment framework to mine vegetation rehabilitation.', Ecological Management and Restoration. [online], vol. 15, pp. 158-158–161. Available at:.
Kelly, AL, Franks, AJ & Eyre, TJ (2011), 'Assessing the assessors: quantifying observer variation in vegetation and habitat assessment.', Ecological Management and Restoration. [online], vol. 12, pp. 144-144-148. Available at:.
Last updated: 7 February 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) BioCondition Assessment Framework, WetlandInfo website, accessed 2 February 2022. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/biocondition-assessment-framework/