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BioCondition Assessment Framework

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Developer

Queensland Government

Latest documentation

2015

Designed for use in

Queensland, Australia

Ongoing

Yes

Assessment purpose

Condition, Processes and components, Values

Assessment criteria

Flora

Method type

Field, desktop

Timescale

Short term – The BioCondition approach is considered a rapid assessment.

Scale

Landscape/Catchment, Site/habitat

Wetland system

Palustrine, Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The BioCondition Assessment Framework measures vegetation attributes in order to inform habitat condition and biodiversity values.

Summary

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.

Method logic

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.

Data required

  • Aerial photographs or high resolution remote sensing data (Spot etc)
  • Regional Ecosystem (RE) mapping
  • Regrowth vegetation
  • Remnant vegetation
  • High-value regrowth
  • Watercourse mapping.

Resources required

Expertise required

Field ID and assessment experience, GIS, ecological expertise.

Materials required

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.

Method outputs

Outputs

  • A value or score of vegetation condition that is comparable across and within different regional ecosystems
  • Quantitative ecological data.

Uses

  • Short term biodiversity assessments
  • Biodiversity monitoring.

Criteria by category

    Flora

    • Landscape attributes
      • Distance to permanent water
    • Landscape attributes (fragmented subregions)
      • Connectivity
      • Context
      • Size of patch
    • Site-based condition attributes
      • Coarse woody debris
      • Large trees
      • Litter cover
      • Native perennial grass cover (%)
      • Native plant species richness for four lifeforms
      • Non-native plant cover
      • Recruitment of canopy species
      • Shrub layer cover (%)
      • Tree canopy cover (%)
      • Tree canopy height

Review

Recommended user

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

Strengths

  • Draws upon widely available and comprehensive RE data
  • Fast and effective measure of habitat conditions as they relate to vegetation
  • Tested and validated indicators and approach
  • Approach widely used in Queensland and nationally.

Limitations

Assessment protocols requires training to reduce observer error
  • Requires observers with reasonable botanical skills
  • Benchmarks currently not available for all Queensland REs.

Case studies

BioCondition Assessment: Mine vegetation rehabilitation

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: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/emr.12102.

BioCondition Assessment: Quantifying observer vegetation in vegetation and habitat assessment

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: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2011.00597.x.

Links


References

  1. Eyre, TJ, Kelly, AL, Neldner, VJ, Wilson, BA, Ferguson, DJ, Laidlaw, MJ & Franks, AJ (2015), BioCondition: A Condition Assessment Framework for Terrestrial Biodiversity in Queensland. Assessment Manual. Version 2.2.. [online], Queensland Herbarium, Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and Arts, Brisbane. Available at: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/assets/documents/plants-animals/biodiversity/biocondition-assessment-manual.pdf.

Last updated: 7 February 2019

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) BioCondition Assessment Framework, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/biocondition-assessment-framework/

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science