Integrated Ecosystem Condition Assessment: Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit Module 5
Description and method logic
The IECA Framework provides users with a process on how to undertake an integrated ecosystem condition assessment and the key steps and considerations that need to be made.
It can be used to:
For condition assessments or surveillance monitoring programs the IECA Framework provides a consistent logic and approach able to be adapted to many situations, particularly in cross boundary or jurisdictional assessments/programs.
The IECA Framework is comprised of an eight step process, preceded by a planning phase, which establishes the context and current understanding regarding the assessment unit.
Part A: Context and current understanding:
Framing the question (planning)
Step 1: Clarify objectives
Step 2: Identify triggers
Step 3: Targets and thresholds
Step 4: Stakeholder engagement
Step 5: Establish the spatial boundaries of the assessment unit
Step 1: Assessing expertise
Step 2 Collating existing information
Step 3: Define scale of assessment
Step 4: Identify existing conceptual models
Step 5: Identify externalities that are likely to affect the assessment
Step 1: Identify and prioritise values
Step 2: Identify and prioritise threats
Step 3: Develop key evaluation questions
Step 4: Identify and prioritise indicators
Step 5: Design assessment and implementation
Step 6: Analyse and aggregate
Step 7: Harmonise and integrate
Step 8: Develop report card
Criteria groupings of the method
The IECA Framework guides the selection of indicators (with associated targets/reference points) for assessing the condition of high priority values and magnitude of threats (pressure, stressor, response) for aquatic ecosystems. Criteria used should enable assessment against management objectives (track progress relating to objectives and communicate trends), Key Environmental Questions (KEQs), and the magnitude of pressures and stressors acting on the assessment unit and priority values. Four types of indicators have been defined for the IECA Framework:
The aim is to identify priority indicators to assess condition (status and trend) of, and threats to, the ecological values and effectiveness of management interventions.
Inputs to determine indicators include
GIS datasets; aerial/remote imagery; index scores; species survey data; habitat survey data; assessment scores (jurisdictional programs); physicochemical data; biomonitoring data; and significant species listings.
Any methodologies associated with this framework will require expert knowledge as well as GIS, database and software management skills. Experience and/or education in wetland classification, stressors, assessment, ecological understanding and how they relate to ecosystem services.
The equipment needed will vary depending on the purpose of the assessment examples include:
GIS and other software as needed for analysis and communication
The IECA Framework uses six themes and can be used to:
The IECA themes include:
- Surface water
- Ground water
- Ecosystem extent
- Physical form
- Fringing zone
Aquatic ecosystem connectivity
- Ecological connectivity
- Hydrological connectivity
- Aquatic biota
- Ecosystem diversity
Criteria by category
Physical and chemical
The target audience for the document is catchment management authorities and natural resource management agencies operating at a regional level, which are most responsible for designing and implementing monitoring and condition assessments. The Framework is also of use for Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies, who set standards for monitoring, evaluation and reporting of aquatic ecosystems.
However the Framework is flexible and can be applied beyond condition reporting, for example as part of Environmental Impact Assessments and other planning processes.
Last updated: 7 February 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Integrated Ecosystem Condition Assessment: Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit Module 5, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/integrated-ecosystem-condition-assessment-aquatic-ecosystems-toolkit-module-5/