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Wetland assessment technique v3.6

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Wetland Care Australia

Latest documentation


Designed for use in




Assessment purpose

Processes and components

Assessment criteria

Physical and chemical, Management and planning, Flora, Fauna

Method type

Field, desktop, consultation


Short term – Time varies with the size and complexity of the wetland, especially if it has more than one wetland type.



Wetland system

Estuarine, Lacustrine, Palustrine, Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The wetland assessment technique (v3.6) assesses wetland health using a standardised and streamlined method.


This method provides a basis for wetland managers to assess and monitor the health of wetlands. It is designed for a range of users with different knowledge of wetlands. However they should have, or be able to obtain, knowledge of the local area, of the wetland and potential impacts on it.

Method logic

Steps are provided for working through the assessment and calculating indices. Some indices are common to all wetland types and others are based on the properties and functions of the wetland type. For example the health indices for paperbark wetlands are wetland vegetation, habitat, paperbark condition, and wetland establishment. This assessment methodology is performed along transects.

The steps are:
  • Record transect starting point and compass bearing
  • Describe the transect location
  • Describe the wetland
  • Record transect distance
  • Conduct assessment along the transect either a) at each significant vegetation change or b) in uniform distribution of vegetation species complete at least 4 quadrats
  • After completion of transect ensure that each relevant index parameter has been recorded
  • Use calculations provided in the field manual to calculate index

A Management Options Section is provided with prompts to identify activities which will improve wetland health. These can be used as a basis for more detailed management planning.

Criteria groupings of the method

The assessment is field based with field sheets providing guidance on scoring for indexes.

Data required

The data needed is wetland description, wetland proximity, roads, area, adjacent land use, human disturbance factors, observation of acid sulphate soils, vegetation diversity, species number, wetland weeds, habitat potential, Hydrological change or tidal restriction, bank condition, and data specific to wetland type e.g. dead or dying trees and necrotic spots for paperbark wetlands.  Data is combination of measurements and field assessment.

Resources required

Expertise required

This technique requires a survey team with knowledge of wetland and potential threats. May require GIS and database knowledge.

Materials required

The survey team requires a field kit, which is detailed in the v3.6 manual. Field survey recording sheets and landholder survey questionaires.

Method outputs


  • The methodology produces broad index scores for all wetland types, and specific indices for paperbark, open freshwater and estuarine wetlands. These outputs provide a summary of wetland health.


  • Can be used in conjunction with geographical information systems (GIS) and databases to produce tools such as health maps and priority lists
  • As a basis for property management planning
  • To identify changes in wetland health
  • To contribute to a comparative database
  • As a basis for a detailed wetland management plan
  • Impact assessment.

Criteria by category

    Physical and chemical

    • Acid sulfate soils
    • Bank condition
      • Bank gradient
      • Erosion
      • Pugging
    • Connectivity
      • Area
      • Proximity of wetland
      • Roads
    • Habitat potential
      • (Provisions for estuarine, open freshwater and paperbark vegetation survey)
      • Forest structure
      • Snags and rocks
      • Tree hollows and structures
    • Human induced disturbance
      • Boat wash
      • Draings from/into wetland
      • Polluted water
      • Recent clearing
      • Rubbish
      • Siltation
      • Vehicular damage
    • Hydrological change or tidal restriction
      • Human structures

    Management and planning

    • Connectivity
      • Adjacent land use
    • Human induced disturbance
      • Fire
      • Grazing


    • Human induced disturbance
      • Dead trees
      • Plant and bark removal
      • Weeds
    • Hydrological change or tidal restriction
      • Changes to vegetation due to hydrological change
    • Vegetation
      • (Provisions for estuarine, open freshwater and paperbark vegetation survey)
      • Species richness
      • Types
      • Weed abundance
      • Weed infiltration
      • Weed type


    • Human induced disturbance
      • Dead, diseased or wounded native animals
      • Domestic animals
      • Feral animals


Recommended user

Land holders, catchment managers, natural resource managers.


  • Does not require detailed knowledge of plant species
  • Easy to follow
  • Generic indices
  • Indices Specific to wetland types i.e. Paperbark condition, Open freshwater, Estuarine and Saltmash indicators


  • Broader range of wetlands could benefit from specific indices
  • Indicators of condition are not linked to values

Case studies

(not documented)



  1. WetlandCare Australia (2008), Wetland Assessment Technique Version 3.6. [online] Available at:

Last updated: 7 February 2019

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Wetland assessment technique v3.6, WetlandInfo website, accessed 27 October 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science