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A national reference library of expert site condition assessments

This project is developing an approach for eliciting site-level ecological condition assessments from Australia’s ecological science and NRM communities. The elicited data will be one of the data sources used to build a library of site condition observations from across Australia.

Ecological condition and notions of ecosystem integrity are human constructs and there is subjectivity in the way condition is defined, assessed and interpreted. Existing metrics rely on the comparison of a suite of weighted ecosystem variables with specified archetypes or benchmarks defined in terms of those variables. While many condition assessment protocols are similar in terms of the attribute information collected, they can differ in critical detail, approaches to benchmarks or purpose. This makes it challenging to aggregate or interpret condition consistently, with a national view. Rather than attempting to aggregate a multitude of complex raw attribute data, this project is collating expert interpretations of condition.

Over many years of field observation and training, members of Australia’s ecological science and practitioner community have developed a deep understanding of our ecosystems. This includes knowledge of ecosystem dynamics and an understanding of how ecosystems respond to anthropogenic disturbances. This project acknowledges that reliable condition assessment is heavily dependent on this deep ecological knowledge.

The condition data captured through elicitation will support ongoing development of the CSIRO-DEE Habitat Condition Assessment System, and will be made available to the research community for other purposes.

More detail is available in the project flier.