A Habitat Condition Assessment System for Australia

This project is aiming to provide Australia with its first consistent, repeatable and cost-efficient national biodiversity habitat condition assessment and reporting capability—Habitat Condition Assessment System (HCAS).

It is expected that this new system will enhance our capacity to:

  • identify priority areas for management interventions
  • undertake national environmental reporting
  • identify natural and non‐natural influences on habitat condition.

The HCAS approach breaks new ground through its use of remote sensing, spatial ecological modelling and sparse data from on ground condition assessments to generate a national view of condition.

The HCAS is based on the premise that habitat occurring at places with similar abiotic environmental conditions (e.g. soil, landform, water availability) should look similar when viewed using remote sensing, averaged across seasons and years. Where two such places have markedly different remotely-sensed signals, this may indicate a difference in their condition for biodiversity.

This capability will consider differences in condition caused by natural and seasonal fluctuations, as well as non-natural disturbances, such as climate change, and will offer decision makers with the capacity to respond more rapidly and strategically to changes in environmental condition.

More detail is available in the project flier.

Download this fact sheet for a progress update as at June 2019.

Project publications

Fact sheets

Lyon P, Williams KJ, Dickson F, Ferrier S, Harwood T, Donohue R, McVicar T, Storey R, White M, Newell G and Ahmad M (2016) A Habitat Condition Assessment System for Australia: Developing a new approach to mapping change in habitat for biodiversity continentally. CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australia. Access the project flier.

Williams KJ and Lyon P (2019) The Habitat Condition Assessment System (HCAS): Progress update for stakeholders: June 2019. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. Download this fact sheet.

Data

Harwood TD, Williams KJ, Lehmann EA, Ware C, Lyon P, Bakar S, Pinner L, Schmidt B, Mokany K, Van Niel TG, Richards AE, Dickson F, McVicar TR and Ferrier S (2021) 9 arcsecond gridded HCAS 2.1 (2001-2018) base model estimation of habitat condition for terrestrial biodiversity, 18-year trend and 2010-2015 epoch change for continental Australia. v7. Data collection. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/nkjf-f088.

Harwood T, Richards A, Schmidt B, Ware C, Prober S, Ferrier S, Lehmann E, McVicar T, Bakar S, Mokany K and Williams K (2021) Ecosystem condition for the Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Icon Site v03.04.2021. Data Collection, v9. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/nw6d-ae40.

Reports

Williams KJ, Harwood TD, Lehmann EA, Ware C, Lyon P, Bakar S, Pinner L, Schmidt RK, Mokany K, Van Niel TG, Richards AE, Dickson F, McVicar TR and Ferrier S (2021) Habitat Condition Assessment System (HCAS version 2.1): Enhanced method for mapping habitat condition and change across Australia. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/n3c6-7w60.

Lehmann EA, Williams KJ, Harwood TD and Ferrier S (2021) A not-too-technical introduction to the HCAS v2.x mechanics: a revised method for mapping habitat condition across Australia. Publication number EP211609. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/ek91-wj41.

Williams KJ, Donohue RJ, Harwood TD, Lehmann EA, Lyon P, Dickson F, Ware C, Richards AE, Gallant J, Storey RJL, Pinner L, Ozolins M, Austin J, White M, McVicar TR and Ferrier S (2020) Habitat Condition Assessment System: developing HCAS version 2.0 (beta). A revised method for mapping habitat condition across Australia. Publication number EP21001. CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/85f4-1k65.

Lehmann E, Harwood T, Williams K and Ferrier S (2018) HCAS Activity 3a(1): Environmental Space Modelling – Methods Document. CSIRO, Document Number EP184899, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/5b9810b665f04.

Donohue RJ, Harwood TD, Williams KJ, Ferrier S and McVicar TR (2014) Estimating habitat condition using time series remote sensing and ecological survey data. CSIRO Earth Observation and Informatics Transformational Capability Platform Client Report EP1311716. CSIRO, Canberra. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4225/08/58503778590e0.

Journal papers

Harwood TD, Donohue RJ, Williams KJ, Ferrier S, McVicar TR, Newell G and White M (2016) HCAS: A new way to assess the condition of natural habitats for terrestrial biodiversity across whole regions using remote sensing data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7(9), 1050-1059. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12579.

Conference and workshop presentations

Ferrier S, Harwood T, Donohue R, Williams KJ and McVicar T (2014) Estimating habitat condition using time-series remote sensing and ecological survey data. National Condition Workshop. TERN Eco-Informatics. Adelaide, Australia.

Harwood TD, Donohue RJ, Williams KJ, Ferrier S, McVicar TR, Newell G and White M (2016) HCAS: A new way to assess the condition of natural habitats for terrestrial biodiversity across whole regions using remote sensing data. 2016 GEO BON Open Science Conference & All Hands Meeting. GEO Biodiversity Observation Network, Leipzig, Germany, 4th – 8th July 2016. Access the published book of abstracts, page 26-27. DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/90097.

Williams KJ, Harwood T, Lehmann E, Donohue R, Lyon P, Dickson F and Ferrier S (2017) HCAS-2 – a remote sensing application of condition assessment evenly across whole regions. In: Hyland E (ed.) Essential Environmental Measures for Australia: Native Vegetation Workshop. Pavilion Hotel, 19-20 June 2017. Canberra, Australia.

Williams KJ, Dickson F, Donohue R, Ferrier S, Harwood T, Lehmann E, Lyon P, Macfarlane C, McVicar T, Ozolins M, Pirzl R, Pinner L, Storey R and White M (2018) National mapping of biodiversity habitat condition for comparative assessments across regions. Ecosystem Surprises and Rapid Collapse, Boden Research Conference, Australian Academy of Science, 8-9 May 2018. Book of abstracts, page 53.

Williams KJ, Dickson F, Donohue R, Ferrier S, Harwood T, Lehmann E, Lyon P, Macfarlane C, McVicar T, Ozolins M, Pirzl R, Pinner L, Storey R and White M (2018) National mapping of biodiversity habitat condition for comparative assessments across regions. In: Dijk AV (ed.) Expert workshop: Environmental‐economic accounts with Earth observation data. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Lehmann E, Harwood T, Donohue R, Williams KJ, Dickson F, Lyon P, Macfarlane C, McVicar T, Storey R, White M and Ferrier S (2018) National mapping of biodiversity habitat condition for comparative assessments across regions. Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference 2018: Ecology in the Anthropocene, 25-29 November 2018, Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Ecological Society of Australia. DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/86222.

Lyon P, Harwood T, Donohue R, Lehmann E, Williams K, Ferrier S, McVicar T, White M, Dickson F, Pinner L, Ozolins M and Galway K (2019) The Habitat Condition Assessment System: Big data analytics for the state of Australia’s ecosystems (Symposium: Vegetation science for decision-making). Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA19): Ecology: science for practical solutions. 25-29 November, Launceston. Ecological Society of Australia. DOI: TBA

Williams K (2021) Habitat condition assessment system: a general framework for monitoring ecosystem condition from space. A Cutting-Edge Science Symposium Developing a national ecosystem assessment and forecasting system for Australia, 1-5 February 2021. CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. Access: https://research.csiro.au/biodiversity-knowledge/dynamic-ecosystem-assessment-system/. Watch the spoken presentation (Session 2, between 32-46 mins): https://webcast.csiro.au/#/videos/2383e97f-2a81-448d-9184-3fbd4c21cdc3.

Williams KJ, Lehmann EA, Harwood TD, Donohue R, Ware C, Lyon P, Bakar S, Pinner L, Schmidt RK, Mokany K, Niel TGV, Richards AE, McVicar TR, Malley C, Dickson F and Ferrier S (2021) Using TERN products to predict habitat condition nationally. TERN Science Symposium 2021. TERN, Brisbane, Australia. Watch the spoken presentation: https://vimeo.com/577483421.

Williams KJ, Lyon P, Lehmann EA, Harwood TD, Donohue R, Ware C, Bakar S, Pinner L, Schmidt RK, Mokany K, Niel TGV, Richards AE, McVicar TR, Malley C, Dickson F and Ferrier S (2021) Using satellite-based remote sensing and modelling to estimate habitat condition, change and trends (Symposium: Remote Sensing in Ecology). 61st Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia, 22-26 November 2021, Theme: Renewal. Ecological Society of Australia. DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/433695.

Other media

Harwood T, Donohue R, Ferrier S, McVicar T, Newell G, White M and Williams K (2016) Can We Really Measure Habitat Condition From Space? methods.blog. Available online: https://methodsblog.wordpress.com/2016/2011/2029/habitat-condition-from-space/.

Published applications using HCAS

DAWE (2021) Annual Report 2020–21. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra, Australia. Access: https://www.awe.gov.au/about/reporting/annual-report, page 46.

Clemens RS, Laffan SW, Low-Choy S, Mackey BG, Williams KJ and Wraith J (2021) How Australian mega-fires impacted the Superb Lyrebird and Greater Sooty Owl: A demonstration of the functionality coming to EcoCommons, and the utility of HCAS. EcoCommons. Viewed 25/2/2022, https://www.ecocommons.org.au/how-australian-mega-fires-impacted-the-superb-lyrebird-and-greater-sooty-owl/.

Clemens RS, Laffan SW, Low-Choy S, Mackey BG, Williams KJ and Wraith J (2021) Digital platforms deliver rapid assessments of Australian mega-fires on two bird species. In: Vervoort RW, Voinov AA, Evans JP and Marshall L (eds) 24th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation: Modelling for action with a flood of data and could of uncertainty: Abstracts. The Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (MODSIM), Canberra, Australia. Page 194. https://www.mssanz.org.au/modsim2021/documents/MODSIM2021_BookofAbstracts.pdf.

Harwood TD, Richards AE, Williams KJ, Mokany K, Schmidt RK, Ware C, Ferrier S and Prober SM (2021) Assessing condition of ecosystem types at Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Icon Site. A technical report for the Land and Ecosystem Accounts Project. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/a9b7-9y54.

Mokany K, Ware C, Harwood TD, Schmidt RK, Tetreault-Campbell S and Ferrier S (2021) Biodiversity in the Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Icon Site and the Murray-Darling Basin. A technical report for the Land and Ecosystem Accounts Project. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra, Australia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25919/nzg6-0819.

Butler D and Elmer C (2022) Regional-scale method to monitor vegetation condition using condition models and expert elicitation: Accounting for Nature Accredited Method (AfN-METHOD-NV-09). Accounting for Nature, https://www.accountingfornature.org/native-vegetation-methods. Download PDF.

Mokany K, Ware C, Harwood TD, Schmidt RK, Tetreault-Campbell S and Ferrier S (2022) Habitat-based biodiversity assessment for ecosystem accounting in the Murray-Darling Basin. Conservation Biology early online. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13915.