What is BioCondition?

BioCondition is a vegetation condition assessment framework that provides a measure of the capacity of a terrestrial ecosystem to maintain biodiversity values at a local or property scale. It is a site-based, quantitative and repeatable assessment procedure that provides a numeric score to reflect functional, through to dysfunctional, vegetation condition states for biodiversity.

In BioCondition, vegetation condition is defined as the relative capacity of a site to support the suite of species expected to occur in a site of the same regional ecosystem in its reference state (or ‘best-on-offer’) condition. The higher the BioCondition metric score, the more flora and fauna species will be supported in a specific ecosystem type.

The BioCondition framework was first developed in 2006 to assist with decision making for vegetation management and biodiversity conservation and has evolved through a substantial science-based research program. The BioCondition framework currently supports the Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy, bushland restoration prioritisation (e.g. Natural Resource Investment Program) and market-based programs such as Accounting for Nature and the Land Restoration Fund.

The framework is underpinned by three key components:

  • a suite of assessable vegetation attributes that are based on a pressure-state-response conceptual framework
  • a clear definition of the reference state from which benchmarks for the assessable attributes are set
  • a scoring system that provides a condition metric that is comparable between and within ecosystems over space and time.

The BioCondition assessment framework is applicable at the site-scale, where condition attributes are measured in the field at a fixed site that represents a homogenous patch at a localised scale. Assessment of landscape-level condition attributes relative to that site are calculated remotely and can also be included in the BioCondition score.

BioCondition benchmarks

Benchmarks provide an objective comparison of vegetation condition states within and between regional ecosystems and are quantitative values for each assessable attribute in BioCondition. They are derived as the average or median values from field data collected from reference or best-on-offer sites in the landscape during optimal seasonal conditions, as far as practicable. For rare and highly disturbed regional ecosystems, expert elicitation may be used to determine benchmarks.

Benchmarks have been developed by the Queensland Herbarium and are available online for specific regional ecosystems. Where benchmarks are currently not available, the BioCondition reference site manual (PDF, 1.7 MB) provides a method for deriving benchmarks. A BioCondition reference site manual datasheet (PDF, 1.2 MB) is provided for use.

The recommended approach is to use the reference site assessment protocol to locate the site and conduct an assessment at the same time as the BioCondition assessment. The information obtained can be used to augment and refine the range of benchmark values for each attribute, particularly:

  • tree canopy cover
  • shrub canopy cover
  • grass cover
  • species richness for the shrub, grass and forb, and other life form groups.

The benchmark values are determined through the site assessment, taking into account variability caused by seasonal fluctuations or factors such as drought effects.

BioCondition Site Assessment

The BioCondition Site Assessment manual (PDF, 6.6 MB) provides an assessment protocol to measure how well an area of vegetation is functioning for the maintenance of biodiversity values. The assessment protocol works in conjunction with the benchmarks. The BioCondition datasheet (PDF, 1.2 MB) is available for use.

Spatial BioCondition

Spatial BioCondition is a modelling and mapping framework that is used to predict and map the condition of vegetation in most of Queensland’s regional ecosystems.

Using machine learning to integrate site-based vegetation condition assessment methods and remote sensing land cover data, the framework predicts how well the vegetation maintains the biodiversity values in each ecosystem.

The Spatial BioCondition framework aligns with the BioCondition and Regional Ecosystem frameworks.

Read more about Spatial BioCondition.