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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 33(3)

Measure it to better manage it: a biodiversity monitoring framework for the Australian rangelands

Teresa J. Eyre A E, Alaric Fisher B, Leigh P. Hunt C and Alex S. Kutt D

A Queensland Herbarium, Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Qld 4066, Australia.
B Biodiversity Conservation Division, Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport, PO Box 496, Palmerston, NT 0831, Australia.
C CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre, PMB 44, Winnellie, NT 0822, Australia.
D CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PMB PO, Aitkenvale, Qld 4814, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: teresa.eyre@derm.qld.gov.au

The Rangeland Journal 33(3) 239-253 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ10071
Submitted: 2 November 2010  Accepted: 3 August 2011   Published: 9 September 2011

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The need for broad-scale, long-term biodiversity monitoring to support evidence-based policy and management in the Australian rangelands is clear and pressing but, despite protracted discussion of this need, there has been little progress towards implementation. To prompt real progress, we propose a framework of spatially hierarchical and complementary components that together use a combination of direct and indirect measures of biodiversity and drivers:

• Targeted monitoring; involving localised field-based monitoring of target species, addressing specific management questions.

• Surveillance monitoring; involving broad-scale, field-based sampling of multi-taxa and a set of habitat and condition attributes.

• Landscape-scale monitoring; providing regional to national-scale intelligence on habitat quality and trends in threats to or drivers of biodiversity, with data obtained using systematic ground-based and remote methods.

The framework aims to provide information on the response of biodiversity to rangeland management that is relevant to regional, state and national jurisdictions. We believe the characteristics of the proposed framework address many of the pitfalls that often stall biodiversity monitoring in Australia. These characteristics include: clarification of the desired outcomes and management requirements; a strong collaborative partnership that oversees the administration of the framework and ensures long-term commitment; a conceptual model that guides clear and relevant question-setting; careful design and analysis aimed at addressing the set questions; timely and relevant communication and reporting; and, regular data analysis and review, providing an adaptive mechanism for the framework to evolve and remain relevant. The proposed framework can be incrementally implemented at a moderate cost, relative to current total expenditure in natural resource management in the Australian rangelands.

Additional keywords: adaptive monitoring, conservation, rangeland condition, rangeland management, reference sites.


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