Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Monitoring the effectiveness of bitou bush control and native species recovery

Monitoring is the repeated collection and analysis of observations (e.g. vegetation density or cover) to provide information on changes that enable you to answer a particular management question. Whether a weed control program has been effective is one such management question that requires monitoring. To determine the effectiveness of bitou bush control at high priority sites listed in the Bitou Bush and Boneseed Threat Abatement Plan (Bitou TAP), the following responses should be measured:

  • the response of bitou bush to control,
  • the response of the priority plant species, populations and ecological communities to bitou bush control,
  • the response of other weed species to bitou bush control, and 
  • the cost of control and monitoring activities.

The following responses can also be monitored:

  • the response of a broader range of native species, populations and ecological communities (both plants and animals) to bitou control, and
  • the response of biocontrol agents following bitou bush control.

Monitoring programs are commonly established for weed control programs, but many programs are unsuccessful because:

  • the methods used are unsuitable for the information required,
  • programs are not run long enough or too few plots are sampled to show the effectiveness of control,
  • the data is collected differently at each sampling occasion,
  • data is lost, either inadvertently or by changes in personnel, and 
  • the results are not distributed and compared with similar programs.

Monitoring guidelines

To address the problems raised above, the Monitoring Manual: for bitou bush control and native plant recovery has been developed as part of the implementation of the Bitou TAP. Written in consultation with stakeholders and land managers, the monitoring manual proposes a multi-tier approach to monitoring, where different techniques can be used depending on the species present at the site, and the resources and skills of the land manager. The monitoring manual comprises three tiers: standard, advanced and research-level.

These guidelines, the outlined techniques and standardised datasheets are applicable to most other environmental weeds except aquatic and certain vine weeds.

Preface

The manual's preface introduces the structure of the manual and helps users to select the level of monitoring that best suits their needs.

Standard monitoring

This tier covers creating and using a map for monitoring, photopoints, observational data to support these photos, and information on costs incurred during control and monitoring. This tier is aimed at most land managers and has been prepared for a general audience. You can download this tier as a whole or individually as its component sections:

In addition the standard tier datasheets can be downloaded separately.

Advanced monitoring

This tier builds on the standard tier by adding more detailed methods, including the use of replicated transects and quadrats to allow more robust data to be collected on the response of bitou bush, native species and other weeds to bitou bush control. Users of the advanced tier also need to complete the mapping, photopoint, and control and monitoring activities records sections of the standard monitoring tier. You can download this tier as a whole or individually as its component sections:

In addition the advanced tier datasheets can be downloaded separately.

Research-level monitoring

The research tier builds on the advanced tier to enable causality to be determined (for example, that bitou bush control lead to the recovery of native species) and takes a more scientific approach to monitoring. This is achieved with an expanded experimental design in which all factors that could influence the response of the flora are accounted for. This tier is available to download as one document:

Users of the research-level tier also need to complete the mapping, photopoint, and control and monitoring activities records sections of the standard monitoring tier.

Datasheets

The standard and advanced tiers each have a set of standardised datasheets for data collection in the field and office:

Standard


Datasheets are also available in excel format for direct data entry into personal digital assistants (PDAs):

Advanced


Datasheets are also available in excel format for direct data entry into personal digital assistants (PDAs):

Research

The Research tier outlines the concepts fundamental to designing a research program, but does not specify which techniques to use; therefore there are no standardised datasheets for this tier. However, if techniques outlined in the Advanced tier are incorporated into a research monitoring framework then Advanced datasheets may be used or adapted for the Research tier.

Data submission and review of results

Collating monitoring data across priority sites is integral to evaluating the overall effectiveness of the Bitou TAP and weed management programs in general. Data from priority sites was collated and analysed by the Pest and Ecological Management Unit in the 5-year review of the Bitou TAP. The use of standardised techniques outlined in the manual will greatly facilitate collation and analysis of further biological data.

We therefore request that all your maps, photos, monitoring and costs data from priority sites be submitted to the Pest and Ecological Management Unit on an annual basis or when requested. To submit your data,

  • email digital copies of the maps (individual shape files are preferred) and data entered into the standardised datasheets (the preferred format) to bitou.tap@environment.nsw.gov.au, or
  • mail hardcopies (photocopies) of the maps and handwritten sheets to:
 

Bitou TAP Coordinator
Pest and Ecological Management Unit
National Parks and Wildlife Service

PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 1481 

Page last updated: 19 July 2013