BioNet Vegetation Classification

System now available

Following completion of essential system maintenance, BioNet Vegetation Classification is now available. To use the system, you will be required to reset your password (use the existing "Forgot password" process). Additionally, the Reports/Exports menu have been replaced with refreshable Excel spreadsheets with embedded Power Queries and alternative data download links which allow the direct export of existing BioNet Vegetation Classification CSV data templates directly from the database.

For further details on these changes, refer to the Release Notes.

Information about the NSW vegetation communities is maintained in the BioNet Vegetation Classification application. This includes Plant Community Types (PCTs), the master community-level typology used in NSW's planning and assessment tools and vegetation mapping programs.

The standard operational classification hierarchy for native vegetation in New South Wales incorporates three nested classifications as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: NSW vegetation classification hierarchy

Figure 1: NSW vegetation classification hierarchy

Accessing the BioNet Vegetation Classification data collection

There are two ways to access vegetation classification data:

  • You can use the application. Anyone can register online as a public user, which will allow them to search the database for communities, produce reports and export data. 

Alterations to the data in the database can only be undertaken by registered editor users via the BioNet Vegetation Classification Edit User interface

  • You can go to BioNet Web services. Use the BioNet Vegetation Classification web service to access PCT, Class and Formation related data including PCT % cleared values and condition benchmarks. Use the BioNet NSW Landscapes web service to access over-cleared landscapes (Mitchell) values.

Resources to assist users

What does the BioNet Vegetation Classification application include?

 The application maintains the following data collections:

  • Vegetation Classification, comprising
    • PCT Classification
    • PCT Clearing
    • PCT-Threatened Biodiversity Associations
    • Vegetation Condition Benchmarks
    • Vegetation Class and Formation Classification.
  • NSW Landscapes. 

NSW Plant Community Type classification

The PCT classification was created in 2011 by consolidating two existing community-level classifications: i. NSW Vegetation Classification and Assessment database (Benson 2006 & 2008; Benson et al. 2006 & 2010); and ii. the BioMetric Vegetation Types database used in NSW regulatory programs.

The PCT classification is now maintained in the BioNet Vegetation Classification application. All changes to the PCT classification are evidence based, and moderated by the Plant Community Type Change Control Panel. A series of classification projects are underway to upgrade the PCT classification on the NSW east coast.

For more information on PCTs, see the frequently asked questions section. 

How to identify Plant Community Types

Ultimately the identification of plant community types is best conducted in the field by a trained botanist using full floristic survey. Where this not practicable consider the following options:

  • Plant community type identification tool – use the tool that resides in the on-line BioNet Vegetation Classification application. This involves selecting known criteria such as general location, vegetation structure and/or dominant species present to progressively shortlist and ultimately identify the likely vegetation communities present at a particular site. Use this tool to help identify Vegetation Formations, Vegetation Classes and Plant Community Types. Refer to the BioNet Vegetation Classification User Manual (PDF 12.9MB) for instructions.
  • PCT Vegetation Maps – use vegetation maps utilising the PCT classification as a preliminary indication of the PCTs that might occur in your area of interest prior. Use vegetation maps with care as they provide a generalised interpretation of the ecologically variable vegetation communities.  

Accessing archived datasets

With the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) on 25 August 2017, the Vegetation Classification and Threatened Species Profiles (TSP) datasets have evolved. Archived datasets are available. These can be used to look up, for example, BioMetric Vegetation Type IDs (BVT IDs) and corresponding PCT IDs, CMA-related data including BVT % cleared estimates and vegetation condition benchmark data.

More information

For more information or support, please contact


Benson JS 2006, ‘New South Wales Vegetation Classification and Assessment: Introduction - the classification, database, assessment of protected areas and threat status of plant communities’, Cunninghamia 9(3) (PDF 6.7MB): 331-381, Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney.

Benson JS 2008, ‘New South Wales Vegetation Classification and Assessment: Part 2 Plant communities in the NSW South-western Slopes Bioregion and update of NSW Western Plains plant communities. Version 2 of the NSWVCA database’, Cunninghamia 10(4) (PDF 8.18 MB): 599-673, Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney.

Benson JS, Allen CB, Togher C, Lemmon J 2006, New South Wales Vegetation Classification and Assessment: Part 1 Plant communities of the NSW Western Plains. Cunninghamia. 9(3) (PDF 7.42MB): 383-450.

Benson JS, Richards PG, Waller S and Allen CB 2010, New South Wales Vegetation Classification and Assessment: Part 3 Plant communities of the NSW Brigalow Belt South, Nandewar and west New England Bioregions and update of NSW Western Plains and South-western Slopes plant communities, Version 3 of the NSWVCA database, Cunninghamia. 11(4) (PDF 16.6MB): 457-579.

Page last updated: 25 July 2019