About BioNet Vegetation Classification

Information about NSW vegetation communities is maintained in the BioNet Vegetation Classification application.

The information includes Plant Community Types (PCT), the master community-level typology used in NSW planning and assessment tools and vegetation mapping  and management programs.

The standard operational classification hierarchy for native vegetation in New South Wales incorporates three nested classifications: Vegetation Formation, Vegetation Class and PCT.

NSW vegetation classification hierarchy figure

NSW vegetation classification hierarchy

What does BioNet Vegetation Classification include?

The application includes these data collections:

  • Vegetation Classification, including 
  • PCT Classification
  • PCT % Clearing data
  • 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 maintained in the BioNet Vegetation Classification application. PCT provide a common typology for describing, identifying and sharing information about NSW vegetation types. PCT are used widely in biodiversity conservation and assessment schemes, including in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) and biodiversity trading scheme.

All changes to the PCT classification are evidence based, and we are beginning to transition from a qualitative to quantitative PCT classification based on the analysis of georeferenced full-floristic plot data .

A major classification revision project  to upgrade PCT on the NSW east coast to a quantitative classification is nearing completion.

For more information about PCT, visit the BioNet PCT frequently asked questions section. 

How to identify Plant Community Types

PCT identification is best conducted in the field by a trained botanist using full floristic survey. 

If this isn't practical, there are other options.

PCT filter tool

You can find the tool in the online BioNet Vegetation Classification application.

The tool will help identify Vegetation Formations, Vegetation Classes and Plant Community Types. This involves selecting known criteria such as general location (IBRA region and sub-region), vegetation structure and species present to progressively shortlist and ultimately identify the likely PCT present at a particular site. 

Refer to the BioNet Vegetation Classification User Manual for instructions and user help.

PCT Vegetation Maps

PCT Vegetation Maps provide the best available information about plant communities that may be found in your local area. As with all maps they rely on the available survey points and mapping rules, so check the actual communities on the ground.

Vegetation maps can be used to understand not only the variability of local plant communities but also their spatial distribution. Spatial information is vital for understanding the ecological context of a location.

More information can be found from ‘1750’ PCT maps which are a representation of vegetation before clearing. These maps not only help explain the extent and types of vegetation loss, but can also act as a useful guide to replanting which local plant communities and where. 

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 ID (BVT ID) and corresponding PCT ID, CMA-related data including BVT % cleared estimates and vegetation condition benchmark data.

Plant community types: governance

Executive custodianship for NSW’s foundation biodiversity datasets, including the NSW Plant Community Type Classification, as well as the design, construction and implementation of integrated NSW biodiversity data repositories (BioNet, SEED), resides with the Executive Director Science, Economics and Insights, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Access BioNet Vegetation Classification data

There are two ways to access vegetation classification data. 

Anyone can register online as a public user to search the database for communities, produce reports and export data. 

Register and log in

Changes to the data in the database can only be made by registered editor users on the BioNet Vegetation Classification Edit User interface.

Log in help

Note that your BioNet Vegetation Classification login details are not the same as your BioNet Atlas log in details.

Use your email address as your 'Login Id' whenever you log in to BioNet Vegetation Classification.

The reCAPTCHA function does not always appear. Image verification may not be required every time you log in.

If you reset your password using the 'Forgot password' option, you will be sent an email with a temporary system-generated password. The first time you log in using this password, you will need to create your password using the 'Manage Registration' tab. Please pay particular attention to the password requirements.

Most data included in BioNet Vegetation Classification can be accesses using BioNet Web services.

Use the BioNet Vegetation Classification web service to access PCT, Class and Formation and related data including PCT % cleared values and condition benchmarks.

Use the BioNet NSW Landscapes web service to access over-cleared landscapes (Mitchell landscapes) data.

Pre-configured spreadsheets containing refreshable power queries are available for download from the BioNet Resources webpage under the Power queries headings.