Vegetation Condition Benchmarks describe the reference state to which sites are compared to score their site-scale biodiversity values or set goals for management or restoration. The 3 primary attributes of biodiversity; composition, structure and function are described by benchmarks. When scores for composition, structure and function are combined into a vegetation integrity score, they provide the rigour and transparency needed to make site-scaled comparisons of biodiversity values to inform natural resource management decision making tools such as the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM).
A vegetation integrity score represents the degree to which the composition, structure and function of the vegetation type at a site differs from the best-on-offer condition. Best-on-offer sites are those sites within the contemporary landscape with higher numbers of native plant species, greater structural complexity and replete with functional components, relative to other sites within the same vegetation type and bioregion.
Benchmarks have been created for more than 650 extant regional vegetation classes (RVCs), which are an amalgamation of bioregions (IBRA version 7) and NSW Vegetation Classes. Composition benchmarks (growth form species richness) and structure benchmarks (growth form summed foliage cover) used data from more than 36,000 full-floristic 0.04 ha plots. Function benchmarks (number of large trees, length of logs and cover of litter) used data from approximately 39,000 records from 0.1 ha plots.
Access to the most up-to-date, comprehensive and approved vegetation condition benchmark data is via the BioNet Vegetation Classification application. Follow the How to access vegetation condition benchmark data from BioNet Quick Guide to export up-to-date approved vegetation condition benchmark information for plant community types (PCT) and/or Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA) Regions of interest.