Identification, Assessment and Protection of National Estate Part a natural Values

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8. Glossary

Aerial Photo Interpretation (API)

the delineation and identification of landscape features using photos taken from the air that are viewed in pairs using a steroscope to create a three-dimensional image.




software used to display and analyse spatially represented data.


collections of populations of different species that live in the same area.


see biological diversity.


the interaction between the biotic (living), and a-biotic (non-living) elements of the world, including climate, topography, geologiy etc.

biological diversity

the variety of all life forms: the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems they form. Biological diversity is usually considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. It is sometimes considered at the level of landscape diversity.


a combination of physical features, such as climate, soils, geology and landforms, and biological features, such as flora and fauna.

biophysical naturalness (BN)

An indicator used in the national wilderness inventory related to the intensity and duration of interference with an ecosystems.


a region defined by a combination of biological, social and geographic criteria rather than geopolitical criteria; generally, a system of related, interconnected ecosystems.


liverworts, mosses and hornworts: green, non-vascular land plants without seeds, numbering at least 18 000 species. They are among the simplest of the terrestrial plants but occupy a variety of habitats and show considerable diversity.


China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement

comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system

a reserve system displaying the features of comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness.

comprehensiveness - the degree to which the full range of ecological communities and their biological diversity is incorporated in the reserve system.

adequacy - the reserve system’s ability to maintain the ecological viability and integrity of populations, species and communities.

representativeness - the extent to which areas selected for inclusion in the reserve system are capable of reflecting the known biological diversity and ecological patterns and processes of the ecological community or ecosystem concerned.

a logging system that results in the felling of all standing trees.

comprehensive regional assessment

a joint Commonwealth–State assessment of all forest values - environmental, heritage, economic and social - leading to the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system, agreements on forest management, and the signing of a regional forest agreement.


the protection, maintenance, management, sustainable use, restoration and enhancement of the natural environment.

conservation advice and principles

the Australian Heritage Commission has a statutory obligation to provide advice on the protection of the National Estate. The advice is based on conservation principles that are aimed at protecting and maintaining National estate places and values. Advice is available for land management agencies and individuals who own places that have been identified as having National estate value.


the position of a feature or area in the landscape relative to the rest of the landscape or topographic features, other vegetation or disturbance. For example, some values such as old-growth forest need to be considered in context; that is, in terms of their relationship to disturbance, other vegetation and the landscape in general.


used by the Australian Heritage Commission to determine whether places meet the requirements for listing on the Register of the National Estate. The criteria are stipulated in the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975.


populations physically separated from one another; that is, there is no or minimal gene flow between the populations. They are formed over time as a result of the appearance of a barrier in a formerly continuous distribution. Disjunct populations often have features that are distinctive in an evolutionary sense from those of the 'parent' population and in time may become separate species.


encompasses a range of factors that affect the condition of natural areas. Disturbance may be natural or human induced. Natural disturbance includes wildfires and rainstorms and is part of natural ecological processes. Human-induced, or 'unnatural', disturbance includes timber harvesting, agricultural clearing, mining and grazing. The factors that are important when considering disturbance are the origin, duration and intensity of the disturbance and its impact on the environment.

disturbance data

records of disturbances such as clearing, grazing, fire or timber harvesting that may affect themes, species or assemblages being assessed.


a measure of the physical or biological complexity of a system. It refers to a range of features, from artifact scatters to species presence.


a set of normally co-occurring and interacting species associated with a particular setting in the physical environment.

the aggregate of plants, animals and other organisms, and the non-living parts of the environment with which these organisms interact.
a dynamic complex of plant, animal, fungal, and micro-organism communities and the associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit.
endemic species

species confined to a specific region or locality.

environmental gradient

a description of the proxmity of different environments. For example, a steep environmental gradient might describe the changes from coastal sands through heath to tall forest over a comparatively short distance.


in the context of the New South Wales–Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreement, an area, incorporating all living and non-living components, that is dominated by trees having usually a single stem and a mature or potential mature stand height exceeding 8 metres and with existing or potential projective cover of overstorey strata about equal to or greater than 5 per cent.

forest associations

a method of classifying forest types based on associations of the dominant tree species in the canopy.

forest community

a vegetation classification that subdivides a forest type by either structure or understorey floristic composition.

forest type

a vegetation classification defined by the dominant overstorey species.

genetic diversity

the variety of genetic information contained in all individual plants, animals and micro-organisms. It occurs within and between populations of species as well as between species.


the identification and protective management of geological, geomorphological and soil features, assemblages, systems and processes (geodiversity) for their intrinsic, ecological or heritage values.


the natural range (diversity) of geological (bedrock), geomorphological (landform) and soil features, assemblages, systems and processes. Geodiversity includes evidence for the history of the earth (evidence of past life, ecosystems and environments) and a range of processes (biological, hydrological and atmospheric) currently acting on rocks, landforms and soils.

geographic information system (GIS)

a system displaying spatially represented data; for example, Idrisi for Windows and ARC/INFO.


those components of geodiversity that are important to humans for purposes other than destructive exploitation; things we would wish to retain for present and future generations.


the scientific study of the bedrock composition of the earth, including its origin, structure, composition, history, and past and present processes. Geological features contribute to geodiversity.

geological characteristics

features and structures associated with the formation of the earth's crust as well as major landform units such as mountains.


the scientific study of landforms - the surface morphology of bedrock substrates - and the past and present processes responsible for landform development. Geomorphological features contribute to geodiversity.


refers to those characteristics or features relating to an ancient phase of the earth's development, when the land masses of the Southern Hemisphere were joined together. This agglomeration of the southern continents is termed Gondwana.

great escarpment

the eastern fall of the great dividing range which forms a more or less continuous series of ranges that divides the RFA region into eastern coastal areas and western ranges and associated tablelands.


the place or environment in which an organism naturally occurs.


encompasses all those things we have inherited from previous generations. Heritage includes places (including national estate places), things (moveable objects) and folklore (customs, songs and sayings).

Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA)

a bioregional framework delineating natural regions in each State and Territory based on biophysical, environmental and vegetation considerations - for example, climate, soils, landform, vegetation, flora and fauna, and land use - that allow cross-border regionalisation.

interim list

the Australian Heritage Commission enters places on the interim National estate list by announcing, in the press and in the Commonwealth Government Gazette, its intention to register those places. Once a place is on the interim list, and before it can be entered on the Register of the National Estate, there is a minimum statutory period of three months during which any person can object to the proposal in writing. If objections are received they must be given due consideration by the Commission, but uppermost consideration must be given to the National estate significance of the place.


a line drawn on a map connecting points having the same numerical value of a given variable, analogous to a contour line on a topographic map.


Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement.


The national agreed criteria for the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system for forests in Australia, prepared by the joint ANZECC/MCFFA national forest policy statement implementation sub-committee.


environments with distinctive landforms and drainage characteristics resulting from the relatively high solubility of some rock types, notably limestones and dolomites, in natural waters.


the general characteristics of rock formations, such as composition and texture, and the sequence in which the formations were laid down.


the group of marsupials including kangaroos and wallabies.


the continuous protective care of the fabric, contents or setting of a place, as distinct from repair. Repair involves restoration or reconstruction.


information about the content, quality, condition and other characteristics of datasets.


the suite of climatic variables (temperature, humidity etc) associated with a small part of an environment such as a river bank, the base of a tree or under a small stand of trees.

national estate

is a collection of places - components of the natural or cultural environment of Australia - that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance or other special value for future generations and for the present community.

national estate values

the aesthetic, historic, scientific or social values attributed to places by the Australian Heritage Commission.

national forest policy statement

The statement that outlines the jointly agreed Commonwealth and State objectives and policies for the future of Australia’s public and private forests.

old-growth forest

the National Forest Policy Statement defined old-growth forest as ‘forest that is ecologically mature and has been subjected to negligible unnatural disturbance such as logging, roading and clearing’. For the purposes of this assessment, the proposed operational interpretation from JANIS (1996) was used; that is, ‘old-growth forest is ecologically mature forest where the effects of disturbances are now negligible’.


The climatic conditions (moist, dry, glacial, etc) considered to be associated with a defined area at any point in prehistory.


referring to the evolutionary line of descent of an individual taxon or groups of taxa.


a period (epoch) of geological history covering the period from approximately 1.6 million years before present up to 10, 000 years before the present day.


used taxonomically to describe species that have features associated with the evolutionary past of a group. For example, the salamander fish has features rarely found in fish of the southern hemisphere and is regarded as therefore being primitive.


a period of geological history covering the period from approximately 1.6 million years before present up to and including the present day.


The convention on wetlands of international importance, commonly known as the RAMSAR convention.

rare species

species with small world populations that are not at present endangered or vulnerable but are at risk.

recovery plan

a comprehensive plan that details, schedules and costs all actions deemed necessary to support the recovery of a threatened species or ecological community.

refugia, refuges

biological communities or geographic entities that, because of their moderating structural characteristics or physical isolation, or both, provide a sanctuary to which species or groups of species have retreated or have been confined in response to threatening processes, including climatic change.

regional forest agreement

an agreement, between the Commonwealth and a State or Territory government, for the long-term management and use of forests in a particular region. The purpose is to reduce uncertainty, duplication and fragmentation in government decision making by establishing a durable agreement on the management and use of forests.

Register of the National Estate

the national inventory of places of natural, historic and Aboriginal heritage significance that have been rigorously assessed by the Australian Heritage Commission and deemed worth conserving for present and future generations. The Register serves to notify all Australians, and particularly planners and decision makers, of places of National estate significance.


used to describe species associated with former ecosystems that have disappeared or have retracted to small pockets. For example, tingle forest contains a number of relictual species that appear to relictual species from Gondwanic rainforests.


a measure of the abundance of individual elements within a particular place. For instance, the species richness of an ecological vegetation class is the number of species that occur within that class. The concept is closely related to diversity.


associated with river banks.

scoping agreement

an agreement, between the Commonwealth and a State or Territory government, that establishes the broad parameters for regional forest agreements.

selective logging

the logging of a selected portion of a stand of timber, usually according to pre-determined criteria relating to the intensity of the logging and the nature of the stand remaining after logging.


where a species evolves into a series of new species, normally in response to selection pressures such as changing environment.


a group of organisms capable of interbreeding freely with each other.

species diversity

refers to the variety of living species.


the change in vegetation composition over time, one community ‘succeeding’ over the other. For example, wet forests in areas such as gullies that are protected from fire and other disturbance may eventually become rainforest. This occurs over a long period, in which rainforest species first colonize the understorey and, as the emergent eucalypts die out, rainforest species become the dominant species in the canopy.

taxon (pl. taxa)

the named classification unit to which individuals or species are assigned.




a period (or era) of geological history from about 66 million years before present to 1.6 million years before present.


the level at which a value is considered acceptable for entry on the Register of the National Estate. Thresholds are developed through scientific assessment or expertise and an analysis of data within a regional context.

type specimen (biological/geological)

the original specimen from which a new species (biological or geological) is scientifically described. The type location is the place where the original type specimen was found.


refers to the particulars of a place that have worth, merit or significance.

vascular plant

a plant that possesses a vascular system, the conducting tissue that enables the transport of water, minerals and synthesized food materials throughout the plant and provides mechanical support.

vulnerable species or ecosystems

species or ecosystems that are approaching a reduction in range of 70 per cent or are subject to threatening processes that may cause their loss at the bioregional level.

wet sclerophyll forest

open eucalypt forest with tall trees and a relatively complex understorey of ferns, cycads and shrubs. Replaces dry sclerophyll forest in wetter areas with more fertile soils. Generally in areas with annual rainfall greater than 1000 millimeters.


land that, together with its plant and animal communities, is in a state that has not been substantially modified by, and is remote from, the influences of European settlement or is capable of being restored to such a state, is of sufficient size to make its maintenance in such a state feasible, and is capable of providing opportunities for solitude and self-reliant recreation.

wilderness quality

a measure of differing levels of human impact on the natural environment, as part of a continuum of remote and natural conditions varying from pristine to urban. Wilderness quality is measured in terms of four variables: remoteness from settlement, remoteness from access, apparent naturalness, and biophysical naturalness.


a vegetation type dominated by woody vegetation having a mature or potential mature stand height exceeding 5 metres, with an overstorey canopy cover of less than 20 per cent.

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