Hello Treeforce Citizen Scientists,

7 brave pioneers completed the first BioCAT training with Terrain’s Ruginia Duffy at the start of November, and because we also had our Scientific Advisor with us, Stuart Worboys, from the Australian Herbarium JCU, we learned a lot more than we expected! We learned how to use tablets to enter Survey123 information, how to use quadrats, estimate the height of trees, weed and native seedlings/trees id and how to work in a team with 1.5m distancing! It was quite fun and nice to be doing a different activity on our sites.

Here is a bit of information about BioCAT – you might like to join us for the next one?

The BioCondition Assessment Tool (BioCAT) has been designed as a rapid approach to measuring the change in vegetation condition for projects funded under the State Government’s Natural Resource Investment Program (NRIP).  The condition assessment tool has as its foundation the Queensland Herbarium’s BioCondition methodology, maximising alignment where possible, and utilising a number of attributes from BioCondition.
For this assessment tool, the standard BioCondition methodology has been modified to enable a more rapid assessment, but also to increase the scoring sensitivity of the methodology to shorter-term changes in vegetation condition as a result of project interventions. In particular, the following modifications have been made:

  1. Reducing plot size to fit within linear areas (however adopting the dimensions of BioCondition sub-plots);
  2. Making certain attributes that are unlikely to change within the 4-year project life optional rather than mandatory (large trees, species richness); and
  3. Streamlining assessment techniques to allow for rapid assessment.

In addition, this project-focused methodology incorporates additional attributes aligned to the NRIP funding outcomes as well as requiring more comprehensive data collection of others. These modifications include:

  • Increasing the detail in weed cover measurement;
  • Measuring the success of any revegetation (although for this version this does not impact the condition score);
  • Capturing a density of natural woody recruits rather than just a measure of recruit species as well as a ratings score taking into account multiple aspects of natural recruitment; and
  • Including an assessment of the extent of animal disturbance to the soil (although for this version this does not impact the condition score).

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science’s Qld Citizen Science Grant.