Taking action to protect nature is urgent and choosing the best action can be complex. Large amounts of information and the multiple needs of many different species must be considered at the same time.
We’ve developed specialised decision support tools that bring together the best information available, to help inform how we prioritise land management actions that protect the future of Victoria’s unique plants, animals, and habitats.
Strategic Management Prospects (SMP)
Strategic Management Prospects (SMP) is a spatially explicit tool that shows where and how we can take cost-effective action to make the biggest difference for as many species as possible across Victoria, and guide on-ground management to deliver Biodiversity 2037.
Why cost-effectiveness is key
To achieve the greatest gain for the most species with the resources we have available, we need to invest wisely. By prioritising actions in places where they are most cost-effective, we can do more now to protect and improve biodiversity into the future.
Who can use SMP
SMP can be used by anyone planning actions for biodiversity, whether you are working to control a threat to Victoria’s plants and animals, or helping to manage a threatened species or special place.
SMP datasets are publicly available in NatureKit, our biodiversity mapping platform.
How SMP works
SMP combines evidence-based models for thousands of plant and animal habitats, major threats to their survival, and indicative costs of common, landscape-scale management options across Victoria.
What's new in SMP
SMP is updated regularly with advances in conservation knowledge, species records, and land management activities.
SMP version 4 was released in July 2023 and includes:
- New weed modelling with improved consideration of weed types and control methods
- New management action for wetland hydrology restoration
- Improved consideration of aquatic species and habitats
- Updated Habitat Distribution Models for over 100 species
- Updated threat models for wild deer, feral goats and feral pigs
- New Biodiversity 2037 priority area maps for pest predator control, pest herbivore control, weed control and revegetation
[text on screen: Protecting Victoria’s Environment, Biodiversity 2037]
[gentle music plays]
Victorians have a deep connection to nature and want our biodiversity to be healthy, valued, and actively cared for.
Protecting our biodiversity is a big job. There are many threats. And there's limited time and resources to address them. We know we need to work together to do this.
But how do we know where and how we can have the most impact? Biodiversity is much more complex than any of us can keep in our heads. So we need a big data, science-based approach integrating knowledge from lots of experts.
To help us see where our work can do the most good for the most species, the Victorian government has created a tool called Strategic Management Prospects, or SMP, to help us all make better decisions about protecting biodiversity and to help guide actions across the state.
SMP can be accessed online through NatureKit, one of DELWP's public data platforms.
SMP combines the best available data, including information from species experts, species observation data, and species threat maps.
SMP is flexible. Users can access the map layers and SMP reports to explore combinations of threats, benefits of actions, and cost effectiveness.
SMP shows which actions in what locations will be the most cost effective and beneficial to the most species. It also tells us which actions will best help individual species, allowing users to compare their management options.
SMP is continually being improved with advice from species experts and local land managers. A range of data collected by people working for and observing the environment also contributes to SMP.
You can add your species observations via VBA Go or provide data about your on-ground action using the information on DELWP's activity data web page.
Time and resources to help biodiversity are limited. So we need to work smart.
SMP information helps us make the best decisions for biodiversity for our places, species, and landscapes.
Together, we can make sure Victoria's biodiversity is healthy, valued, and actively cared for.
Explore SMP and NatureKit at environment.vic. gov.au/biodiversity/naturekit.
[End of transcript]
Specific Needs Assessments
Alongside SMP’s view of management actions to benefit nature overall, Specific Needs Assessments provide a process to help make complex decisions for species or habitats in need of a tailored approach.
A Specific Needs Assessment is a structured decision support process for estimating the benefits and cost-effectiveness of a range of management scenarios for an individual threatened species, a population or an ecosystem.
A Specific Needs Assessment can assess actions that are complementary, or in addition to, the range of common, landscape-scale actions in Strategic Management Prospects.
Selinske, M., Bekessy, S., Geary, W., Faulkner, R., Hames, F., Fletcher, C., Squires, Z., Garrard, G., (2021) Projecting biodiversity benefits of conservation behavior-change programs
Orange-bellied parrot recovery: a Specific Needs case study
The Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team applied the Specific Needs approach to management of this critically endangered species. Watch the video below to learn how Specific Needs has contributed to recent increases in the population of Orange-bellied Parrots in the wild.
Pritchard, R., Kelly, E., Biggs, J., Everaardt, A., Loyn, R., Magrath, M., Menkhorst, P., Hogg, C., Geary, W. (2021) Identifying cost-effective recovery actions for a critically endangered species
[Text on screen: Specific Needs Assessment: A tool for saving threatened species. Case Study: Orange-bellied Parrot]
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The Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team used Specific Needs Assessment to compare which strategy we thought was probably our best bet to try and save them from extinction and hopefully see them recover.
[Text on screen: Rachel Pritchard, Senior Biodiversity Officer, The Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP)]
So Specific Needs Assessment is a spatial cost-effectiveness tool that DELWP has developed which lets you look at the benefit and cost effectiveness of management actions, or suites of actions in
management scenarios, to look at where you might get the best benefit for your species.
My name is Rachel Pritchard.
I work for DELWP, in the Threatened Species Framework Policy Team.
The Orange-bellied Parrot is a small, migratory ground parrot.
They're a little bigger than a budgie.
They breed in the summer in remote southwest Tasmania and every autumn fly up the west coast of Tasmania to come and spend winter along the coast of South Australia and Victoria before flying south again in spring to return to their breeding grounds.
[Map of southern Australia, showing the annual migration pattern of Orange-bellied Parrots between Tasmania and South Australia and Victoria)
They're critically endangered, and as the population became smaller, they contracted to only
breeding in one location, in a place called Melaleuca.
So the Orange-bellied Parrot was the first species in Australia to have a recovery team, and they started focusing on the species in the early 1980s.
When the numbers of Orange-bellied Parrots in the wild became very low, the species has been really dependent on releasing birds from our large captive breeding program to top up those numbers and prevent extinction in the wild.
In 2016, when the numbers were less than 50 Orange-bellied Parrots in the wild and three females returned to the breeding site, Orange-bellied Parrots were right on the brink of extinction in the wild.
The recovery team had to make bold choices about how we were going to respond to that.
And we had to do that with little time and with a lot of uncertainty because when you try
new management actions, you're not sure how they're going to go.
Because Specific Needs Assessment allows you to include everybody's voice, and because it allows you to document your uncertainty and move through it, it can be a really important tool to help threatened species managers weigh up complex decisions and alternative strategies and choose a path forward, when otherwise, it might be difficult to choose the next step.
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The recovery team used Specific Needs Assessment to compare what we had been doing for the last few years, our status quo, to a range of different alternative strategies, allocating released birds in different ways.
The results of that showed that across the whole recovery team, there was a strong feeling that juvenile release was our most likely beneficial strategy.
People felt even more strongly in support of releasing those really young birds than what they had said in the group discussion and that we should allocate more resources to that.
The recovery team quickly increased the number of birds we were breeding in captivity that year.
So instead of the 35 juveniles for release, we would have 50 available.
This was a bolder decision than we were prepared to make before undertaking Specific Needs Assessment, and it's let us see some really amazing results occur in the field.
This is a species that's been declining for 40 years, and now we have two years of population increase.
[gentle music continues]
In the breeding season following our Specific Needs Assessment, the recovery team released 50 juveniles at the breeding site at the end of summer.
This led to the largest number of birds migrating north than we had seen in over a decade.
And we hoped that that would translate to a larger number of birds returning to the breeding site for the following breeding season.
It was really exciting to see the first increase in birds arriving at the breeding site.
51 Orange-bellied Parrots returned, which was a ten-year high.
And for comparison, in most of the ten years prior to that, we had around 20 or 25 birds returning for breeding.
That led to a really successful breeding season, which broke all the records, including most number of baby Orange-bellied Parrots banded in a single day.
And then we let another 50 juvenile birds go at the end of that breeding season.
This meant that over the last winter, 192 Orange-bellied Parrots flew north on their migration into
their winter grounds, which was a number we probably couldn't have imagined getting to so quickly.
These outcomes are possible because of brave decisions that were made based on the limited
data that was available and the collective best guess of the experts that know this species best.
We were aided using the Specific Needs Assessment that allowed us to identify our uncertainty but move past it to choose the management strategy that we thought was going to work best.
And fortunately, it looks like we've been proven correct.
Learn more about Specific Needs Assessment online, and see how it can help you protect Victoria's biodiversity.
[Text on screen: Specific Needs Assessment: a tool for saving threatened species. www.environment.vic.gov.au/biodiversity/natureprint]
[Text on screen: The Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning would like to thank: Zoos Victoria, Birdlife Australia, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team and the Mainland Release Team for use of their stills and footage.]
[Text on screen: delwp.vic.gov.au]
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[End of transcript]
Page last updated: 11/07/23