What is the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas?
The VBA species observations are a foundation dataset that feeds into some of the many biodiversity tools used in DELWP’s everyday decision making - showing where wildlife is now and how this has changed over time. This makes it a core input to the majority of the governments processes and programs that impact native species.
It is used in conservation status assessments, Habitat Distribution Models (HDMs) that feed into the Strategic Management Prospects and Native Vegetation Removal Regulations and into our public land management, research activities and State of the Environment reporting.
You can use the atlas to search and map species from across the state, check for threatened species in your area. Also, by sharing your observations in the VBA format you can help us measure the progress to meeting the Biodiversity 2037 targets.
Adding your records to the VBA is your main way to influence a range of government investment, regulation and management decisions.
The VBA includes a dynamic list of all species found in Victoria and provides information including conservation status. Currently there are more than seven million records of species distribution and abundance collated from many different data providers.
Questions and Answers
The VBA includes most species recorded in the state: plants, some fungi, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and most invertebrates. This includes both native and introduced species (including weeds and pest animals).We work with other government agencies such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and Museums Victoria to ensure we maintain an up to date species lists and current conservation status from state, national and international treaties.
DELWP considers that some information held in the VBA is sensitive, so the general level of access will only show you an approximate site location for these records.
We are currently reviewing the sensitive data policy to make it more consistent and transparent to check not only the species but also types of observations that may result in harm to that population.
Data may be considered sensitive for many reasons including:
- conservation, e.g. the locations of threatened species or species subject to illegal poaching (e.g. CITES listed species)
- privacy, e.g. records from private property, observer's names etc.
- species targeted for hunting
- species sensitive to recreational disturbance
- species at risk of collection, e.g. orchids
- species at risk of having conservation actions prevented
- species at risk of general trade
- other reasons specified by the Data Provider
You can apply for access to sensitive data by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Your request will be considered based on the type of data and the reason for your request. Access to data that has not been reviewed is restricted – only the contributor and the expert reviewers have access to the data until they have been independently verified.
The sensitive data policy will be reviewed in 2017.
Anyone can access the VBA as a guest to search for species in an area.
If you want to see detailed records and contribute your own observations you will first need to register and agree to the VBA terms & conditions of use.
Alternatively, spatial datasets containing the latest VBA data are also available. Download spatial datasets:
Visit the Victorian Spatial DataMart website
Visit the Victorian Government DataVic portal
The VBA dataset is collated from a wide range of contributors including DELWP biodiversity staff, government agencies and partner organisations, non-government organisation such as BirdLife Australia, ecological consultancies, university students and the many and varied community wildlife survey groups.
The majority of the data is from project based work where structured surveys were undertaken to assess presence or abundance of targeted species. It also includes all the records from previous department managed datasets such as the Victorian Rare and Threatened Plant Population monitoring database ((VROTpop).
DELWP manages the data in conjunction with key partners, including reviewing and verifying new records, error checking and managing the consequences of taxonomic (classification) and nomenclature (naming) changes.All new records submitted are forwarded to the appropriate expert to verify. DELWP completes the expert review cycle approximately every 4 months. After this time all newly approved records are available in the VBA reports area and new VBA spatial datasets will be released.
Recording where plant and animal populations are and where activities to protect and improve our environment are delivered is increasingly important to understand how our activities are impacting Victorian biodiversity. In order to gather consistent information where the Department has invested in species assessment or monitoring work the following standards have been developed to align with the VBA.
These standards describe what makes up a species occurrence record and will assist you in collecting the minimum required attributes so your records can be easily shared and compiled into the VBA dataset and used many times, maximizing the benefit of your efforts.