Community Ecosystem Monitoring
Council's Community Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) measures the health of our city's natural areas through long-term monitoring. Council has over 50 terrestrial sites in the program, which are surveyed by staff and community volunteers. Each site is given a score based on the health of its ecosystem.
The program helps engage the local community and encourages participation in ecosystem health monitoring. The program was initiated with the support and knowledge of our community volunteers. The information collected provides support for on-going environmental management programs.
Ecosystem Health Score Card
The data collected provides scientifically valid information on ecosystem condition. It is compared to benchmark values determined to represent sites in pristine condition. Benchmark values are specific to a Keith Class* (a vegetation type/class categorisation), with 121 benchmark sites surveyed in order to determine benchmark values.
More than 50 terrestrial sites are monitored by the community. Each site is permanently marked and located within rainforest, forest, woodland, and heath complex or wetland ecosystems. This is a long-term monitoring program and sites are monitored by community volunteers every 18 months.
The ecosystem health score card grades (A to E), provide a single grade determined for each randomly distributed terrestrial site.
CEMP Health Score Card Information
|A||Excellent: Conditions meet benchmark ecosystem health values. Ecosystem processes are functional and integral habitat is in near pristine condition. (Assessed score 80-100)|
|B||Good: Conditions predominantly meet benchmark ecosystem health values. Most ecosystem processes are functional and integral habitat is predominantly unharmed. (Assessed score 60-79)|
|C||Fair: Conditions meet some of the benchmark ecosystem health values. Some ecosystem processes are functional and some integral habitat is impacted. (Assessed score 40-59)|
|D||Poor: Conditions meet only a limited number of the benchmark ecosystem health values. Most ecosystem processes are no longer functional and much of the integral habitat is impacted. (Assessed score 20-39)|
|E||Unacceptable: Conditions no longer meet any of the benchmark ecosystem health values. Most ecosystem processes are no longer functional and integral habitat is severely impacted. (Assessed score 0-19)|
Indicators used to assess ecosystem health
Thirteen indicators of ecosystem health were identified. They measure vegetation components of the ecosystems, are representative of key structural elements and compatible to data used in NSW Property Vegetation Plans and NSW Biobanking. Not all ecosystems require every indicator to be measured. Below is a list of the thirteen indicators:
- number of hollow-bearing trees
- length of fallen logs
- native canopy species (regenerating)
- number of large/medium native trees
- native species richness
- weed species richness
- native canopy cover (%)
- native mid-storey cover (%)
- native ground cover (%)
- organic litter cover (%)
- rock cover (%)
- bare ground (%)
- exotic flora cover (%)
For more information on the score card, or to participate in the Lake Macquarie Community Ecosystem Monitoring Program, contact our Customer Service Centre on 02 4921 0333.
Keith Class Description
* Each vegetation type is assigned to a broader vegetation class and overarching vegetation formation, referred to as a Keith Class (Keith 2004). Keith, D. (2004) Ocean shores to desert dunes: the native vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Hurstville.
There are nine broad ecosystem types identified within the Lake Macquarie area and the ecosystem health score card grades provide a single grade determined for each randomly distributed terrestrial site.
If you want to find out more or get involved in the program please contact Council on 02 4921 0333.
Page last updated: 23 October 2018