Skip to main content

RIEL seminar series

Vegetation classification in the Northern Territory

Presenter Dr Donna Lewis
Contact person
Robin Leppitt
T: 08 8946 6378 E:
Location Casuarina campus, Yellow 1.1.39
If you wish to attend this seminar via ZOOM please email for a link
Open to Public
Person wearing hat standing on rocks looking at GPS, with trees in background

Various vegetation classification systems have been applied to plot-based vegetation data in the Northern Territory since the 1990s. About a decade ago, the national vegetation guidelines and National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) were adopted and continue to be used as the standard classification system and field protocol in the Northern Territory. Parallel to implementing the national guidelines, the Northern Territory Vegetation Site Database was developed to store hierarchical plot data. The system has semi-automated tools that can classify plot data equivalent to levels two (structural formation), five (association) and six (sub-association) of the NVIS Information Hierarchy. As a result of inconsistencies between surveys and varying degrees of floristic and structural information collected in the field, only a portion of the data is compliant with the NVIS hierarchical levels.

Classification of plot data in the Northern Territory is more commonly used for vegetation mapping. The only Territory-wide vegetation classification is the 1:1 million vegetation map where 112 broad vegetation types were described from an intuitive appraisal of numerical analytical techniques. This hybrid approach continues to be used, however a standard method needs to be developed in the Northern Territory to classify plot data into meaningful vegetation types. The key challenges ahead are to collect standardised plot data that is transferrable and can comply with a consistent vegetation classification for Australia. In addition to reviewing the compatibility of plot data to NVIS, we also describe how it conforms with the International Vegetation Classification.

Dr. Donna Lewis has just commenced with TERN as Curation Lead as part of the Ecosystem Surveillance Program. Prior to this role, Donna was Senior Botanist with the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security. Donna has 20 years’ experience in botanical and ecological field survey across the Top End, and been involved in developing guidelines and field methods in the NT since 2001. Donna previously maintained the NT Vegetation Site Database, HOLTZE – Herbarium Specimen Database and developed the Flora NT website. Donna’s responsibilities with TERN include supporting and developing ecological field survey protocols that aim to enable interoperable data between jurisdictions, improve curatorial workflows, and lead complex on-site field botanical surveys within the remit of TERN Surveillance.

Related Events

  • Juma Kegamba standing in field with trees in background

    Developing conservation benefit-sharing mechanisms in Tanzania

    Tanzania has various categories of protected areas managed by six main conservation institutions, each with different types of benefit-sharing mechanisms.

    Read more about Developing conservation benefit-sharing mechanisms in Tanzania
  • Biohazard symbol

    Bio-security in Northern Australia

    The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) provides an early warning system for exotic pest, weed and disease detections across northern Australia to help address the unique biosecurity risks facing the region.

    Read more about Bio-security in Northern Australia
  • Mangrove forest with stilt roots in the foreground
    Casuarina campus

    Untangling the knot of "Wilderness" conservation Post-2020

    Conservation of Earth’s least industrially disturbed landscapes is one of the strategies to mitigate for climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation

    Read more about Untangling the knot of "Wilderness" conservation Post-2020