Terms of reference
Photo: M. Fagg
The ESCAVI terms of reference were originally agreed in November 2001, reviewed and updated by ESCAVI in November 2006 and underwent minor changes to Department names in February 2007.
Key agencies recognise the need for a strategic coordinated approach to collecting and collating vegetation information to aid management-orientated decision making. The increased emphasis on vegetation in NRM strategies will require national coordination of activities to address vegetation information priorities. ESCAVI will establish itself as a national forum to develop collaborative and inclusive arrangements that draw together vegetation data providers and users. The Audit Advisory Council supports the establishment of ESCAVI, which mirrors similar arrangements for managing other Audit themes.
ESCAVI terms of reference
- Providing a forum for national coordination and leadership for the development, maintenance and use of vegetation data and information products
- To facilitate development of a comprehensive and accessible information system for vegetation, including concepts, guidelines and standards
- To facilitate development of vegetation data and information products that better inform decision making
- Communication and promotion of ESCAVI activities and achievements to assist sustainable natural resource management.
This will be achieved primarily by implementing the following goals:
- Encouraging and facilitating the development of partnerships between vegetation data providers and users and between coordinators for other vegetation and related land information
- Enhancing the national capacity for vegetation mapping and analysis through strategic coordination and collaboration between stakeholders
- Facilitating strategic and coordinated engagement of regional groups, government agencies and other stakeholders on vegetation information issues
- Facilitating and encouraging a nationally consistent approach to the development, access and maintenance of vegetation datasets as a component of the Australia wide protocol for natural resources data access, standards and availability
- Providing quality advice and information to ministers, ministerial councils, and government departments and agencies on developments and progress in implementing the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) and related vegetation information systems
- With the assistance of appropriate technical committees and NVIS stakeholders and contributors, implementing and monitoring arrangements for NVIS and promoting linkages with related vegetation and other information systems.
ESCAVI will also ensure arrangements are in place for it to oversee the development of appropriate technical committees to deal with theme coordination responsibilities specified by the National Land and Water Audit Advisory Council and specific requirements arising from the implementation of theme coordination arrangements for the vegetation theme. It is envisaged that ESCAVI would task relevant technical committees to undertake much of this work in consultation with fundamental data set coordinators. Through the technical committees ESCAVI would:
- coordinate funding and resource requirements for acquisition and distribution of data for the national vegetation data set
- as required, identify fundamental dataset coordinators and develop recommendations for the Commonwealth Spatial Data Committee (CSDC)
- coordinate vegetation information through the fundamental dataset coordinators
- ensure that standards and procedures are developed through the fundamental dataset coordinators to enable integration of fundamental land and water datasets developed under programs such as the National Land and Water Resources Audit
- ensure an effective flow of information about programs and progress within the national data coordination framework and liaise with the CSDC and ANZLIC to ensure that the national data infrastructure is assembled, maintained and delivered in a nationally consistent way
- maintain active consultation and coordinate activities with data users and across agencies and jurisdictions, including ministerial councils and standing committees
- establish linkages with the user community for monitoring and evaluation of performance
- cooperate with other land and water information coordinators to identify and, as far as possible, foster integration of themes to address key data and information needs
- oversee the development and implementation of the NVIS framework (which will include the NVIS attribute standards Version 5.0 and subsequent versions, the NVIS Data Compiler Version 2.0 and subsequent versions, and the NVIS Database Version 1.0 and subsequent versions)
- facilitate adoption of the NVIS framework by public and private vegetation management agencies
- facilitate comprehensive national vegetation mapping and the capture of relevant vegetation data sources not already included in NVIS, including state arrangements which mirror those at the national level
- oversee the development of vegetation information products arising from NVIS
- oversee the exchange, transfer and dissemination of data and data products.
Coordination arrangements for the National Vegetation Information System
The Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) has responsibility for the coordination of the National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA, first phase) native vegetation extent and condition fundamental dataset (referred to as NVIS Stage I dataset).
In consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), DEWHA will facilitate cooperation with, and between, data custodians to enhance the quality and integrity of the content of the fundamental data set (e.g. facilitate edge matching across borders).
Development of the NVIS framework will be undertaken jointly in Stage II by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (on behalf DAFF) and DEWHA.
Meeting and Reporting Framework
It is envisaged that ESCAVI would meet twice a year with additional meetings subject to identified need. Its performance will be periodically assessed.
Proposed Membership (13)
Membership of ESCAVI would broadly reflect the interests of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and key information managers. Each state and territory will be requested to ensure that its representative is capable of representing its jurisdiction's interests as a whole. Further, in developing ESCAVI's membership, efforts will be made to ensure that the make-up of state and territory representation as a whole broadly reflects a balance between conservation and production agencies.
Although each state and territory is encouraged to nominate a lead agency capable of representing the jurisdiction's interests, we recognise that state, territory and Commonwealth representation may need to be augmented from time to time.
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts — DEHWA (1)
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry — DAFF (1)
- National Land and Water Resources Audit (1)
- the nominated lead agency responsible for vegetation management in each of the states and territories (limit of 8 if possible)
It is also suggested that scope exists to augment state and territory participation where meeting agendas require specialised knowledge. The following agencies may be called upon from time to time by the Commonwealth in relation to national issues:
- Australian Greenhouse Office (1)
- Bureau of Rural Sciences or other DAFF
- Environmental Resources Information Network or other DEWHA
- National Forest Inventory Steering Committee
- representatives of regional natural resource management or planning groups in different states
- Other national coordination committees
- National Farmers' Federation (1)
- A local government representative (1)
- Conservation organisation representative(s) (1)
It shall also be open to ESCAVI to review its membership to ensure an appropriate balance of expertise and involvement of key users and data providers. Experts or representatives of organisations not listed above may be invited from time to time as and when it is deemed appropriate by the Chair to ensure informed consideration of issues.
Photo: M. Williams and DEWHA
Engagement with other stakeholders
DEWHA and DAFF representatives will be responsible for liaising with national bodies. State representatives will be responsible for liaison with state and regional bodies within their jurisdictions.
Proposed Chairing Arrangements
ESCAVI will be permanently chaired, and supported with a secretariat by the Australian Government. These roles will rotate every twelve months between DAFF and DEWHA.
Proposed Reporting Arrangements
ESCAVI will report to the National Land and Water Resources Audit Advisory Council on matters relating to data and information to support reporting against the National NRM Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. For policy related matters, ESCAVI reports to the Natural Resources Policies and Programs Committee.
Members and observers are to fund their own costs for attending meetings. Secretariat services will be provided by DAFF and DEHWA.