Program: Index of biodiversity surveys for assessments

The Index of Biodiversity Surveys for Assessments (IBSA) program provides industry, regulators and the community with an index of land-based biodiversity surveys conducted in Western Australia. IBSA helps to create better environmental outcomes by maximising the availability of biodiversity data.
    IBSA banner, bushland in foreground and lake in the distance

    Objectives

    The objectives of IBSA are to capture and consolidate data contained in biodiversity survey reports that support assessments and compliance under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (the EP Act) and to provide a platform to make the information publicly available.

    The consolidation of biodiversity data in IBSA delivers:

    • more efficient assessments for proponents
    • a broader decision-making base for regulators
    • an expanded knowledge base of WA’s flora and fauna
    • improved availability of environmental information for the community.

    Further information about IBSA is provided in our IBSA promotional brochure and IBSA fact sheet, available in the ‘Publications’ section, below.

    Scope

    Data associated with land-based biodiversity survey reports submitted to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) under the EP Act are required to be submitted to IBSA.

    This includes surveys conducted for assessment and post-assessment processes for significant and strategic proposals, schemes and scheme amendments, native vegetation clearing permits and works approvals and licences.

    Information submitted to IBSA includes reports and datasets from flora and vegetation, terrestrial fauna, subterranean fauna and terrestrial aquatic biodiversity surveys. Surveys in marine environments are not included in IBSA; this information should instead be submitted to the Index of Marine Surveys for Assessments.

    Submissions

    Proponents and applicants are required to prepare IBSA data packages to accompany biodiversity survey reports used to support assessment and compliance processes. An IBSA data package consists of:

    • the survey report
    • a metadata and licencing statement, completed online
    • spatially referenced data derived from the survey.

    IBSA data packages must be submitted via IBSA Submissions. If the data package is incomplete, i.e. it does not include all of the information required by IBSA Submissions, the system will not allow it to be submitted. An incomplete data package cannot be saved in the system – it will need to be resubmitted once it has been revised.

    Once a complete IBSA data package has been submitted, a submission number is supplied to the submitter. The IBSA team will then review the submitted IBSA data package in accordance with the IBSA instructions and templates. The submitter will be supplied with an IBSA number if the IBSA data package meets the requirements, otherwise they will be notified of the changes required.

    Further information about IBSA Submissions is provided in our IBSA Submissions fact sheet, available in the ‘Publications’ section, below.

    More information

    The IBSA website and data packages are to be used in accordance with the IBSA disclaimer and the metadata and licensing statements/summaries associated with the individual data packages.

    For a broad overview of IBSA, refer to the IBSA familiarisation session video, below. For additional information on the IBSA requirements and using the IBSA website, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), below.

    For instructions and templates to be used when preparing a new IBSA data package, refer to the EPA website. For an overview of how to submit an IBSA data package online, refer to the IBSA Submissions Demonstration video, below.

    IBSA-related queries that can’t be answered using the resources available here may be sent to ibsa@dwer.wa.gov.au. Queries related to supplying IBSA data packages for specific proposals and applications should be directed to the relevant assessing organisation.

    Video – IBSA familiarisation session

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    DWER held a series of stakeholder familiarisation sessions for the IBSA initiative in April 2018, prior to its formal launch. These sessions gave a broad overview of the development of the initiative, its objectives, the associated instructions and templates and the functionality of the IBSA portal.

    A recording of one of these familiarisation sessions is available below. This information is provided as general reference material only; for current IBSA policies and instructions, please refer to the other information on this page and on the EPA website.

    Video – IBSA Submissions demonstration

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    For an overview of how to use IBSA Submissions to submit an IBSA data package online, refer to the IBSA Submissions demonstration video available below.

    FAQs – IBSA requirements

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    Am I required to submit data to IBSA?

    If you are submitting a biodiversity survey report to DWER, the EPA or DMIRS, to support an assessment, post-assessment or compliance process under the EP Act, it will need to be accompanied by an IBSA data package which has been prepared according to the IBSA instructions and templates.

    Does my post-assessment, ongoing monitoring or compliance process require an IBSA data package to be submitted?

    Any time a biodiversity survey report is submitted to DWER, the EPA or DMIRS for assessment, post-assessment or compliance purposes, it must be accompanied by an IBSA data package. Where there is no requirement for a biodiversity survey report to be submitted, there is no requirement for an IBSA data package.

    Approvals under the EP Act often require the periodic submission of reports to demonstrate compliance with conditions of approval, such as Compliance Assessment Reports and Annual Environmental Reports. These reports are not biodiversity survey reports, so do not require IBSA data packages – though if a biodiversity survey report was supplied to support one of these compliance reports, it would need to be accompanied by an IBSA data package.

    If conditions of approval require a post-assessment biodiversity survey or ongoing biodiversity monitoring, and submission of the resulting biodiversity survey reports to DWER, the EPA or DMIRS, then IBSA data packages must accompany these biodiversity survey reports. In cases where submission of such reports is not a requirement of approval conditions, the submission of IBSA data packages is encouraged but is not mandatory.

    Should I submit data associated with desktop studies to IBSA?

    No. IBSA data packages are only required for field surveys that have generated new data. Studies based entirely on previously existing observations, for example desktop studies, do not require IBSA data packages. If a study is based on a mix of existing and new data, for example a basic survey that comprises a desktop study and a site visit, an IBSA data package should be supplied. This package should include the biodiversity survey report and the data obtained during the site visit, but not the existing data from the desktop component.

    Is all biodiversity survey information provided for assessment automatically made public in IBSA?

    No. The intellectual property owner decides whether the IBSA data package submitted to support an assessment or compliance process will be made public. If a licence to publish is not granted, then the IBSA data package will be archived at DWER but not made public. For more information refer to the IBSA instructions and templates and the supporting information and definitions available at the metadata and licensing statement step in the IBSA Submissions process.

    Note that survey reports may still be made publicly available, outside of IBSA, because of the assessment process itself (e.g. to support public comment).

    At what point during the IBSA process are data packages made publicly available in IBSA? Can I amend a data package once it has been submitted?

    Only once the receiving agency has made and published its final decision or recommendation on the assessment, review or compliance process will IBSA make the relevant data packages publicly available (in accordance with the terms of any licence that has been granted by the intellectual property owner). Until then, the data packages remain in a quarantine environment at DWER. This means that during the assessment or compliance process, via the relevant assessment officer, the submitter can provide corrected or updated data packages if there is a need to do so.

    Will changes to species names or conservation statuses be updated in IBSA?

    No. IBSA is not a relational database, and species records are not linked to any external datasets that will result in updates to the data housed in IBSA. If species names or other attributes change during an assessment or compliance process, resulting in a revised biodiversity survey report being submitted to the receiving agency, a similarly revised IBSA data package should also be submitted.

    How do I submit my reports and data to IBSA?

    IBSA data packages must be submitted via IBSA Submissions. If a data package is incomplete, i.e. it does not include all of the information required by IBSA Submissions, the system will not allow it to be submitted. An incomplete data package cannot be saved in the system – it will need to be resubmitted once it has been revised.

    Once a complete IBSA data package has been submitted, a submission number is supplied to the submitter. The IBSA team will then review the submitted IBSA data package in accordance with the IBSA instructions and templates. The submitter will be supplied with an IBSA number if the IBSA data package meets the requirements, otherwise they will be notified of the changes required.

    If I am submitting an IBSA data package, do I still have to submit data, such as significant species observations, to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)?

    Yes. IBSA data packages do not feed into DBCA processes. Any requirements for the supply of survey reports and data to DBCA, for example where the conditions of a collecting licence require DBCA to be informed of significant species observations, still apply. They must be adhered to regardless of whether or not an IBSA data package has been submitted.

    Am I permitted to submit information on threatened, priority and other significant species to IBSA?

    Yes. The goal of IBSA is to publicly share biodiversity survey data collected to support environmental assessments, which may include significant species location information. DBCA has endorsed the operation of the system, whilst retaining its ability to advise DWER of data that represents sensitive information required to be withheld for biodiversity conservation reasons.

    Proponents and environmental practitioners submitting IBSA data packages should include all species records, including those for significant species. As required during the review and quarantine period for each data package, DWER will consult with DBCA regarding the need to withhold any significant species information. If necessary DWER will remove such information prior to data packages being made publicly available on the IBSA website.

    Is IBSA part of the Shared Location Information Platform (SLIP) or data.wa.gov.au?

    No. SLIP and data.wa.gov.au contain curated, general-purpose datasets. Reports and datasets in IBSA are not curated and were prepared for supporting specific assessments. The collation of this material in IBSA, for use beyond these specific assessments, is done voluntarily as a public service as per the IBSA disclaimer.

    I have a biodiversity survey report, but it is not related to an EP Act assessment or compliance process. Can I submit this to IBSA?

    It is outside of IBSA’s scope to publish reports and datasets from surveys that were not conducted to support DWER, EPA and DMIRS assessment and compliance processes under the EP Act. If you have a significant quantity of such information, please contact ibsa@dwer.wa.gov.au to discuss what options may exist.

    FAQs – Using the IBSA website

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    How do I access IBSA data packages, i.e. biodiversity survey reports and associated data?

    Go to the IBSA website. Browse the surveys or use the filters on the left, including the geographic filter, to find the surveys you are looking for. Note that the individual surveys displayed in the map, list and tile views, to the right of the filter panel, will be constrained by the number you have set to display per page (20, 50, 100 or 500).

    Click on a survey title to go to the page for that survey. There you can view basic details of the survey under the ‘About’ tab, and see the metadata and licencing summary and any available reports and data files under the ‘Resources’ tab. Survey reports and data files will only be present if the intellectual property owner has licensed them for publication via the metadata and licencing statement.

    How do I log in to the IBSA website? Are there fees for using it?

    You do not need to log in to the IBSA website. Although there is a ‘Login’ button in the bottom banner, this is only for IBSA site administrators. IBSA users can access all IBSA’s functionality without requiring an account or paying any access fees.

    How do I search and filter IBSA data packages?

    The search box at the top right of the ‘Surveys’ page offers limited keyword searching. It searches only within metadata, i.e. titles, authors and the information under ‘Survey details’ and ‘Citation’ under the ‘About’ tab. Full text searching within reports and datasets is not supported. The search box is most useful when searching for a specific data package; refer to the question ‘How do I search by ‘IBSA number’ for a specific IBSA data package?’, below.

    The filter pane on the left-hand side of the ‘Surveys’ page offers limited filtering of results by ‘Receiving agency’, ‘Assessment type’ and ‘Author’. Only one filter may be applied per category. Click on ‘Refine’ to apply your selected options. Once a filter has been applied, the search box may also be used to conduct a keyword search within the filter results.

    The ‘Geographic filter’ option is the most powerful and intuitive way of browsing IBSA data packages. Click ‘Filter by geographic region’ in the filter pane, apply a filter area using the popup box and click ‘Next’. In the popup box you can:

    • orient yourself by making the map full screen, toggling different base layers and overlays, searching for a specific location and zooming in and out
    • apply a custom filter area by drawing a square, circle or freeform polygon
    • apply a predefined filter area using the ‘Select a known shape’ button – options include bioregions and subregions, local government areas, Ramsar wetland regions and NRM regions.

    How do I search by IBSA number for a specific IBSA data package?

    Each IBSA data package is assigned a unique IBSA number in the format ‘IBSA-YYYY-NNNN’. If you know the IBSA number for a data package you want to find, enter this number within double quotation marks in the search box at the top right of the ‘Surveys’ page. For example, if you wanted to find IBSA-2019-1234 you would enter “IBSA-2019-1234”. This data package will then be the first entry on the page of search results (this will not be apparent in map view – switch to tile or list view if necessary).

    If you cannot find the data package you are looking for, remember that it might not yet have been published online; refer to the question ‘At what point during the IBSA process are data packages made publicly available in IBSA?’ in the 'FAQs – IBSA requirements' section, above.

    How should I navigate search and filter results?

    If you perform a keyword search or apply a text filter, display your search results in tile or list view and navigate to an individual survey page, you will see a ‘Back to search results’ button on that survey page. Use this to return to the results of your search or filter.

    If you perform a keyword search or apply a text filter, display your search results in map view and navigate to an individual survey page, you will not see a ‘Back to search results’ button on that survey page. Instead, use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to the results of your search or filter.

    If you apply a geographic filter and navigate to an individual survey page, do not use the ‘Back to search results’ button or your browser’s ‘back’ button. If you do, your filter results will be lost. Instead, open individual survey pages in new browser tabs, preserving your filter results in the original tab.

    From any page, select ‘Surveys’ in the top banner to cancel all keyword searches and filters and return to the complete list of IBSA data packages.

    How do I know whether I have permission to use reports and data I have found in IBSA?

    Review Sections 3 and 4 of the metadata and licencing summary, under the ‘Resources’ tab for the relevant survey in IBSA, by downloading it or using the online document preview feature. These sections show what type of licensing has been allowed by the intellectual property owner; users of IBSA must adhere to the terms of these licences, as well as the general terms detailed in the IBSA disclaimer. If you download survey reports or data files from IBSA, you should also download the relevant metadata and licencing summary and retain it alongside the downloaded information.

    Is the ‘Survey Area’, shown under the ‘About’ tab for a survey, exact?

    No. This Survey Area boundary is approximate, and is simply intended to facilitate geographic searching in IBSA and give a general overview of the area covered by a biodiversity survey report. If it is important that you know the exact boundaries of a survey, you should examine the survey details spatial dataset provided under the ‘Resources’ tab (if available).

    I can't see the ‘Survey Area’ under the ‘About’ tab. What should I do?

    The map viewer built into the 'About' tab for surveys on the IBSA website can sometimes behave unexpectedly. There is a known issue with the default display of the Survey Area map, particularly when the page length is less than the screen height. It will correct itself when you scroll down, but short pages may not be able to scroll down and therefore can’t auto-correct. If the map viewer is not showing survey boundaries correctly, please try:

    • updating your browser (note that the IBSA website is optimised for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome – it will also work on other browsers, but we recommend Firefox or Chrome)
    • removing or disabling browser extensions such as ad blockers
    • resetting the size of the browser window, e.g. by maximising then restoring it
    • toggling different base layers in the map viewer, e.g. switch from the 'Road Map' base layer to the 'Satellite' base layer.
    Page reviewed 27 October 2020