Index of Biodiversity Surveys for Assessments (IBSA)

Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Index of Biodiversity Surveys for Assessments (IBSA). These should be read in conjunction with the IBSA information page on the department’s website, and the IBSA instructions and templates available on the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) website.

IBSA requirements

If you are submitting a biodiversity survey report to the department, the EPA or the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), to support an assessment, post-assessment or compliance process under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, it will need to be accompanied by an IBSA data package that has been prepared according to the IBSA instructions and templates.

The IBSA partner organisations are committed to working with proponents and applicants during an initial transition period, ending 29 April 2019, to assist them toward submitting data packages that conform to the IBSA instructions and templates. Box 1 of the Instructions for the preparation of data packages for the Index of Biodiversity Surveys for Assessments document explains the transition period in detail.

Yes, if you are submitting biodiversity survey reports to the EPA as part of your referral. Similarly, if you are asked by the EPA to provide additional information to assist it in determining whether it will assess your scheme/scheme amendment, and this additional information includes biodiversity survey reports, then IBSA data packages would also be required.

If the EPA determines that it will assess your scheme/scheme amendment, and biodiversity surveys are required by the EPA’s instructions for preparing the environmental review document, then IBSA data packages would be required to accompany the biodiversity survey reports.

If the EPA determines that it will not assess your scheme/scheme amendment, only the biodiversity reports supplied prior to the determination would be subject to the IBSA requirements.

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 that includes the biodiversity survey report and the data obtained during the site visit, but not the existing data from the desktop component.

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 the department but not made public. For more detail refer to the IBSA instructions and templates and the explanatory notes in the IBSA Metadata and Licensing Statement.

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).

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 the department – 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.

No. For technical and resourcing reasons, at this time DWER is unable to amend Metadata and Licensing Statements or process requests to change the public availability of data packages once they have been finalised and uploaded to the IBSA web portal.

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.

Proponents and applicants do not upload data directly to IBSA. IBSA data packages are submitted as electronic appendices to biodiversity survey reports, via existing channels, as part of the department’s, EPA and DMIRS assessment and compliance processes under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Once the assessment officer has confirmed that the IBSA data package has been prepared in accordance with the IBSA instructions and templates, they will forward it to the IBSA team.

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 and must be adhered to regardless of whether or not an IBSA data package has been submitted.

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 the department 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, the department will consult with DBCA regarding the need to withhold any significant species information. If necessary the department will remove such information prior to data packages being made publicly available on the IBSA portal.

No. SLIP and 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.

No. Data packages that have been licensed to be made publicly available on the IBSA web portal, including all survey metadata, will be accessible to anybody – including government agencies. However, non-public data packages, i.e. those that have been archived at DWER but have not been licensed to be made publicly available, will be available only to the original receiving agency.

For example, a non-public data package that was received by DWER to support a Native Vegetation Clearing Permit application would remain available to DWER for future review, but would not be available to the EPA.

Where cross-agency access to information is required it will be facilitated by the public IBSA web portal, not by the IBSA team at DWER. In these cases government agencies will have the same level of access to information, the same options for acquiring datasets based on metadata and the same conditions for using information that other IBSA users have.

At this stage, it is outside of IBSA’s scope to publish reports and datasets from surveys that were not conducted to support the department’s, EPA and DMIRS assessment and compliance processes under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. If you have a significant quantity of such information, please contact to discuss what options may exist.

Using the IBSA portal

Go to the main IBSA information page on the department’s website and click on the link to the IBSA portal. 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 Statement 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.

Review Sections 3 and 4 of the Metadata and Licencing Statement, 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 Licensing Statement and retain it alongside the downloaded information.

No. This Project 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).

No. Individual survey pages in IBSA currently contain some elements that are present because they are part of the functionality of the underlying web platform but are not in use by IBSA itself. This includes the ‘Blog’ tab and the ‘You can participate in this project in’, ‘UN Regions’ and ‘Project originally registered in’ fields under the ‘About’ tab. These will be removed when time and resources permit.