Step 1: Deep dives into key priorities

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Outputs from deep dives into two key priorities

Part of the Framework’s mandate is improving the credibility of its indicators and measures. While the Framework aims to continuously improve its measures across all 23 priorities, some require more thorough examination.

In 2018-19, the SSG oversaw a thorough examination, or deep dive, into the balance of tree and grass cover priority, with information provided below. The SSG identified that vegetation measures were a critical gap, so they established an expert panel to help develop evidence-based indicators.

The SSG has selected animal husbandry techniques and health and safety of people in the industry as two key priorities for which they will conduct a deep dive.

Progress at June 2020

In the past year, the SSG has begun scoping an appropriate and credible approach for the animal husbandry techniques priority. While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a challenge, these deep dives remain a critical part of the SSG’s plan. The group will progress these deep dives by the next report.


Refining indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover priority

See a detailed description of the deep dive into balance of tree and grass cover here.

Expert Working Group

To help tackle this priority, the SSG convened the first multidisciplinary Expert Working Group (EWG) in June 2018 to review, refine and propose indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover.

The EWG included thought-leaders across the fields of ecology, remote sensing, biodiversity, conservation, animal productivity, and grasslands. These technical experts provided advice to the SSG on robust, credible and practical indicators and measures for the key priority area.

The experts provided diverse perspectives to the SSG from their different disciplines. Balancing these perspectives was one of the challenges in refining the indicators. Additionally, the vast regional differences in climate and ecosystems presents a challenge of how to develop national measures that are also regionally meaningful and able to be used to drive change on the ground in the coming years.

Expert Working Group members:

The process

The process to refine the indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover has been highly collaborative, incorporating feedback from experts, stakeholders, industry leaders and industry representative bodies.

Experts in ecology, remote sensing, biodiversity, conservation, animal productivity, forestry, grasslands and zoology were approached to join the EWG. Thirteen of these experts were interviewed over the phone to capture their preliminary thoughts on the original indicators.

In June 2018, the group met in Brisbane for a workshop to review the summary findings from the one-on-one discussions. At the first meeting, the EWG decided on principles to guide the refinement of the balance of tree and grass cover indicators, see below. The SSG agreed to these principles.


The EWG met again in November 2018 and provided additional feedback and advice throughout the process.

Stakeholders, including industry, environmental groups, customers and investors provided additional input.

At each of the SSG workshops since the launch of the 2018 Annual Update, the group has worked to refine the indicators by considering the feedback from the experts and stakeholders. The SSG has proposed revised indicators, to which experts, stakeholders, state farming organisations (SFOs) and peak industry councils (PICs), as well as the broader Consultative Committee have provided feedback.

In February 2019, select members from the SSG and EWG formed a task force to evaluate the feasibility and practicality of collecting data for the indicators to include in the 2019 Annual Update. The Framework further consulted with stakeholders and industry bodies, and the results were included in 2019 Annual Update.

Click here for a regional breakdown of tree and grass cover trends across Australia.


Outputs from deep dives into two key priorities

Part of the Framework’s mandate is improving the credibility of its indicators and measures. While the Framework aims to continuously improve its measures across all 23 priorities, some require more thorough examination.

In 2018-19, the SSG oversaw a thorough examination, or deep dive, into the balance of tree and grass cover priority, with information provided below. The SSG identified that vegetation measures were a critical gap, so they established an expert panel to help develop evidence-based indicators.

The SSG has selected animal husbandry techniques and health and safety of people in the industry as two key priorities for which they will conduct a deep dive.

Progress at June 2020

In the past year, the SSG has begun scoping an appropriate and credible approach for the animal husbandry techniques priority. While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a challenge, these deep dives remain a critical part of the SSG’s plan. The group will progress these deep dives by the next report.


Refining indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover priority

See a detailed description of the deep dive into balance of tree and grass cover here.

Expert Working Group

To help tackle this priority, the SSG convened the first multidisciplinary Expert Working Group (EWG) in June 2018 to review, refine and propose indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover.

The EWG included thought-leaders across the fields of ecology, remote sensing, biodiversity, conservation, animal productivity, and grasslands. These technical experts provided advice to the SSG on robust, credible and practical indicators and measures for the key priority area.

The experts provided diverse perspectives to the SSG from their different disciplines. Balancing these perspectives was one of the challenges in refining the indicators. Additionally, the vast regional differences in climate and ecosystems presents a challenge of how to develop national measures that are also regionally meaningful and able to be used to drive change on the ground in the coming years.

Expert Working Group members:

The process

The process to refine the indicators for the balance of tree and grass cover has been highly collaborative, incorporating feedback from experts, stakeholders, industry leaders and industry representative bodies.

Experts in ecology, remote sensing, biodiversity, conservation, animal productivity, forestry, grasslands and zoology were approached to join the EWG. Thirteen of these experts were interviewed over the phone to capture their preliminary thoughts on the original indicators.

In June 2018, the group met in Brisbane for a workshop to review the summary findings from the one-on-one discussions. At the first meeting, the EWG decided on principles to guide the refinement of the balance of tree and grass cover indicators, see below. The SSG agreed to these principles.


The EWG met again in November 2018 and provided additional feedback and advice throughout the process.

Stakeholders, including industry, environmental groups, customers and investors provided additional input.

At each of the SSG workshops since the launch of the 2018 Annual Update, the group has worked to refine the indicators by considering the feedback from the experts and stakeholders. The SSG has proposed revised indicators, to which experts, stakeholders, state farming organisations (SFOs) and peak industry councils (PICs), as well as the broader Consultative Committee have provided feedback.

In February 2019, select members from the SSG and EWG formed a task force to evaluate the feasibility and practicality of collecting data for the indicators to include in the 2019 Annual Update. The Framework further consulted with stakeholders and industry bodies, and the results were included in 2019 Annual Update.

Click here for a regional breakdown of tree and grass cover trends across Australia.