Bioregional planning

Available on this page:

Evaluating regional plans' publications
  • Short booklet: Evaluating regional plans in tropical savanna regions

  • Full report: Criteria & methods for evaluating regional plans in the tropical savannas

    These reports can be downloaded free below in PDF format, or for hardcopy versions contact the Communication Team, or project manager, Bruce Taylor, details below.

Savanna Planning Systems

Also see the new Project, Healthy Savanna Planning Systems, which develops on the work carried out in this project.

Status: Complete

Leader: Professor Geoff McDonald, University of Queensland, Brisbane

Full title: Bioregional planning in Australia’s savannas
Project 3.2.1

Summary | Support for land managers and planners | Regions | Need for research and critical evaluation | Future directions | Project team | More information |


This two-year project reviewed regional natural resource management (NRM) planning practice across the tropical savanna regions of Australia. Specifically, the project evaluated the technical capacity of regional plans to deliver on stated sustainability objectives, thereby providing an understanding of the current situation in planning and a benchmark for preparing and evaluating future plans. More than 45 regional plans were evaluated during the course of the project.

The research extended criteria and indicators for savanna health so ecological, economic and social criteria could be applied to regional NRM planning. It also identified the gaps in these areas that are needed in regional plans.

The project produced:

  • an evaluation methodology and criteria and,
  • the results of applying the methodology to regions in the tropical savannas.

Support for land managers and planners

Research and data collection is now complete, and a report that provides a guide and application notes to users Evaluating Regional Plans In Tropical Savanna Regions: A guide for regional planners and reviewers, is now available (you can download it at the bottom of this page).

A full technical report is now in preparation, along with separate reports on the individual regions of the savannas.


Queensland - Fitzroy, Burdekin-Dry Tropics, Cape York, Northern Gulf, Southern Gulf and Lake Eyre (Desert Channels)
Northern Territory – reviewed as one region including Darwin, Katherine, Ti Tree – Alice Springs)
Western Australia - Kimberley).

Need for research and critical evaluation

The experiences in conducting the project strongly confirmed the need for the research and critical development of criteria for plan evaluation. By extension, this means guidance for improved plan making in northern Australia.

We exceeded our expectations of the significance of the work, despite the limitation of it being limited to historical activities only.

In addition to the innovation in development of criteria and methodologies, a major strength of the project was the opportunity to work closely with government policy makers and, on a regular basis, to be able to achieve two-way communication with them.

The major challenge and opportunity for the project was that the practice of regional NRM planning in Australia is changing significantly resulting from the implementation of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) and the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT2).

These developments created a moving target for assessment but also opportunities for the research team to engage in the policy process and the development of new planning approaches.

Developing the rigorous understanding of both the outcomes criteria (healthy savanna landscapes) and the components of effective planning, have put the TS–CRC at the forefront in a number of planning and policy initiatives in the region.

Future directions

The project now has individual reports on each of the tropical savanna planning regions and a good understanding of their requirements for future development of NRM planning. We hope to capitalise on that understanding and partnerships with regional bodies to identify research and planning needs for CRC partners.

Two new projects are proposed:

  • Options for the Governance of Regional Planning and Development in the NT, in conjunction with the NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment,
  • Northern Gulf Draft Level Regional Plan in conjunction with the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group

Project team

Prof. Geoff McDonald, CSIRO SE
Bruce Taylor, CSIRO SE
Clive McAlpine, UQ
Adele Vagg, UQ
Allan Dale, Qld DNRM
Rod Applegate, NT DIPE


Increasingly planners are realizing that they need to take account of the way different sectors interact within regions – the dynamic nature of regions For example a new railway will have flow on effects on road transport tourism… [read more...]


Mr Bruce Taylor
Project Manager
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Qld Bioscience Precinct
Tel: 07 3214 2638

306 Carmody Road


Criteria and Methods for Evaluating regional plans in Tropical Savanna Regions
Short Guide for planners and reviewers [pdf 944.0 kb]

Criteria and Methods for Evaluating Regional Plans in Tropical Savanna Regions
Full Report [pdf 2.7 Mb]

Info Sheet: Bioregional planning in regional Australia
Bioregional planning in regional Australia & Improving vegetation and water-resource planning. Second-round CRC project [pdf 48.7 kb]

New Documents