Restricted Access Species Data Pathways From Decision Making to Research

Cross-jurisdictional access to full-resolution restricted access species data for environmental management.
A colourful Gouldian finch
Restricted Access Species Data Pathways From Decision Making to Research
Project lead
Atlas of Living Australia (ALA)
Who will benefit
Governments at all levels, planners, and policymakers


February 2021 to March 2023

Current Phase

In progress

ARDC Co-investment


The Challenge

Restricted access species data is central to research on biodiversity, ecological systems, and anthropogenic climate change. It’s also crucial to industry activities and key Commonwealth, state and territory policies, programs, and regulation. Examples of what this data can point to include:

  • the locations of threatened species
  • biosecurity threats to Australian agriculture
  • private details about the people who made the observations.

But this data often resides in jurisdictional data repositories without nationally consistent licensing and access. While data aggregators like the Atlas of Living Australia provide access to the data, spatial and temporal aspects are obscured due to different access and licensing arrangements.

As events like the 2019–20 bushfires have shown, cross-jurisdictional access to the data in its full resolution is critical to understanding the impact and planning mitigation and recovery efforts. Without this access, it’s difficult to carry out research and decision-making integral to conserving Australia’s biodiversity and supporting resource industries.

The Response

By streamlining processes and systems, this project will enable the sharing of restricted access species data for users with appropriate authority. A national aggregated restricted access species data source will allow approved researchers and other users to run species distribution models, locate possible populations, help with the listing of species, and deliver various other research and policy outcomes.

The project will create:

A national framework on restricted access species data

An agreement among jurisdictions on the processes, approvals, permissions and data licensing required to form a centralised Restricted Access Species Data Repository and to load and download data to and from the repository

A restricted access species data source

A comprehensive data source for data providers to supply data and for registered, approved users to access it

A secure data safe haven

A proof-of-concept workspace for modelling, where registered users can work with restricted access species data from the repository

A sustainable model

Governance and report mechanisms will be established to ensure that the project evolves into a business-as-usual model and continues to demonstrate relevance after completion.

This project is due to be completed by the end of February 2023, and final reports will be published.

Who Will Benefit

This project will benefit:

  • researchers
  • peak bodies
  • research organisations
  • infrastructure providers
  • commercial infrastructure providers
  • governments (state, territory and Commonwealth)
  • data analysts
  • resource sector industries
  • environmental consultants.

The Partners

  • NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment 
  • NT Department of Environment and Natural Resources 
  • The Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate of the ACT 
  • WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
  • SA Department of Environment and Water
  • Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning 
  • Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
  • QLD Department of Environment and Science
  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 
  • Atlas of Living Australia, CSIRO
  • EcoCommons Australia
  • Pawsey Supercomputing Centre
  • The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute
  • Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections

Targeted Outcomes

This project mobilises data on Australia’s most threatened species to deliver national datasets and models to support timely, best-practise decision making and high quality research outcomes.

The project will facilitate:

Transdisciplinary research

High-resolution, cross-jurisdictional data will enable researchers, government, and industry to research and answer questions more precisely with the most up-to-date data

Community support and involvement

A restricted access species data repository offers an opportunity for researchers, industry and the public to contribute to the decision-making by recording more about restricted access species

Impactful decision-making

A secure data haven for modelling allows government, researchers, and industry users to develop restricted access species models for research and decision-making

Evidence-based decision-making

Approved access to cross-jurisdictional species data in full resolution will help researchers, industry, and government agencies make evidence-based decisions.

Key Resources

For more information, please visit the Atlas of Living Australia

Restricted access species data is key to a number of Commonwealth, state, and territory legislations. Read more about 2 of them: 

  1. the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  2. the Biosecurity Act 2015, which aims to manage risks to human health, trade, agriculture, and the environment arising from the introduction of exotic species, viruses, and pathogens.

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