Standards for Natural Resource Management in Victoria

The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) Output Data and Delivery Standards are two principal Standards developed under the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework (MER Framework).

These Standards, including the revised (v3.0) Output Data Standard, are designed to provide guidance for best-practice planning, implementation, evaluation and reporting.

The Output Data Standard (the Standard) describes the minimum information requirements for reporting on the most common goods and services (i.e. outputs) that the department purchases through its range of investment programs. Specifically, the Data Standard provides:

  • a range of standard descriptors for the outputs from investment
  • clarity on the requirements for reporting on investment outputs
  • the basis for consistent data, systems and reporting on investment outputs.

The standard outputs enable:

  • broad and consistent public reporting, such as the regular CMA Achievements Report
  • improved support for the development of data capture and reporting systems
  • improved tracking of historical investment
  • creation of a database that records all relevant investment outputs across all participating agencies.

The following standards ensure consistent delivery and reporting of environmental activities:

Some DEECA Agencies have activity-specific data requirements, one significant element in this space is DEECA's biodiversity division, who have a series of online tools and additional guidelines for the collection of data specific to on ground activities:

To assist business units and external partners adopt the technical elements of the Output Data Standard into their management and reporting systems, DEECA has also created an ESRI geodatabase which can be downloaded and provisioned into spatially-capable systems. This includes an .xml format to assist with integrating into enterprise level systems.

Version 3 of the DEECA Output Data Standard in an ESRI geodatabase format.

Download version 3 (2021) (ZIP, 312.0 KB)

Reporting Frameworks for Natural Resource Management in Victoria

DEECA's Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Framework aims to improve the capacity of the Victorian NRM sector to communicate the outcomes of programs and policy. It also supports the efficient gathering of information to inform future decision making.

The audience for the MER Framework includes policy and program managers in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEECA) and other NRM agencies that contribute to the management of Victoria’s land, water and biodiversity.

The Framework was developed by the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Unit, Natural Resources Division, in consultation with the (then) DSE Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Working Group, Catchment Management.

Authorities and the Victorian Catchment Management Council. DEECA's MER Framework is consistent with the Australian Government’s NRM Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) framework1. Both frameworks support documentation of the logical links between on-ground activities and planned outcomes as the central supporting structure for monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement through adaptive management.

DEECA's MER Framework forms the foundational structure for a package of documents that includes a set of standards to guide how MER should be carried out in Victoria.

Fundamentally, the Framework provides a common language for MER in plans and strategies. The standards developed aim to support improved consistency in implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

The following reporting frameworks and standards support consistent information for sharing information and reporting:

1 The Australian Government’s NRM MERI framework is available at

Catchment management authority reporting

The Victorian Catchment Management Authorities Actions and Achievements Report provides a standardised ‘output’ approach to reporting actions delivered annually by each of the ten Victorian Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs); through partnerships with government agencies, industry, land managers and the wider community.

The first of these reports, which was released in 2013-14, focused on documenting the actions delivered under Victorian Government funding. From 2014-15 we have built on this approach by also including outputs achieved through Commonwealth and ‘other’ funding sources.

The report forms part of the monitoring of programs by each CMA board and will be submitted to Government and community each year.

Guidance on Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) for Natural Resource Management in Victoria

DEECA is always working to improve reporting on the condition and management of Victoria's environment.

Quality reporting is essential to properly account for the investment of public funds and ensure that the community is informed about the work of DEECA agencies, partners and the state of our Natural Resources.

The effective management of Victoria’s land, water and biodiversity requires the government and community to have access to reliable information on which to base decisions.

Well planned Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) plays an important role in supporting decision making that focuses on continuous improvement. Information generated from MER allows natural resource managers to adapt policies, programs and investment in response to risks and opportunities. Appropriate MER can also assist in improving accountability for the use of public funds. It can provide information on resource condition, the impacts of external drivers or management (known and unknown), recognising that the impacts of management activities (e.g. revegetation) generally occur on a smaller scale compared to external drivers such as environmental events (e.g. bushfire) or social changes (e.g. population growth).

Specifically, MER can provide information related to:

  • resource condition: the condition of natural resources
  • external drivers: the impact of environmental events and social changes (e.g. climate change, bushfire, population growth) on resource condition
  • management: the location, impact and effectiveness of management in contributing to management outcomes and resource condition change. This management may or may not be known to NRM agencies.

Who reports on Victoria's Natural Resource Management (NRM) activities?

DEECA takes a collaborative approach to consistent NRM reporting. Together with its partner agencies, DEECA supports production of the:

DELWP Output Delivery Standards (PDF, 1.4 MB)

output delivery standardscontentstable

List of Current Supported Delivery Standards

Stock fencingHerbaceous weed control
Plant establishmentMinimising the spread of weeds and plant pathogens
Planting density, diversity and placement for seedlingsWoody weed control
Ecological thinning of Eucalypt speciesVertebrate animal control
Soil preparation for replantingEcological grazing

Output Data and Delivery Standards Training and Support Material

Output Data Standard Online Seminar #1 – Overview
Output Data Standard Online Seminar #2 - Geodatabase Introduction

Output Data Standard (v3.0) 2021 - ESRI File Geodatabase & XML Enterprise Geodatabase Installation guidance note (PDF, 873.8 KB)
Output Data Standard Outputs v2 - v3_2021 changes (Excel, 90.3 KB)

Case Studies demonstrating practical use of the data standard are currently under development.

Output Data Standard v3.0 & Geodatabase Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Output ID is a Unique Identifier for all outputs, can the agency code be a unique mix of letters to assist in identifying output type?

A: Yes. The preference is to use the historically common identifiers (eg – MCMA, GBCMA, etc) However, other combinations are acceptable as long as they are consistent and the organisation identifier is proceeded by a dash “-“ to allow for automated parsing. For example, MCMA may wish to use four of the six letters of the agency code to identify feature types. A consistent way to do this might be:

  1. MA-Fenc, MA-Publ, MA-TFea, MA-TStr
  2. The results being:
    1. MA-Fenc000999-21/22
    2. MA-Publ000999-21/22
    3. MA-TFea000999-21/22
    4. MA-TStr000999-21/22

NB: Please note that there are no spaces in the output ID code, including before or after the dash “-“ or the forward slash “/” in the year completed reference.

Q: Spatial Objects for 1.9 Fence. This section (pg 37) communicates quite strongly that the second and subsequent spatial object is OPTIONAL, is this correct?

A: The fence output must be recorded as a line in all circumstances (install, maintain, remove, modify, replace). A polygon is also required when the fence leads to a new area of land that is protected or improved. This is applicable to all new fence installations (i.e. where ‘install’ is selected as the activity type in the specific attributes). There may also be times when other fence activity types (e.g. replace, modify, or maintain) lead to a new area protected/improved in which case a polygon (representing only the newly protected and improved area) must be recorded. More often these activities will simply enclose a pre-existing fenced area and in this case no polygon is to be recorded, e.g. a replacement fence after a flood. In this case, the area protected/improved attribute should be left blank because the purpose of this activity is to continue to protect an area that was fenced, not an activity to protect/improve a new area.

Q: The 1.9 Fence Output may have 2 spatial objects related to each other by the same output ID code. Is that correct? How does it work?

A: Yes. The spatial features for the Output 1.9 Fence should both use the same output ID Code (ie – one entry for Line feature and one entry for Polygon feature, where required). There will not be a conflict in the spatial database because the two objects are different spatial FEATURE CLASSES.

Q: How do I know which delivery standard I should use (or am using)? Will there be further guidance on this?

A: The current, published Output Delivery Standard is Version 2.1 (published June 2015). Future iterations of this standard will include a wider scope and some reference to external standards. The next iteration of the delivery standard will be in a compendium format, published under a major revision number (v3.0). You should refer to your individual funding agreement for further information regarding which standard should be used for a particular activity.

Q: When dealing with specific attributes which would normally be written as measures in superscript (eg - m2) is it acceptable to use plain numbers, instead of superscript (eg – m2)?

A: Yes. Plain numerals are acceptable in place of superscript. This can be managed by use of header and preamble rows in flat files as well as by domains in an ESRI File Geodatabase, among other methods for relational databases.

Q: For Output types which have both linear and area measures available in the specific attributes, is there a defined logic of which measure to use for each Output type?

A: No. At this stage, the logic will be left up to the on ground works agent. The spatial object will be a point feature class for these outputs (1.5 Waterway Structure, 1.6 Terrestrial Structure) and the magnitude of the structure is expected to be within tolerable error limits (eg – field identification of a sea-wall/groyne vs a root ball for fish habitat, the magnitude of the structure should be obvious, even if the object itself is small). Specific advice may be created at a later date should significant error be observed in the data.

Q: EVC / Biotope is now required in Output 2.1 Vegetation. Apart from the Vegetation chapter in the Output Delivery Standard, is there further information and/or classification tables available elsewhere?

A: Yes. Further information on biodiversity classifications is located here:

For further information, contact DEECA's Biodiversity Division.

Q: 4.2 Management Agreement includes an “either/or” requirement for the spatial object. Is there a naming convention between the two objects?

A: No. Identifying the difference between the output specific types will be done using the spatial object as the classification. For further guidance, see page 99 (4.2 Management Agreement) of the Output Data Standard v3.0.

Q: When concatenating multiple selections into a single string of text (eg - Audience, Focus, Data Storage, Flow Type, Specific Activity, Target Species etc). Do we use only a "comma" or both "comma space" between each item?

A: This question represents a misunderstanding of how these multi-value fields are to be used.  There is no situation in which they would (or indeed could, if they are using the Esri geodatabase) be entering multiple strings with commas.

For the Audience attribute, for example, which allows multiple values from a standard perspective, in the geodatabase there are three fields provided in the Engagement Event feature class, targetAudience1, targetaudience2 and targetAudience3.  Users can select only a single value for each of these fields and cannot enter strings at all – they select a domain value and the related numeric code is stored in the field. See section 3.4 of the Output Data Standard v3.0 Geodatabase guidance document for further information.

Q: There are several Specific attributes requiring numeric values, which also have the option of using ‘NA’ if not applicable. How does this work in systems which cannot mix numbers and text strings? Is Zero ok as a substitute for NA?

A: No. Use of zero values also add problems in some database structures. DEECA opted for use of coded domains to simplify this. Therefore, NA would be represented by the code ‘1897’ in the geodatabase. See section 3.5 of the Output Data Standard v3.0 Geodatabase guidance document for further information.

Q. The specific attribute Target Audience has many items - if ALL are selected, the result is >255 characters, but some OGR2OGR / Geospatial extracts are limited to 254 characters! Will this be an issue?

A: No. For the Audience attribute, which allows multiple values from a standard perspective, in the geodatabase there are three fields provided in the Engagement Event feature class, targetAudience1, targetaudience2 and targetAudience3.  Users can select only a single value for each of these fields and cannot enter strings at all – they select a domain value and the related numeric code is stored in the field. See section 3.4 of the Output Data Standard v3.0 Geodatabase guidance document for further information.

Syntax questions:

  1. Q: Ground water / Groundwater appears 19 times in the document, but as an inconsistent mixture – which is correct?
    A: Groundwater is the correct reference.
  2. Q: 4.4 Engagement event - p 107 Focus –
    1. Conservation management/ techniques, OR
    2. Conservation
    3. management/ techniques

    A: Conservation management/techniques is the correct reference.

  3. Q: 4.4 Engagement event - p 107 Focus –

    1. General occupational health and safety, OR
    2. General
    3. occupational health and safety

    A: General occupational health and safety is the correct reference.

Q: In some lists, the words are all capitalised, in others only the first word is capitalised, in some there is a mixture - e.g. 1.5 Gross Pollutant Trap, Large wood A. Is there a standard?

A: Yes. Capitalisation of the first letter of the first word in most fields is the standard, except where the letter is a reference, such as in ‘Large wood A’ (1.5 Waterway Structure).

Page last updated: 15/09/23