Protecting threatened and otherwise sensitive orchids


WOW Sensitive Species Guidelines

WOW has adopted the Australian Government’s Sensitive Ecological Data – Access and Management Policy v1.0 (2016).

Successful long term management and sharing of sensitive ecological data is about trust, risk management, the credibility of the participating organisations and the desire to disseminate the best available data to inform management of the environment. The most effective approach to managing sensitive data is to have a consistent methodology that is applied by all organisations with the same or similar information.

The policy can be downloaded from the Department of the Environment and Energy website.

Some key points about the policy are:

Open access by default - data should be freely available, with all sensitivities addressed using targeted treatment methods. If identical data is publicly available through other sources, it cannot be considered sensitive.

Be accountable - the decision to restrict access to data needs to be justifiable, consistent and repeatable and abide by relevant legislation, regulations or policy.

Retain the original data - data custodians must retain an unaltered original version of the ecological data and safeguard this original version using best practice information management procedures.

Transparency - documentation should be linked to the data and must be available to all users of the data. Documentation ensures potential data users understand what data exists, why it was classed as sensitive and how it has been altered or protected.

What is wow doing to protect location details of sensitive orchids?

WOW is working with State/Territory agencies responsible for environmental data to ensure sensitive species (also known as confidential species and restricted taxa) are up to date, ensuring processes are in place to manage data correctly, and determining systems for full access by approved users.

Some key points about how WOW will manage sensitive data:

  • WOW will follow State/Territory government agency policies/data management standards regarding restrictions of what can be published, and the resolution of denaturing location data. WOW will apply the applicable assigned category and data publishing restrictions to each species in each State/Territory.

  • For species not currently listed as sensitive (or confidential/restricted), users will be encouraged to liaise with the relevant State/Territory agency regarding the nomination process. WOW will update sensitive species lists regularly as guided by the agencies. Whilst nominations are being considered by State/Territory agencies, researchers and orchid enthusiasts can flag species to WOW for which the precautionary principle should be applied (i.e. locations denatured to a minimum 10 km) until the nomination is reviewed.

  • In addition to sensitive species, WOW will liaise with State/Territory agencies to identity other sensitive data. This may include sensitive locations (i.e. orchid reintroduction areas) where further data restrictions will be in place.

  • Depending on the species and the State/Territory where it was found, some records may not appear at all in public listing, whilst other species will appear but the location will be denatured so only the general location is shown (i.e. co-ordinates may be denatured to one decimal or approximately 10 km).

  • All registered users will have full access (i.e. not denatured) to their own records they supplied via the app.

  • Researchers and authorised data managers/users can apply for full access to the data as supplied (not denatured) following existing data access channels. WOW will list on the website contact details for the relevant State/Territory agencies.

  • Users contributing orchid location records and photographs, as well as the WOW admin team, will be able to flag photos not for public publication to protect content of the photos (i.e. private properties where the location can be determined from features in the photo, photos of people who have not given consent).

Last updated 12 June 2019.