A framework for evaluating regional natural resource management plans in tropical northern Australia is described which can help planners ensure that their plans consider the critical issues for regional sustainability in a comprehensive and effective way. The framework is presented in two parts. Part one identifies the criteria, plan components and rating scheme and how it may be applied to evaluating regional plans. Part two provides a detailed description of each of the regional planning criteria, a rationale for their selection and a set of application notes that indicates what needs to be considers when applying the criteria. The framework encompasses 24 planning-based criteria developed from five broad criteria areas: society, economy and institutions, biodiversity, soil and pasture health, catchment and river health, and carbon balance.