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A system for tracking the resilience of
native vegetation on Defence lands
Richard Thackway
Institute of Australian Geogra...
Outline
• Why native vegetation extent and condition is important?
• Need for a systems approach for assessing vegetation ...
Why is
native
vegetation
extent and
condition
important?
State and
Commonwealth
Acts and
regulations
Need for a systems approach
• Assessments of the vegetation condition must treat all land tenures
equally, including DoD e...
Concepts and definitions
• Resilience = the capacity of an plant community to recover
toward a reference state following a...
What effects do DOD
management practices have
on the vegetation condition of
defence estates over time?
Defence Estate Qua...
Modification of sites and landscapes
Indigenous
land
management
First
explorers
Grazing
Degreeof
resilience/condition
Trac...
How do land managers modify structure, composition &
function (i.e. resilience) over time?
LMP that focus on soil
LMP that...
Common interventions designed to influence
structure, composition & function i.e. resilience
Various interventions:
Land m...
VAST = Vegetation Assets States and Transitions
VIVIVIIIIII0
Native vegetation
cover
Non-native vegetation
cover
Increasin...
Vegetation condition
Thackway & Lesslie (2008)
Environmental Management, 42, 572-90
NB: Input dataset biophysical naturaln...
Landscape Alteration Levels
Continental 2.5k Moving Window Radius
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Intact Variegated Fragm...
Which Defence estates to include?
Source: http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/reviews/adfposture/docs/base_map.pdf
Agro-climatic groups from:
Hutchinson et al. (2005) Global
Ecol. Biogeogr. 14,1-15
Coloured = Native vegetation, varying c...
Wide Bay
Training
Area
Greenbank
Training Area
Puckapunyal
Military Area
Salt Ash Air
Weapons
Range
Shoalwater
Bay
Trainin...
Agro-climatic regions Military Training Area Landscape Alteration Levels
(Regional scale)
Tropical warm-season moist Towns...
Wide Bay
Training
Area
Greenbank
Training Area
Puckapunyal
Military Area
Salt Ash Air
Weapons
Range
Shoalwater
Bay
Trainin...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA), Qld
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), Qld
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
M...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Wide Bay Training Area (WBTA), Qld
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Modified...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Canungra Field Training Area (CFTA), Qld
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Mo...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Greenbank Training Area (GBTA), Qld
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Modifie...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SaltAsh), NSW
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
M...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Puckapunyal Military Area (PMA), Vic
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Modifi...
Condition classes inside and surrounding
Stony Head Training Area (SHTA), Tas
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Modifi...
Naturally bare
Unmodified
Transformed
Modified
Removed & managed
Removed & replaced
Native
vegetation
Outside DoD area
Ins...
What effect do DOD management
practices have on native vegetation
condition within particular defence
estates over time?
Generate total indices for ‘transformation site’ for each year of the
historical record. Validate using Expert Knowledge
•...
Components
(3)
Criteria
(10)
Description of loss or gain relative to pre settlement indicator reference state
(22)Regenera...
1
3
10
22
Components
(3)
Vegetation
Transformation
Score
(1)
Criteria
(10)
Vegetation
Structure
(27%)
Overstorey
(3)
Under...
Case study using VAST-2
Belconnen Navy Transmitting Station
(Canberra)
or
The Lawson Commonwealth site (BE08b)
Source: http://www.defence.gov.au/news/navynews/editions/5001/topstories/story3.htm
Low-frequency towers
1939-2007
Approximate
year
Source:
Year
LU & LMP Source:
LU & LMP
Effects of land use and
management on criteria and
indicators of v...
Source: Google earth 2002
Photo: Sue McIntyre
Photo: Sue McIntyre
Photo: Sue McIntyre
Photo: Daily Telegraph
Belconnen Navy Transmitting Station (Canberra)
Contributions of DoD estates - looking forward
• Nationally areas that are dominated by native veg types are
increasingly ...
Tensions and trade-offs in landscape transformations
DoD
estates
What would DoD need to do to assess the
condition of native vegetation on all its estates?
• Systematically record, collec...
Assumptions
Changes in LU & LMP
– result in measurable and predictable changes in structure, floristics
& regen capacity
–...
Conclusions
• Analyses using national scale condition info shows the importance DoD
estates in more intensively managed an...
More info & Acknowledgements
More information
http://www.vasttransformations.com/
http://portal.tern.org.au/search
http://...
All is not what it seems
Military training exercise
Shoalwater Bay May 2015.
Damage to overstorey was
caused by Tropical C...
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A system for tracking the resilience of native vegetation on Defence lands

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Most defence training areas are minimally managed resulting in no obvious effects on the components of vegetation condition; structure, composition and function of plant communities. However deliberate and/or inadvertent management practices can result in changes in vegetation condition. Documenting the contemporary and previous land management practices and their observed effects over time and on the present-day indicators of vegetation condition gives land managers valuable insights for adaptive management. A consistent national system, Vegetation Assets States and Transitions (VAST–2), comprising standardized and benchmarked set of indicators may be used to assess the degree of transformation of the components of vegetation condition associated with management practices over time.

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A system for tracking the resilience of native vegetation on Defence lands

  1. 1. A system for tracking the resilience of native vegetation on Defence lands Richard Thackway Institute of Australian Geographers 2015 conference Military Geography Session Crawford School, ANU 1-3 July 2015
  2. 2. Outline • Why native vegetation extent and condition is important? • Need for a systems approach for assessing vegetation condition • Defence estate case studies at landscape and site levels – Vegetation condition inside & outside training areas – Transformation of a site over time • Lessons • Conclusions
  3. 3. Why is native vegetation extent and condition important? State and Commonwealth Acts and regulations
  4. 4. Need for a systems approach • Assessments of the vegetation condition must treat all land tenures equally, including DoD estates • DoD manages a diverse range of native vegetation types in varying degrees of condition • DoD is unable to quantify changes and trends in the vegetation extent & condition within its estate
  5. 5. Concepts and definitions • Resilience = the capacity of an plant community to recover toward a reference state following a change/s in land management • Change in condition of a plant community (type) is due to effects of land management practices on indicators of: – Vegetation structure – Species composition – Regenerative capacity • Transformation = changes in vegetation condition over time • Condition, resilience and transformation are assessed relative to a fully natural Reference state Vegetation condition (a composite index)
  6. 6. What effects do DOD management practices have on the vegetation condition of defence estates over time? Defence Estate Quality Management System (DEQMS) - Training Area Sustainability NB: Detailed policy guidance on landscape management issues such as soil erosion, biodiversity protection, heritage management, fire and biosecurity is to be found on the DEQMS Governance Policy page. Threatening processes such as overabundant species, ferals and weed management are also covered in the specific program areas
  7. 7. Modification of sites and landscapes Indigenous land management First explorers Grazing Degreeof resilience/condition Tracked vehicles Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Time Reference state Long term rainfall Long term disturbance e.g. wildfire, cyclones Revegetation Condition classes Weeds Ferals 2015 Fire
  8. 8. How do land managers modify structure, composition & function (i.e. resilience) over time? LMP that focus on soil LMP that focus on native vegetation Regenerative capacity/ function Vegetation structure & Species composition 1. Soil hydrological status 2. Soil physical status 3. Soil chemical status 4. Soil biological status 5. Fire regime 6. Reproductive potential 7. Overstorey structure 8. Understorey structure 9. Overstorey composition 10. Understorey composition LMP = Land Management Practices Focussing on 10 key criteria
  9. 9. Common interventions designed to influence structure, composition & function i.e. resilience Various interventions: Land management practices (LMP) are used to influence ecological building blocks at sites and landscapes by: • Modifying … • Removing and replacing … • Enhancing … • Restoring … • Maintaining … • Improving … Various purposes: Including trafficability, biodiversity conservation, water quality, minimize detection To achieve the desired mix of ecosystem services (space & time)
  10. 10. VAST = Vegetation Assets States and Transitions VIVIVIIIIII0 Native vegetation cover Non-native vegetation cover Increasing modification caused by use and management Transitions = trend Vegetation thresholds Reference for each veg type (NVIS) A framework for assessing modification of native vegetation condition Condition states Residual or unmodified Naturally bare Modified Transformed Replaced - Adventive Replaced - managed Replaced - removed Thackway & Lesslie (2008) Environmental Management, 42, 572-90 Diagnostic attributes of VAST (classes): • Vegetation structure • Species composition • Regenerative capacity Resilience threshold VAST-2 criteria and indicators Change & Trends
  11. 11. Vegetation condition Thackway & Lesslie (2008) Environmental Management, 42, 572-90 NB: Input dataset biophysical naturalness reclassified using VAST framework / replaced / unmodified
  12. 12. Landscape Alteration Levels Continental 2.5k Moving Window Radius 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Intact Variegated Fragmented Relictual Landscape Alteration Level AverageProportion(%)ofVASTConditionState Residual* Modified Transformed Managed Removed Condition classes
  13. 13. Which Defence estates to include? Source: http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/reviews/adfposture/docs/base_map.pdf
  14. 14. Agro-climatic groups from: Hutchinson et al. (2005) Global Ecol. Biogeogr. 14,1-15 Coloured = Native vegetation, varying condition (VAST 0 - I) Grid = Modified vegetation (VAST II-III) Open = Native vegetation replaced (VAST V – VI) Mediterranean Cold wet cc cc Tropical warm season wet Temperate cool season wet Temperate sub-humid Tropical wet Dry Tropical warm-season moist Sub-tropical sub-humid Sub-tropical moist Context of selected training areas
  15. 15. Wide Bay Training Area Greenbank Training Area Puckapunyal Military Area Salt Ash Air Weapons Range Shoalwater Bay Training Area Stony Head Training Area Townsville Field Training Area Canungra Field Training Area Landscape Alteration Levels – only a snapshot Condition States
  16. 16. Agro-climatic regions Military Training Area Landscape Alteration Levels (Regional scale) Tropical warm-season moist Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA) Intact / Variegated Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) Intact / Variegated Sub-tropical moist Canungra Field Training Area (CFTA) Variegated / Fragmented Greenbank Training Area (GBTA) Variegated / Fragmented Wide Bay Training Area (WBTA) Variegated / Fragmented Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SaltAsh) Variegated / Fragmented Temperate cool season wet Puckapunyal Military Area (PMA) Variegated / Fragmented Stony Head Training Area (SHTA) Variegated / Fragmented Dry - Cold wet - Mediterranean - Sub-tropical sub-humid - Tropical wet - Temperate sub-humid - Selected training areas landscape alteration context
  17. 17. Wide Bay Training Area Greenbank Training Area Puckapunyal Military Area Salt Ash Air Weapons Range Shoalwater Bay Training Area Stony Head Training Area Townsville Field Training Area Canungra Field Training Area Selected Defence estates and vegetation condition
  18. 18. Condition classes inside and surrounding Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA), Qld Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA) TFTA TFTA_buf Inside Outside
  19. 19. Condition classes inside and surrounding Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), Qld Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 20 40 60 80 100 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) SWBTA SWBTA_buf Inside Outside
  20. 20. Condition classes inside and surrounding Wide Bay Training Area (WBTA), Qld Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 20 40 60 80 100 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Wide Bay Training Area (WBTA) WBTA WBTA_buf Inside Outside
  21. 21. Condition classes inside and surrounding Canungra Field Training Area (CFTA), Qld Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Canungra Field Training Area (CFTA) CFTA CFTA_buf Inside Outside
  22. 22. Condition classes inside and surrounding Greenbank Training Area (GBTA), Qld Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Greenbank Training Area (GBTA) GBTA GBTA_buf Inside Outside
  23. 23. Condition classes inside and surrounding Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SaltAsh), NSW Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SaltAsh) SaltAsh SaltAsh_buf Inside Outside
  24. 24. Condition classes inside and surrounding Puckapunyal Military Area (PMA), Vic Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Puckapunyal Military Area (PMA) PMA PMA_buf Inside Outside
  25. 25. Condition classes inside and surrounding Stony Head Training Area (SHTA), Tas Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Condition classes inside and surrounding Stony Head Training Area (SHTA) SHTA SHTA_buf Inside Outside
  26. 26. Naturally bare Unmodified Transformed Modified Removed & managed Removed & replaced Native vegetation Outside DoD area Inside DoD area 0 1 2 3 5 6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 1 2 3 5 6 Relativearea(percent) Condition classes Average condition classes inside and surrounding the eight military training areas Average inside Military areas Average outside buffer Inside Outside Average condition classes inside and outside the 8 DoD estates
  27. 27. What effect do DOD management practices have on native vegetation condition within particular defence estates over time?
  28. 28. Generate total indices for ‘transformation site’ for each year of the historical record. Validate using Expert Knowledge • Compile and collate effects of land management on criteria (10) and indicators (22) over time. • Evaluate impacts on the plant community over time Transformation site • Compile and collate effects of land management on criteria (10) and indicators (22) Reference state/sites Score all 22 indicators for ‘transformation site’ relative to the ‘reference site’. 0 = major change; 1 = no change Derive weighted indices for the ‘transformation site’ i.e. regenerative capacity (55%), vegetation structure (27%) and species composition (18%) by adding predefined indicators General process for tracking change over time
  29. 29. Components (3) Criteria (10) Description of loss or gain relative to pre settlement indicator reference state (22)Regenerativecapacity Fire regime Change in the area /size of fire foot prints Change in the number of fire starts Soil hydrology Change in the soil surface water availability Change in the ground water availability Soil physical state Change in the depth of the A horizon Change in soil structure. Soil nutrient state Nutrient stress – rundown (deficiency) relative to soil fertility Nutrient stress – excess (toxicity) relative to soil fertility Soil biological state Change in the recyclers responsible for maintaining soil porosity and nutrient recycling Change in surface organic matter, soil crusts Reproductive potential Change in the reproductive potential of overstorey structuring species Change in the reproductive potential of understorey structuring species Vegetationstructure Overstorey structure Change in the overstorey top height (mean) of the plant community Change in the overstorey foliage projective cover (mean) of the plant community Change in the overstorey structural diversity (i.e. a diversity of age classes) of the stand Understorey structure Change in the understorey top height (mean) of the plant community Change in the understorey ground cover (mean) of the plant community Change in the understorey structural diversity (i.e. a diversity of age classes) of the plant Species Composition Overstorey composition Change in the densities of overstorey species functional groups Change in no.s of indigenous overstorey species relative to the number of exotic species Understorey composition Change in the densities of understorey species functional groups Change in no.s of indigenous understorey species relative to the number of exotic species
  30. 30. 1 3 10 22 Components (3) Vegetation Transformation Score (1) Criteria (10) Vegetation Structure (27%) Overstorey (3) Understorey (3) Species Composition (18%) (2) UnderstoreyOverstorey (2) Regenerative Capacity (55%) Fire (2) Reprod potent (2) Soil Hydrology (2) Biology (2) Nutrients (2) Structure (2) Indicators (22) VAST-2 – benchmark scoring of the effects of use and management of native veg (indicators) over time
  31. 31. Case study using VAST-2 Belconnen Navy Transmitting Station (Canberra) or The Lawson Commonwealth site (BE08b)
  32. 32. Source: http://www.defence.gov.au/news/navynews/editions/5001/topstories/story3.htm Low-frequency towers 1939-2007
  33. 33. Approximate year Source: Year LU & LMP Source: LU & LMP Effects of land use and management on criteria and indicators of vegetation condition Source: Effects 1800 1840 2015 Establish a chronology of data and information of causes and effects /observed & measured responses Pre-contact First contact Current year LU = Land Use, LMP = Land Management Practices NB: Accuracy of each observation and measurement is important
  34. 34. Source: Google earth 2002
  35. 35. Photo: Sue McIntyre
  36. 36. Photo: Sue McIntyre
  37. 37. Photo: Sue McIntyre
  38. 38. Photo: Daily Telegraph
  39. 39. Belconnen Navy Transmitting Station (Canberra)
  40. 40. Contributions of DoD estates - looking forward • Nationally areas that are dominated by native veg types are increasingly being managed to build resilience • Knowing what contribution DoD estates make to Australia’s native veg account is vital • DoD estates are a distinct and important land use which contributes e.g. – Habitats for key threatened species and communities – Major stepping stones for landscape connectivity – Provision of ecosystem services incl. biodiversity, soil, water and carbon sequestration
  41. 41. Tensions and trade-offs in landscape transformations DoD estates
  42. 42. What would DoD need to do to assess the condition of native vegetation on all its estates? • Systematically record, collect and compile land management practices • Develop a capacity to assess resultant changes & trends in key veg /ecological attributes i.e. – Structure, composition and function of the native vegetation • Implement a system to track outcomes of adaptive management on key veg /ecological attributes
  43. 43. Assumptions Changes in LU & LMP – result in measurable and predictable changes in structure, floristics & regen capacity – can be consistently and reliably differentiated from natural events – have or can be adequately and reliably documented over time Sequential responses in veg structure, floristics & regen capacity can be discovered, unpacked and scored over time Ratings and weightings are ecologically meaningful Data – information – Decision making i.e. fit for purpose
  44. 44. Conclusions • Analyses using national scale condition info shows the importance DoD estates in more intensively managed and developed landscapes – DoD estates are obviously less modified and less fragmented • DoD lacks the capacity to regularly assess/report vegetation condition within its estates : change and trend • The lack of this data/info would hinder DoD in: – preparing development applications and gaining approvals re infrastructure proposals – Demonstrating the actual impacts of training activities over time • Tracking effects of land management practices on key indicators would provide evidence for improving adaptive management – at site and landscape scales
  45. 45. More info & Acknowledgements More information http://www.vasttransformations.com/ http://portal.tern.org.au/search http://aceas-data.science.uq.edu.au/portal/ Acknowledgements • University of Queensland, Department of Geography Planning and Environmental Management for ongoing research support • Many public and private land managers, land management agencies, consultants and researchers have assisted in the development of VAST & VAST-2 • Fred Ford assisted with providing access to spatial data on the DoD estate
  46. 46. All is not what it seems Military training exercise Shoalwater Bay May 2015. Damage to overstorey was caused by Tropical Cyclone Marcia in February 2015.

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