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Tracking change in land use and vegetation condition

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Seminar 'Tracking change in land use and vegetation condition' presented to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra on 22 February 2013.

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Tracking change in land use and vegetation condition

  1. 1. Tracking change in land use andvegetation conditionRichard ThackwayPresentation to Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra22 May 2013
  2. 2. Outline• Concepts and definitions• Current status of national data and information• VAST-2 methodology• Case studies• Lessons• Where to from here?• More information
  3. 3. Regulation ofhydrologicalregimeGeneration offood and fibreRegulation ofclimate / microclimateGeneration ofraw materialsRecyclingoforganic matterCreating and regulatinghabitatsControllingreproductionand dispersalChanging ecological function to derive multiple benefits (ecosystem services)
  4. 4. Models of ecosystem change i.e. cause & effectSource: Adamson and Fox (1982)TimeChangeinvegetationindicatorSettlement10000Reference
  5. 5. OccupationRelaxationAnthropogenic changeNet impactTime1800 1850 1900 1950 2000Based on Hamilton, Brown & Nolan 2008. FWPA PRO7.1050. pg 18Land use impacts on biodiversity and Life Cycle AnalysisReferenceModels of ecosystem change i.e. cause & effectChangeinvegetationindicator
  6. 6. The big questions for tracking changeIFland management practices are the CAUSE of observed andmeasured EFFECTS* i.e. changes in veg condition over timeTHEN• How can we make sense over time of– Land use change?– The plethora and diversity of LMPs?– The effects of these LMP on veg?* Noting interactions with climatic drivers i.e. natural dynamics
  7. 7. Present land use type & extentSource: DAFF 2008
  8. 8. Present land useSource: DAFF 20081. Dryland livestock grazing (58%)2. Minimal use (15%)3. Other protected areas including indigenous use (13%)4. Nature conservation (6.9%)5. Dryland agriculture (3.1%)6. Timber production (2.0%)7. Water (1.8%)8. Irrigated agriculture (0.4%)9. Intensive uses (0.3%)
  9. 9. Regional changes in land use over timeSource: ABARES 2010• Mainly intensification of agricultural production• Some conversion to conservation and minimal use
  10. 10. Present land use1. Dryland livestock grazing (58%)2. Minimal use (15%)3. Other protected areas including indigenous use (13%)4. Nature conservation (6.9%)5. Dryland agriculture (3.1%)6. Timber production (2.0%)7. Water (1.8%)8. Irrigated agriculture (0.4%)9. Intensive uses (0.3%)Source: DAFF 2008These 5 land uses utilise native veg ~90%of area of Australia – BUT what are theireffects on native vegetation condition?
  11. 11. Present vegetation type & extentSource: DAFF 2008
  12. 12. Present vegetation1. Shrublands and heathlands (37%)2. Grasslands & minimally modified pastures (33%)3. Forests and woodlands (19%)4. Annual crops and highly modified pastures (9%)5. Other non-native vegetation (1.7%)6. Plantations (0.2%) and7. Horticultural trees and shrubs (0.1%).Source: DAFF 2008
  13. 13. Present vegetation1. Shrublands and heathlands (37%)2. Grasslands & minimally modified pastures (34%)3. Forests and woodlands (19%)4. Annual crops and highly modified pastures (8%)5. Plantations (0.2%) and6. Horticultural trees and shrubs (0.1%).Source: DAFF 2008These 3 native veg types cover ~90% ofarea of Australia – BUT how can we assesschange and trend in condition?
  14. 14. Snapshots of gross change in extent of nativeveg typesPre-EuropeanPresent orextantMVG and NVISSource: SEWPACConversion from native to non-native and non-vegetated dueto land use change
  15. 15. Reporting changein condition usingVeg type(NVIS/MVG)Pre-European andPresent vegetationSource: ABARES 2013Veg typeNaracoorteCoastal PlainbioregionNVIS: National Vegetation Information SystemMVG: Major Vegetation GroupsRegion: Naracoorte Coastal Plain
  16. 16. Drivers for information on changes invegetation condition?Public and private interests• NRM & Forest policy and program design e.g. biodiversity andsustainability• Assessing resource condition e.g. degradation and resilence• Monitoring and reporting and improvement e.g. SoE & SOFR,environmental accountingWider community interests• Educators, researchers, students …
  17. 17. What is condition and transformation?• Change in a plant community (type) due to effects of landmanagement practices:– Structure– Composition– Regenerative capacity• Transformation = changes to vegetation condition over time• Condition and transformation can be assessed relative to fullynatural a reference stateVegetation condition
  18. 18. Vegetation Assets States and Transitions (VAST) frameworkVIVIVIIIIII0Native vegetationcoverNon-native vegetationcoverIncreasing modification caused by use and managementTransitions = trendVegetationthresholdsReference foreach veg type(NVIS)VAST - A framework for compiling & reportingvegetation conditionCondition statesResidual orunmodifiedNaturallybareModified Transformed Replaced -AdventiveReplaced -managedReplaced -removedThackway & Lesslie (2008) EnvironmentalManagement, 42, 572-90Diagnostic attributes of VAST states:• Vegetation structure• Species composition• Regenerative capacityNVIS
  19. 19. Vegetation condition – a snapshotThackway & Lesslie (2008)Environmental Management, 42, 572-90NB: Input dataset biophysical naturalness reclassified usingVAST framework/ replaced/ unmodified
  20. 20. Reportingchange inconditionusing vegtype(NVIS/MVG),andvegetationcondition(VAST)Source: ABARES 2013Veg typeVeg typeNVIS: National Vegetation Information SystemMVG: Major Vegetation Groups
  21. 21. The big questions for tracking changeIFland management practices are the CAUSE of observed andmeasured EFFECTS* i.e. changes in veg condition over timeTHEN• How can we make sense over time of– Land use change?– The plethora and diversity of LMPs?– The effects of these LMP on veg?* Noting interactions with climatic drivers i.e. natural dynamics
  22. 22. VAST framework = Effects• VAST classifies and orders the magnitude and intensity of LMP• VAST gives clues re how to classify targets for action into core set ofvegetation condition indicators that affected by LMPsLUMIS framework = Cause• LUMIS classifies all LMP into focal themes:– Vegetation/plants, soil, landform, water, animal, air• LUMIS classifies all vegetation-related LMPs into five objectives:1. Establish and rehabilitate2. Improve and maintain growth and condition3. Harvest plant products and remove waste and weeds4. Monitor health, vitality and condition5. No activity or interventionsLinks between VAST and LUMISLUMIS = Land Use and Management Information System
  23. 23. TARGET ofactionPurpose of ACTIVITYeg. establish, maintain, remove,protect, monitorManagement PRACTICE categorySpecific ACTION by managerMETHOD used to undertake the activityeg. select, control, handle, legislate, sampleBusiness,InfrastructureVegetation/plants, animals,soil, water, airLevel 5Level 4Level 3Level 2Level 1Source: ACLUMP ABARES (Land Use and Information Management System (LUMIS) 2010Making sense of land management practices
  24. 24. Focus on what the land manager is doingthat effect veg conditionTARGET of action1. Soil hydrological status2. Soil physical status3. Soil chemical status4. Soil biological status5. Fire regime6. Reproductive potential7. Overstorey structure8. Understorey structure9. Overstorey composition10. Understorey compositionSoilVegetationLUMISPURPOSE of activity is to
  25. 25. Focus on what the land manager is doingSoilVegetationRegenerative capacity/function / processes - VASTVegetation structure &Species composition - VAST1. Soil hydrological status2. Soil physical status3. Soil chemical status4. Soil biological status5. Fire regime6. Reproductive potential7. Overstorey structure8. Understorey structure9. Overstorey composition10. Understorey compositionLUMISPURPOSE of activity is to
  26. 26. Define goal/target orpurposeDo itAssess thesituation andcontextRecognise anopportunity /problemChoose amethod/practiceChange andtrend are notacceptableDirection ofchange andtrend isacceptableSources ofinformationCitizen scienceMaking sense of land manager activities
  27. 27. OccupationRelaxationAnthropogenic changeNet impactTime1800 1850 1900 1950 2000Based on Hamilton, Brown & Nolan 2008. FWPA PRO7.1050. pg 18Land use impacts on biodiversity and Life Cycle AnalysisReferenceModels of ecosystem change i.e. cause & effectChangeinvegetationindicator
  28. 28. Aim of VAST-2IndigenouslandmanagementFirstexplorersGrazingDegreeofmodificationLoggingCroppingSite 1Site 2Site 3TimeReference stateLongtermrainfallLong termdisturbancee.g. wildfire,cyclonesRevegetationVASTclassesCell /pulse grazing
  29. 29. VAST-2 SystemTracking change in vegetation condition
  30. 30. Conditioncomponents (3)[VAST]Attribute groups(10)[LUMIS]Description of loss or gain relative to pre settlement indicator reference state(22)RegenerativecapacityFire regime Area /size of fire foot printsNumber of fire startsSoil hydrology Soil surface water availabilityGround water availabilitySoil physicalstateDepth of the A horizonSoil structureSoil nutrientstateNutrient stress – rundown (deficiency) relative to soil fertilityNutrient stress – excess (toxicity) relative to soil fertilitySoil biologicalstateRecyclers responsible for maintaining soil porosity and nutrient recyclingSurface organic matter, soil crustsReproductivepotentialReproductive potential of overstorey structuring speciesReproductive potential of understorey structuring speciesVegetationstructureOverstoreystructureOverstorey top height (mean) of the plant communityOverstorey foliage projective cover (mean) of the plant communityOverstorey structural diversity (i.e. a diversity of age classes) of the standUnderstoreystructureUnderstorey top height (mean) of the plant communityUnderstorey ground cover (mean) of the plant communityUnderstorey structural diversity (i.e. a diversity of age classes) of the plantSpeciesCompositionOverstoreycompositionDensities of overstorey species functional groupsRelative number of overstorey species (richness) of indigenous to exotic speciesUnderstoreycompositionDensities of understorey species functional groupsRelative number of understorey species (richness) of indigenous to exotic species
  31. 31. 131022DiagnosticattributesVegetationTransformationscoreAttributegroupsVegetationStructure(27%)Overstorey(3)Understorey(3)SpeciesComposition(18%)(2)UnderstoreyOverstorey(2)RegenerativeCapacity(55%)Fire(2)Reprodpotent(2)SoilHydrology(2)Biology(2)Nutrients(2)Structure(2) IndicatorsVAST-2 hierarchy
  32. 32. Step 7Add the indices for the three components to generate total transformationindex for the ‘transformation site’ for each year of the historical record .Validate using Expert KnowledgeStep 1aUse a checklist of 22 indicators to compilechanges in LU & LMP* and plantcommunity responses over timeTransformation siteStep 1cEvaluate impacts on the plant communityover timeStep 1bEvaluate the influence of climate, soil andlandform on the historical recordStep 2Document responses of 22indicators over timeStep 4Document the referencestates for 22 indicatorsStep 3aLiterature review to determine thebaseline conditions for 22 indicatorsStep 3cCompile indicator data for 22indicators for reference siteStep 3bEvaluate the influence of climate, soiland landform for the reference siteReference state/sitesStep 5Score all 22 indicators for ‘transformation site’ relative to the‘reference site’. 0 = major change; 1 = no changeStep 6Derive weighted indices for the three components for the ‘transformationsite’ i.e. regenerative capacity (58%), vegetation structure (27%) andspecies composition (18%) by adding predefined indicatorsGeneral process for tracking changesVAST-2 system* LU Land useLMP Land management practices
  33. 33. • Network of collaborators• Ecologists, academics, land managers, environmental historians,educators• Inputs• Reference state• Land use• Land management practices• Natural events e.g. droughts, fires, floods, cyclones, average rainfall1900-2013 etc• Observed interactions e.g. rabbits, sheep and drought• Observations and quantitative measures of effects of managementpractices:• Include written, oral, artistic, photographic, survey plots and remote sensingResources needed to compile and analysean historical record for each site
  34. 34. Importance of dynamicsRainfall assumed to be main driver of system dynamics• Period 1900 - 2013• Average seasonal rainfall (summer, autumn, …)• Rainfall anomaly is calculated above and below the mean• Two year running trend line fitted
  35. 35. WA WheatbeltBOM rainfallanomaly1900-2010(modelled 5 kmresolution)Derived frommonthlymodelledrainfall dataobtained fromhttp://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/silo/Rainfallanomalyrelative tomean
  36. 36. Method: VAST-2LU = Land Use, LMP = Land Management PracticesEffects on indicators of VASTdiagnostic attributesTimeCause
  37. 37. Filling in the gaps in effects at the site levelQuadrat or pixelLand unitLand systemSub-bioregionBioregionCertaintylevelsCoarseFineLowLowMediumMediumHighSources ofinformationGranularity ofinformation
  38. 38. Certainty level standards used tocompile historic recordCertaintylevelstandardsSpatial precision(Scale)Temporal precision(Year of observation)Attribute accuracy(Land use, landmanagement practices,effects on condition)HIGH"Definite”Reliable directquantitative data.Code: 1Reliable directquantitative data.Code: 4Reliable directquantitative data.Code: 7MEDIUM"Probable"Direct (withqualifications) or strongindirect data.Code: 2Direct (withqualifications) or strongindirect data.Code: 5Direct (withqualifications) or strongindirect data.Code: 8LOW"Possible"Limited qualitative andpossibly contradictoryobservations. Moredata needed.Code: 3Limited qualitative andpossibly contradictoryobservations. Moredata needed.Code: 6Limited qualitative andpossibly contradictoryobservations. Moredata needed.Code: 9
  39. 39. Year SourceYear andreliabilityLU & LMP Source:LU & LMPReliabilityof LMPsources andspatialaccuracyEffects of use and landmanagement practices onstructure, compositionand functionSourceEffectsReliabilityof effectsand spatialaccuracy180018402013Pre-contactFirst contactCurrent yearLU = Land Use, LMP = Land Management PracticesResults: VAST-2 historical record
  40. 40. Case studies VAST-2
  41. 41. Case studies 1 and 2• Region:Credo Station, Great Western Woodlands (GWW), WA• Reference state:Salmon Gum woodland overstorey , saltbush andbluebush understorey and ground layer
  42. 42. Photo: Harry RecherSalmon Gum reference state
  43. 43. Case studies 3 and 4Region:Taroom Shire, Brigalow Belt South, QldReference state:Brigalow woodland overstorey , mixed openshrubland understorey , grassy and forb ground layer
  44. 44. Photo: Griffith UniversityBrigalow woodland reference state
  45. 45. Potters Flat, Taroom Shire, Qld
  46. 46. Wanaringa, Taroom Shire, Qld
  47. 47. VAST/VAST-2 is a useful tool for:• Understanding and reporting the effects of agricultural andforest management practices on native vegetation• Evaluating a site’s potential to be restored under differentsocial-ecological conditions e.g. 20% forest canopy cover• Assisting land managers understand relationships between:– natural dynamic cycles, degrees of disturbance/change, managementinterventions and changes in ecological function that underpinecosystem services
  48. 48. Potential effects of land use change andmanagement at paired sitesObserved / measuredchange due to landmanagementObserved / measuredchange due to othercauses including naturalprocessesVAST-2transformationindex100806040200time now time n +Production forestry continues unchangedChange from production forestry to conservationReference
  49. 49. Where to next?• More sites• Scaling up to the landscape scale• Modelling the transformation of landscapes– Historical– Current– Future
  50. 50. Sources of information to populate indicatorsView 3D imageryPotential to derive information on treeheights, tree crown size and depth,strata, regeneration
  51. 51. Scaling up from sites to landscape levelsStatic layers•first contact by European explorers•slope & relief derived from 30m DEM•aspect classes derived from 30m DEM•weathering layer•digital atlas of soils+•pre-European vegetation types (NVIS)Time series response variables•rainfall anomaly (post 1900)•state-wide & national land tenure•Remote sensing (FPC, fire, bare ground)*•native veg (tree) layers*•state-wide & national land use• sheep DSE• cattle DSE• cropping• urban areas• Plantations• nature conservation reserves• indigenous protected areas•Infrastructure• railways• roads•fire regime (fire area & No. fire starts)*•otherTERN AusCover*TERN Soils+
  52. 52. Conclusions• Vegetation condition is dynamic and can be tracked• Plant communities are not static nor irreparable• Vegetated landscapes can be altered, maintained in a modifiedstate, restored ... as management preferences change• As a national system VAST-2 has value for:– Engaging land managers as citizen scientists– Synthesizing information (quantitative and qualitative)– Examining interactions between natural dynamics /disturbance andland management– ‘Telling the story’ of vegetation condition and transformation
  53. 53. More informationhttp://www.vasttransformations.com/Acknowledgements• University of Queensland, Department of Geography Planning and EnvironmentalManagement for ongoing research support• TERN ACEAS funded my sabbatical fellowship at the University of Queensland,Brisbane in 2010-11• CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences for hosting me as a visiting research scientist, Canberrain 2010-11• Many public and private land managers, land management agencies, consultantsand researchers have provided data and information

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