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Open AccessArticle

Remote Sensing Measures Restoration Successes, but Canopy Heights Lag in Restoring Floodplain Vegetation

School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052 NSW, Australia
Joint Remote Sensing Research Program, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072 QLD, Australia
Department of Geological Sciences and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Narrabri, 2390 NSW, Australia
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia
Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, 2601 ACT, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Javier Bustamante, Alfredo R. Huete, Patricia Kandus, Ricardo Díaz-Delgado, Magaly Koch and Prasad Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(7), 542;
Received: 26 February 2016 / Revised: 27 May 2016 / Accepted: 17 June 2016 / Published: 24 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue What can Remote Sensing Do for the Conservation of Wetlands?)
Wetlands worldwide are becoming increasingly degraded, and this has motivated many attempts to manage and restore wetland ecosystems. Restoration actions require a large resource investment, so it is critical to measure the outcomes of these management actions. We evaluated the restoration of floodplain wetland vegetation across a chronosequence of land uses, using remote sensing analyses. We compared the Landsat-based fractional cover of restoration areas with river red gum and lignum reference communities, which functioned as a fixed target for restoration, over three time periods: (i) before agricultural land use (1987–1997); (ii) during the peak of agricultural development (2004–2007); and (iii) post-restoration of flooding (2010–2015). We also developed LiDAR-derived canopy height models (CHMs) for comparison over the second and third time periods. Inundation was crucial for restoration, with many fields showing little sign of similarity to target vegetation until after inundation, even if agricultural land uses had ceased. Fields cleared or cultivated for only one year had greater restoration success compared to areas cultivated for three or more years. Canopy height increased most in the fields that were cleared and cultivated for a short duration, in contrast to those cultivated for >12 years, which showed few signs of recovery. Restoration was most successful in fields with a short development duration after the intervention, but resulting dense monotypic stands of river cooba require future monitoring and possibly intervention to prevent sustained dominance. Fields with intensive land use histories may need to be managed as alternative, drier flood-dependent vegetation communities, such as black box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) grasslands. Remotely-sensed data provided a powerful measurement technique for tracking restoration success over a large floodplain. View Full-Text
Keywords: land use; floods; environmental flows; cultivation; chronosequence; drought; fractional cover land use; floods; environmental flows; cultivation; chronosequence; drought; fractional cover
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Dawson, S.K.; Fisher, A.; Lucas, R.; Hutchinson, D.K.; Berney, P.; Keith, D.; Catford, J.A.; Kingsford, R.T. Remote Sensing Measures Restoration Successes, but Canopy Heights Lag in Restoring Floodplain Vegetation. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 542.

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