2.1. Selecting Case Study Sites to Represent Australia’s Agro-Climatic Regions
2.2. A Framework for Assessing Change
- 80%–100% of the reference state corresponds to a residual/unmodified state;
- 60%–80% corresponds to a modified state;
- 40%–60% corresponds to a transformed state;
- 20%–40% corresponds to VAST Class IV: replaced and adventive; as well as
- 0%–20% corresponds to VAST Class V: replaced and managed; and VAST Class VI: replaced.
4.1. Emergent Impacts at Multiple Scales
4.2. Major Drivers of Change
4.4. Changing Values and Attitudes
Conflicts of Interest
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|Condition Components 1||Key Functional, Structural and Composition Criteria||Indicators|
|Level 3||Level 2||Level 1|
|Functional||Soil hydrology||Rainfall infiltration and soil water holding capacity|
|Surface and subsurface flows|
|Soil physical status||Effective rooting depth of the soil profile|
|Bulk density of the soil through changes to soil structure or soil removal|
|Soil nutrient status||Nutrient stress: rundown (deficiency) relative to reference soil fertility|
|Nutrient stress: excess (toxicity) relative to reference soil fertility|
|Soil biological status||Organisms responsible for maintaining soil porosity and nutrient recycling|
|Surface organic matter, soil crusts|
|Natural disturbance regime||Area/size of disturbance events: foot prints (e.g., major storm cells, floods, wildfire, cyclones, droughts, ice)|
|Interval between disturbance events|
|Reproductive potential||Reproductive potential of overstorey structuring species|
|Reproductive potential of understorey structuring species|
|Structural||Overstorey structure||Overstorey top height (mean) of the plant community|
|Overstorey foliage projective cover (mean) of the plant community|
|Overstorey structural diversity (i.e., a diversity of age classes) of the stand|
|Understorey structure||Understorey top height (mean) of the plant community|
|Understorey ground cover (mean) of the plant community|
|Understorey structural diversity (i.e., a diversity of age classes) of the plant|
|Compositional||Overstorey composition||Densities of overstorey species functional groups|
|Richness: the number of indigenous overstorey species relative to the number of exotic species|
|Understorey composition||Densities of understorey species functional groups|
|Richness: the number of indigenous understorey species relative to the number of exotic species|
|1.||No active intervention that affects indicators of vegetation function, structure and composition|
|2.||Management practices that harvest vegetation products (biomass, fibre, flowers, fruit and nuts), which affect indicators of vegetation function, structure and composition|
|3.||Management practices that enhance or improve indicators of vegetation function, structure and composition|
|4.||Management practices that extirpate or remove indicators of the function, structure and composition|
|5.||Management practices that reconstruct or reinstate indicators of the function, structure and composition|
|Case Study||Agro-Climatic Zone and Reference Vegetation||Vegetation Condition Dynamics (Status Score Change Relative to Reference State)||Government Policies||Markets||Technological Changes||Climate Variation||Cultural|
|1||Cold-wet, alpine grassland||10% loss due to livestock grazing then recovery to near reference conditions||State government reduction, then prohibition of livestock grazing, then creation of a national park||Rapid development of national and international markets for meat and wool||Domestic livestock||Periods of drought that increased livestock grazing pressure on alpine grassland||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|2||Cold-wet, open forest||60% loss due to forest clearing, minor recovery by passive restoration||National and territory government-funded establishment of softwood plantations, then initiation of restoration of native vegetation for water catchment values||Domestic market for softwood for housing construction now influenced by softwood supply from New Zealand||Pinus radiata plantation system||Severe wildfire destroys pine plantation in 2003, linked to prolonged drought, as well as periods of above average rainfall that supported passive restoration (El-Nino-La Nina cycles)||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|3||Mediterranean, low (mallee) woodland||70% loss due to clearing, then significant recovery by active restoration||Various regulations that required clearing, then subsidies on fertiliser to increase intensification, more recently, agri-environment schemes to support farmers to restore native vegetation||Demand for timber for smelting of copper, then domestic and international demand for meat wool and grains||Mining technology, broad-scale cropping and exotic pasture systems, domestic livestock, fencing and feral rabbits||Periods of drought that hastened loss of vegetation condition, as well as periods of above average rainfall that supported restoration (El-Nino-La Nina cycles)||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|4||Temperate, sub-humid, grassy eucalypt woodland||70% loss due to clearing then partial recovery||Various regulations that required clearing, then subsidies on fertiliser to increase intensification, more recently, later agri-environment schemes to support farmers to restore native vegetation||Domestic and international demand for grains, meat and wool||Broad-scale cropping and exotic pasture systems, domestic livestock, fencing and feral rabbits; no till cropping into dormant native pasture with cell-based sheep grazing||Drought and wildfire were a stimulus for land management change coupled with localised rising ground water that was saline.||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|5||Sub-tropical subhumid, Acacia forest and woodland||60% loss due to clearing and introduction of exotic pasture grasses, weeds, then small-scale recovery by Acacia regrowth||Various regulations that required clearing by land owners||Domestic and international demand for grains, meat and wool||Broad-scale mechanical clearing, cropping and exotic pasture systems, domestic livestock and fencing||Unknown impact of climate variation||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|6||Sub-tropical moist, lowland rainforest||60% loss due to land clearing and conversion to exotic pastures, colonisation by a woody weed, then significant recovery due to active restoration||Various regulations that required clearing by land owners, then initiation of restoration of native vegetation for water catchment and local eco-tourism values||Domestic and international demand for sub-tropical timbers, then domestic demand for dairy products||Fencing for intensive dairy production, then development of the science and practice of ecological restoration||An area of less climatic variation than inland Australia||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|7||Tropical warm season wet, eucalypt open woodland||50% loss due to livestock and feral herbivore grazing with modest recovery due to improved grazing management and increasing woody cover due to climate change||Government-managed livestock reserve, and subsidies for artificial watering points and fencing, then R&D into improved range management||Domestic and particularly international demand, including live cattle exports||Artificial watering points (bores), then fencing to improve grazing management, improved roads and transport, introduction of Bos indicus breeds of cattle||Large seasonal fluctuations in rainfall affecting livestock and feral herbivore numbers, but overall increasing rainfall over a longer season||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices; a conditional land claim was granted in 1990, enabling continued use of the area as a research station|
|8||Tropical warm season moist, tussock grassland||20% loss due to loss of Indigenous fire regime that controlled woody cover||National park status declared in 1938, eventual removal of domestic and feral goat grazing pressure||Limited use by domestic livestock for local consumption||Aerial incendiaries applied, but with limited success in reducing woody cover||Limited impact of seasonal variations||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|9||Tropical wet, vine forest||60% loss due to land clearing, then moderate recovery by passive and active restoration||State government land development policies that promoted land clearing for dairy, but more recently, site declared a nature refuge, providing public and private benefits||Initially demand for high value tropical timbers, then domestic dairy production and subsequent collapse due to high costs||Introduction of exotic pasture grasses and dairy production system, including fertilizers and lime, then modest demand for ‘life-style’ blocks of land with new owners passionate about restoration||Very high annual rainfall accelerated soil erosion and fertility decline, though this rainfall also supported rapid ecological restoration||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
|10||Dry, eucalypt woodland||30% loss due to timber harvesting and livestock grazing, then modest recovery due to improve grazing management||Recently purchased by state government as a proposed conservation reserve||Global demand for minerals requiring timber for smelting, then demand for meat and wool||Smelting technologies requiring timber for fuel, fencing, artificial watering points, domestic livestock||Periods of drought requiring artificial sources of water for livestock (bores and troughs)||Total indigenous displacement by Western European values and land management practices|
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