, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 572-590
Date: 03 Jun 2008

Describing and Mapping Human-Induced Vegetation Change in the Australian Landscape

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Abstract

Australian reporting requirements for native vegetation require improved spatial and temporal information on the anthropogenic effects on vegetation. This includes better linkage of information on vegetation type (e.g., native vegetation association), extent and change, vegetation condition, or modification. The Vegetation Assets, States and Transitions (VAST) framework is presented as a means for ordering vegetation by degree of anthropogenic modification as a series of condition states, from a residual or base-line condition through to total removal. The VAST framework facilitates mapping and accounting for change and trends in the status and condition of vegetation. The framework makes clear the links between land management and vegetation condition states, provides a mechanism for describing the consequences of land management practices on vegetation condition, and contributes to an understanding of resilience. VAST is a simple communication and reporting tool designed to assist in describing and accounting for anthropogenic modification of vegetation. A benchmark is identified for each vegetation association. Benchmarks are based on structure, composition, and current regenerative capacity. This article describes the application of the VAST framework as a consistent national framework to translate and compile existing mapped information on the modification of native vegetation. We discuss the correspondence between these compiled VAST datasets at national and regional scales and describe their relevance for natural resource policy and planning.