Characterising the Environmental Values of the National Defence Estate, with Emphasis on Native Vegetation
The Australian Defence estate includes extensive training areas where the native vegetation is in good condition. This contrasts to many landscapes in eastern and southern Australia, which have been transformed for cropping and improved pasture, plantation forestry and urban development. We present a national characterisation of Australia’s Defence estate by intersecting the extents of Defence facilities with several national vegetation datasets that describe the type, extent and condition of native vegetation. Those results show that compared to neighbouring landscapes, Defence training areas are landscapes that have been, and are, generally minimally modified from a fully-natural reference state.
We discuss how the past management of Defence estates has generally maintained the extent and condition of native vegetation. The increasing conservation value of vegetation under Defence management suggests there is a requirement to strategically assess how and where the Defence-managed estate contributes to regional conservation goals. Any proposals for managing the Defence estate must continuously be balanced against the primary purpose of the land to support Defence capability.
KeywordsDefence estate Estate management Environmental values Ecological communities Defence training areas Native vegetation
We acknowledge the support given by Lucy Randall in providing access to the vegetation, land use and agro-climate datasets. Stuart Pearson commented on an earlier draft.
The views expressed are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Department of Defence. The Commonwealth of Australia will not be legally responsible in contract, tort or otherwise, for any statement made in this paper.
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