The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

The extent and status of remnant vegetation in Queensland and its implications for statewide vegetation management and legislation

B. A. Wilson, V. J. Neldner and A. Accad

The Rangeland Journal 24(1) 6 - 35
Published: 15 June 2002


Vegetation classification, survey and mapping provide key information underpinning the implementation of statewide vegetation management legislation and associated policies in Queensland. This paper summarises: (i) the Queensland Herbarium survey and mapping methods and land classification system and its role in vegetation management legislation; and, (ii) the current extent and rate of vegetation clearing by bioregion, sub-region and Broad Vegetation Group; (iii) and the amount of vegetation protected under legislated statewide bioregional and regional ecosystem thresholds. Information also is provided on the pre-clearing and current extent by 18 Broad Vegetation Groups and the area of non-remnant woody vegetation by bioregion. The implications for vegetation management are discussed, along with a comparison of clearing statistics derived from other studies that use different classification and mapping methodologies.

The majority of Queensland has relatively continuous native vegetation cover (82% remnant native vegetation remaining in 1999). The productive soils of the southern part of the Brigalow Belt, lowlands in South-east Queensland, New England Tableland and Central Queensland Coast have been, however, extensively cleared with 7–30% of remnant vegetation remaining. Between 1997 and 1999, the annual rate of remnant clearing in Queensland was 4460 km2 of which over 60% occurred in the Brigalow Belt bioregion. A greater proportion of this recent clearing occurred in Broad Vegetation Groups that are associated with less fertile and/or more arid parts of the State compared with pre 1997 clearing.

For bioregions and regional ecosystems where past clearing has been extensive, a substantial proportion (50–91%) of the remaining vegetation is protected by bioregional and regional ecosystem thresholds prescribed under statewide legislation and associated policies. For other bioregions and regional ecosystems, other factors such as rainfall, soil and areas of high conservation value are likely to play a larger role in determining the amount of vegetation protected. However, the effectiveness of the Queensland legislation cannot be assessed until regional planning processes have been completed and all criteria addressed.

Keywords: biodiversity, biogeographic regions, clearing, regional ecosystems, vegetation survey and mapping, vegetation management legislation.

© ARS 2002

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