A long-term and ongoing initiative is spatially documenting South Australia's current and pre-European native vegetation.

Current vegetation is generally mapped in areas greater than 0.5 hectares across the landscape. Spatial comparison of current and pre-European vegetation can:

  • highlight the extent and selective nature of past clearance
  • identify vegetation types that are not well protected in reserves
  • illustrate the location and extent of communities of conservation significance.

There are also other benefits to mapping both present and past native vegetation, such as:

  • helping set biodiversity conservation goals and track changes in extent and composition of communities
  • helping guide restoration and revegetation programs
  • identifying where certain animals may be found based on their habitat requirements.

The data from on-ground sampling of vegetation, aerial photography and satellite imagery is studied together to provide an overall picture of the area being mapped. This is not an exact science. Aerial photography and satellite imagery can only successfully capture the overstorey vegetation species. The underlying vegetation species composition and condition may not be as easily identifiable. Also, it can be difficult to differentiate planted vegetation (which should not be mapped) from native vegetation. On-ground field inspections are required for absolute validation.

Native vegetation mapping gives a regional perspective and is useful as a landscape or catchment-scale planning tool. It still requires on-ground inspection before it is used for land management decision making.

Native vegetation maps can be updated when additional data, error corrections and new data analysis based on emerging technologies become available.

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native vegetation information mapping