Assessing land clearing using satellite technology

We analyse satellite images to help monitor compliance with Queensland’s vegetation management framework. Our method is a consistent and scientific way to identify vegetation change and potential non-compliant clearing.

While most clearing in Queensland falls within statutory exemptions, some clearing requires further investigation.

Comprehensive annual analysis allows the government to focus on the small percentage of clearing events that are non-compliant.

Find out more about your requirements to clear native vegetation.

How is non-compliant clearing identified?

There are a number of methods used by government to detect changes in vegetation.

Statewide Landcover and Trees Study

Each year, the government identifies changes in vegetation across Queensland through the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS).

Analysis of SLATS detects areas of clearing as small as a residential house block. Scientists then analyse these clearing events to determine if they comply with legislation.

Early Detection System

The Early Detection System (EDS) analyses satellite imagery on a regular basis to detect recent changes in regulated vegetation across the state.

EDS information is then cross-referenced with data about exemptions, current notifications and clearing approvals to help identify unexplained clearing of native vegetation.

This ability to rapidly identify and evaluate very recent changes in native vegetation enables a proactive response and early engagement with landholders, leading to a reduction in further clearing activities and impacts to native vegetation.

Read more about our monitoring and compliance activities for vegetation clearing.

High resolution imagery

Scientists may also use higher resolution images to help define the nature of clearing. These images are detailed enough to show individual trees and bulldozer tracks. This imagery also helps identify natural causes of unexplained clearing, such as cyclone damage.

Potential compliance breaches are then further investigated by authorised officers and any confirmed illegal activity will result in compliance action which may include prosecution.