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Remnant regional ecosystem vegetation in Queensland

This report presents bioregion and subregion analysis of remnant vegetation extent of regional ecosystems in Queensland for the period 1997-2017 and replaces Accad et al., (2017).

The report provides statistics on the extent of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation for the entire state of Queensland and extends the reporting period to include 2015-2017. The report is based on the detailed regional ecosystem survey and mapping Version 11.0 Regional Ecosystems (2018) and Version 5.0 Bioregions and subregions of Queensland (Figure 1), which are available on the Queensland Globe.

The report presents bioregional and subregional analysis of the extent of Queensland’s regional ecosystems pre-clearing and as remnant vegetation from 1997 to 2017. The analysis includes the extent of clearing of remnant vegetation for individual regional ecosystems by tenure and several other themes. The rate of remnant vegetation clearing is also documented as hectares per year.

The report provides essential regional ecosystem extent information and consolidated maps to support state and local government, natural resource management organisations, business and landholders in vegetation management, planning and development.

Bioregion and subregion analysis of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation 1997-2017

Map showing area analysed for regional ecosystem statistics by subregion.

Figure 1. Area analysed for regional ecosystem statistics by bioregion and subregion.

Remnant regional ecosystem vegetation analysis by bioregion and subregion 2015-2017

The average annual rate of clearing of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation in Queensland between 2015 and 2017 was 108,322 hectares per year (Figure 2) and occurred in the:

  • Brigalow Belt bioregion (30.2% of clearing in Queensland) largely within Belyando Downs, Southern Downs, Marlborough Plains, Isaac - Comet Downs, Carnarvon Ranges, Banana - Auburn Ranges subregions;
  • Mulga Lands bioregion (27.3% of clearing in Queensland) largely within Urisino Sandplains,  West Warrego, North Eastern Plains, Eastern Mulga Plains and Nebine Plains  subregions;
  • Gulf Plains bioregion (14.9%) largely within Mitchell - Gilbert Fans, Holroyd Plain - Red Plateau and Donors Plateau subregions;
  • Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion (9.9%) largely within the Southern Wooded Downs, Southwestern Downs, Flinders and Central Downs subregions;
  • Desert Uplands bioregion (9.1%) largely within Jericho, Prairie - Torrens Creeks Alluvials and Alice Tableland subregions;
  • Einasleigh Uplands (3.1%) largely within Hodgkinson Basin and Broken River subregions.
  • Cape York Peninsula bioregion (2.1%) largely within Weipa Plateau subregion;
  • Southeast Queensland bioregion (1.5%) largely within Burnett - Curtis Hills and Ranges and Moreton Basin  subregions;
  • Central Queensland Coast, New England Tableland, Channel Country and,  Northwest Highlands, bioregions each recorded less than 1% of the clearing of remnant vegetation in Queensland (see Figure 3).

In 2015–2017, (49%) remnant regional ecosystem clearing occurred on freehold tenure, with 47.2% on leasehold tenures, and 3.8% on other tenures.

Average annual clearing rate of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation 1997-2017

Graph showing the average annual clearing rates for remnant regional ecosystem vegetation

Figure 2. The average annual clearing rates for remnant regional ecosystem vegetation from 1997 to 2017. The clearing rate of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation and regional ecosystems in the 2015-2017 period was 108,322 hectares per year.

Map showing the average annual clearing rate of remnant vegetation as a percentage of the starting year by subregion.

Figure 3. Average annual clearing rate of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation as a percentage of the starting year by subregion (view larger version).

Remnant regional ecosystem vegetation in 2015 as a percentage of the pre-clearing extent by subregion.

Figure 4. Remnant regional ecosystem vegetation in 2017 as a percentage of the pre-clearing extent by subregion.

Bioregion and subregion analysis of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation shows that the New England Tableland bioregion has the lowest extent of remnant vegetation of Queensland’s bioregions (36.24%). The Brigalow Belt bioregion has the second lowest remnant extent (41.2%) and includes the Tara Downs and Taroom Downs subregions which have the lowest subregional remnant extent in Queensland, with 6.0% and 6.8% respectively (Figure 4). The remnant regional ecosystem vegetation analysis MS Excel zip file is available from the download section below.

Regional ecosystem analysis by vegetation community

Figure 5. The regional ecosystems with the highest rate of clearing during the 2015-2017 is the Mulga Lands regional ecosystem 6.5.15 (photographer Teresa Eyre).

Figure 6. The regional ecosystems with the second highest rate of clearing during the 2015-2017 is the Mulga Lands regional ecosystem 6.7.12 (photographer Teresa Eyre).

The regional ecosystems with the most remnant vegetation cleared during the years 2015 to 2017 were regional ecosystem 6.5.15, Acacia aneura, Eucalyptus populnea +/- Eremophila sturtii tall open shrubland on sand plains (Figure 5) with 8,001 ha cleared, and regional ecosystem 6.7.12, Acacia aneura +/- Eucalyptus populnea +/- E. melanophloia +/- Eremophila gilesii subsp. gilesii tall shrubland on residuals (Figure 5) (Figure 6) with 6,872 ha cleared. The regional ecosystem analysis MS Excel zip file is available from the download section below.

The clearing of remnant vegetation during 2015-2017 mainly occurred in the following broad vegetation groups (BVG 1:5M):

  • Eucalypt dry woodlands on inland depositional plains (BVG 5)  50,282 ha
  • Acacia aneura (mulga) dominated open-forests, woodlands and shrublands (BVG 9)  46,523 ha
  • Eucalypt open forests to woodlands on floodplains (BVG 4)  35,744 ha
  • Other acacia dominated open-forests, woodlands and shrublands (BVG 10) 32,878 ha
  • Eastern eucalypt woodlands to open-forests (BVG 3)  31,251 ha
  • Eucalypt open forests to woodlands on floodplains (BVG 4)  25,543 ha
  • Tussock grasslands, forblands (BVG 13)  14,550 ha
  • Mixed species woodlands – open woodlands, includes wooded downs (BVG 11) 7,827 ha.

Analysis by other themes

The clearing of remnant vegetation during 2015-2017 (on percent basis) mainly occurred in the following:

  • Catchments: Belyando River (12% of the total remnant clearing in Queensland), Warrego river (12%), Paroo River (7%), Barcoo river (6%), Cloncurry River (6%), Lower Norman river (5%), Thomson river (4%), Bulloo River (4%) and Upper Gilbert river (4%).
  • Natural Resource Management Areas (NRM): South West NRM (27% of the total remnant clearing in Queensland), Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM (19%), Desert Channels Queensland (14%),  Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (13%), Southern Gulf Catchments (8%) Fitzroy Basin Association (7%), and Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (6%) .
  • Local Government Areas (LGA): Isaac Regional (13% of the total remnant clearing in Queensland), Murweh Shire (12%), Etheridge Shire (11%), Barcaldine Regional (9%), Clonurry Shire (6%), Quilpie Shire (6%), Bulloo Shire (5%) and Blackall Tambo Regional (5
  • Queensland Electoral districts: Warrego (33% of the total remnant clearing in Queensland), Traeger (22%), Gregory (18%) and Burdekin (14%).

Maps and statistical data for each of the above are available from the download section below.

Download tables and maps

NB: This report provides analyses of remnant regional ecosystems vegetation for the entire state.

Citation

Information contained on this report and available for download should be cited as:

Accad, A., Neldner, V.J., Kelley, J.A.R., Li, J. and Richter, D. (2018). Remnant Regional Ecosystem Vegetation in Queensland, Analysis 1997-2017. Queensland Department of Environment and Science: Brisbane.

Appendix

Remnant vegetation includes both woody and non-woody vegetation as defined below.

Woody remnant regional ecosystems vegetation

Woody vegetation is mapped as remnant where the dominant canopy has greater than 70% of the height and greater than 50% of the cover relative to the undisturbed height and cover of that stratum and is dominated by species characteristic of the vegetation's undisturbed canopy.

An undisturbed stratum (or layer) is defined as one that shows no evidence of extensive mechanical or chemical disturbance (logging, clearing, poisoning, etc.) evident in field inspections or on the available historical aerial photographic record.

The Methodology for Survey and Mapping of Regional Ecosystems and Vegetation Communities in Queensland provides an assessment sequence for mapping vegetation cover (Figure 7).

Non-woody remnant vegetation

Non-woody vegetation is vegetation in which the ecologically dominant stratum is composed of grasses and /or other non-woody vegetation. Defining remnant status in non-woody dominated vegetation, such as grasslands, on the characteristics of the height and cover of the canopy (i.e. the grasses and forbs) is not practical.

The dominant layer in these vegetation types is highly variable according to seasonal conditions, and can be rapidly modified by grazing, fire or mechanical mowing. Neither can variations in its composition and condition be readily and consistently recognised from Landsat TM imagery. The Queensland Herbarium’s two-step process for mapping remnant grasslands and other non-woody vegetation types is therefore to:

Map the extent as remnant vegetation unless there is evidence from imagery of disturbance e.g. cropping in the last 15 years; or an on-site assessment disqualified it as remnant on the basis of species composition or cover.

Figure 7. Flow chart showing assessment sequence for mapping vegetation cover (source: Methodology for Survey and Mapping of Regional Ecosystems and Vegetation Communities in Queensland Figure 3)

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