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Remnant regional ecosystems vegetation in Queensland

This report presents bioregion and subregion analysis of remnant vegetation extent of regional ecosystems in Queensland for the period 1997-2015 and replaces Accad and Neldner (2015).

The report for the first time provides statistics on the extent of Queensland's remnant regional ecosystem vegetation for the entire state and extends the reporting period to include 2013-2015. The report is based on the detailed regional ecosystem survey and mapping of Version 10.0 Regional Ecosystems and Version 5.0 Bioregions and subregions of Queensland (Figure 1), which is 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 2015. 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 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 1997-2015

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 2013-2015

The average annual rate of clearing of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation in Queensland between 2013 and 2015 was 101,300 hectares per year (Figure 2) and occurred in the:

  • Mulga Lands bioregion (32% of clearing in Queensland) largely within Cuttaburra – Paroo, Nebine Plains, Langlo Plains, North Eastern Plains, West Balonne Plains, Northern Uplands, West Bulloo and West Warrego subregions;
  • Brigalow Belt bioregion (21%) largely within Southern Downs, Belyando Downs, Weribone High, Carnarvon Ranges, Moonie - Barwon Interfluve, Isaac - Comet Downs, South Drummond Basin, Northern Bowen Basin, Townsville Plains, Arcadia, Inglewood Sandstones, Macintyre - Weir Fan and Banana - Auburn Ranges subregions; 
  • Gulf Plains bioregion (21%) largely within Mitchell - Gilbert Fans, Donors Plateau, Claraville Plains and Holroyd Plain - Red Plateau subregions;
  • Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion (14%) largely within the Barkly Tableland, Southwestern Downs and Flinders subregions;
  • Desert Uplands bioregion (5%) largely within Alice Tableland and Jericho subregions;
  • Cape York Peninsula bioregion (2%) largely within Weipa Plateau and Laura Lowlands subregions;
  • Southeast Queensland bioregion (4%) largely within Brisbane - Barambah Volcanics subregion;
  • Channel Country, Einasleigh Uplands, Central Queensland Coast, Northwest Highlands, New England Tableland and Wet Tropics bioregions each contributed less than 1% (see Figure 3).

In 2013–2015, (51.1%) remnant regional ecosystem clearing occurred on freehold tenure, with 45.6% on leasehold tenures, and 3.3% on other tenures.

Average annual clearing rate of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation 1997-2015

Graph showing the average annual clearing rates for remnant regional ecosystem vegetation from 1997 to 2015.

Figure 2. The average annual clearing rates for remnant regional ecosystem vegetation from 1997 to 2015. The clearing rate of remnant regional ecosystem vegetation and regional ecosystems in the 2013-2015 period was 101,300 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 2015 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 (36.4%). The Brigalow Belt bioregion has the second lowest remnant extent (41.5%) and includes the Tara Downs and Taroom Downs subregions which have the lowest subregional remnant extent in Queensland, with 6.2% and 6.9% 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 2013-2015 is the Mulga Lands regional ecosystem 6.7.12 (photographer Teresa Eyre).

Figure 6. The regional ecosystems with the second highest rate of clearing during 2013-2015 is the Gulf Plains regional ecosystem 2.3.9 (photographer Hans Dillewaard).

The regional ecosystems with the most remnant vegetation cleared during the years 2013 to 2015 were regional ecosystem 6.7.12, Acacia aneura +/- Eucalyptus populnea +/- E. melanophloia +/- Eremophila gilesii subsp. gilesii tall shrubland on residuals (Figure 5) with 11,633 ha cleared, and regional ecosystem 2.3.9, Lysiphyllum cunninghamii and/or Eucalyptus microtheca +/- Corymbia confertiflora low open woodland on active Quaternary alluvial plains, outer zones of river deltas (Figure 6) with 11,144 ha cleared. The regional ecosystem analysis MS Excel zip file is available from the download section below.

The clearing of remnant vegetation during 2013-2015 mainly occurred in the following 1:5 Million broad vegetation groups (BVG):

  • Acacia aneura (mulga) dominated open-forests, woodlands and shrublands (BVG 9; 52,100 ha)
  • Eucalypt open forests to woodlands on floodplains (BVG 4; 35,744 ha)
  • Eucalypt dry woodlands on inland depositional plains (BVG 5; 32,447 ha)
  • Other acacia dominated open-forests, woodlands and shrublands (BVG 10; 27,832 ha)
  • Eastern eucalypt woodlands to open-forests (BVG 3; 17,561 ha)
  • Tussock grasslands, forblands (BVG 13; 14,795 ha)
  • Mixed species woodlands – open woodlands, includes wooded downs (BVG 11; 10,276 ha)

Analysis by other themes

The clearing of remnant vegetation during 2013-2015 mainly occurred in the following:

  • Catchments: Warrego river (17%), Lower Norman river (9%), Thomson river (9%), Barcoo river (8%), Mungallala creek (7%), Neebine creek (6%), Einasleigh river (5%), and Upper Norman river (4%).
  • Natural Resource Management Areas (NRM): South West NRM (34%), Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (20%), Desert Channels Queensland (17%), Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (8%), Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM (7%) and Fitzroy Basin Association (6%).
  • Local Government Areas (LGA): Etheridge Shire (17%), Murweh Shire (14%), Blackall Tambo Regional (10%), Paroo Shire (9%), Maranoa Regional (7%), Longreach Regional (6%), Barcaldine Regional (5%), Isaac Regional (3.4%) and Balonne Shire (2.7%)
  • Electoral districts: Warrego (34%), Gregory (29.6%) and Mount Isa (22.2%).

Maps and statistical data for each of the above are available from the download section below, except for electoral districts where only the remnant cover statistics are available.

Download tables and maps

NB: This is the first report to provide analyses of remnant regional ecosystems vegetation for the entire state.

Citation

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

Accad, A., Neldner, V.J., Kelley, J.A.R. and Li, J. (2017). Remnant Regional Ecosystem Vegetation in Queensland, Analysis 1997-2015. Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation: Brisbane.

Appendix

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

Woody 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.

Non-woody 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 extent according to time since cultivation
  • assess the site based on the composition of the vegetation if required.

Related information

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
23 February 2017

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