Environmental Management

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 572–590 | Cite as

Describing and Mapping Human-Induced Vegetation Change in the Australian Landscape

  • Richard ThackwayEmail author
  • Robert Lesslie


Australian reporting requirements for native vegetation require improved spatial and temporal information on the anthropogenic effects on vegetation. This includes better linkage of information on vegetation type (e.g., native vegetation association), extent and change, vegetation condition, or modification. The Vegetation Assets, States and Transitions (VAST) framework is presented as a means for ordering vegetation by degree of anthropogenic modification as a series of condition states, from a residual or base-line condition through to total removal. The VAST framework facilitates mapping and accounting for change and trends in the status and condition of vegetation. The framework makes clear the links between land management and vegetation condition states, provides a mechanism for describing the consequences of land management practices on vegetation condition, and contributes to an understanding of resilience. VAST is a simple communication and reporting tool designed to assist in describing and accounting for anthropogenic modification of vegetation. A benchmark is identified for each vegetation association. Benchmarks are based on structure, composition, and current regenerative capacity. This article describes the application of the VAST framework as a consistent national framework to translate and compile existing mapped information on the modification of native vegetation. We discuss the correspondence between these compiled VAST datasets at national and regional scales and describe their relevance for natural resource policy and planning.


Vegetation condition Modification states States and transitions Land management practices Degradation Landscape alteration levels Restoration Monitoring change Priority setting 



The development of the VAST framework was funded by the Natural Heritage Trust and the Bureau of Rural Sciences. Many researchers and policy specialists across Australia have contributed to the ideas in this article, including the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts; CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems; Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment; Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts; and the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. Ian Frakes and Mijo Gavran assembled components of the figures and tables. Adam Gerrand, Tracey Lutton, Lucy Randall, and Graham Yapp provided comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Rural SciencesCanberraAustralia

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