Sustainably Managing the Defence Estate: Selected Case Studies
The Australian Defence estate includes extensive training areas and facilities. Almost all Defence facilities were previously managed for other purposes, including forestry and grazing. Today most of the Defence estate is less intensively managed than before, and in most places plant communities are recovering, when compared to a fully natural reference state. Carefully documenting past and contemporary land management practices, and their observed effects on the indicators of vegetation condition over time, provides land managers valuable insights for adaptive management. To illustrate this, the Vegetation Assets States and Transitions (VAST-2) framework was applied to two former Defence sites—the Tianjara Defence Training Area and the Belconnen Naval Transmitter Station—and the current Royal Australian Air Force Base at Amberley.
Assessments of the degree of transformation at each site were benchmarked to a fully natural reference state, and underpinned by a comprehensive and systematic chronology of land management practices and standardized criteria and indicators. The analysis provides actionable knowledge for site and landscape management. It also highlights the contribution of deliberate land management regimes to maintaining or improving the condition of the Defence estate for military, biodiversity conservation and national land management purposes.
KeywordsLand management Defence estate Vegetation assessment Military purposes
The assistance of Robert Snedden is gratefully acknowledged through his extensive interviews of former users of the former Tianjara Defence Training Area. Robert also provided access to a digital copy of a rectified 1946 aerial photo of the impact area and a promotional Defence video “Tianjara Gunner”, made in 1968, which is held at the Australian War Memorial. This information provided valuable insights into the effects that field firing had on the dry mallee-heath.
The support of Sue McIntyre and Ken Hodgkinson is appreciated, particularly their first hand on-ground field survey knowledge of the plant community found within the secure fence of the former Belconnen Naval Transmitter Station.
The assistance of Claire Joseph is gratefully acknowledged regarding RAAF Base Amberley through liaising with key Defence staff to enable access to reference material held on the base and escort during a brief reconnaissance of the area. Thanks to Frederick Ford for making available digitised, rectified time series aerial photos of RAAF Base Amberley.
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