In South Australia, 11% or 10.4 million hectares of native vegetation has been removed, principally in the higher rainfall areas in the south. Remnant vegetation in these areas is highly fragmented, in particular in the Eyre Yorke Block, Kanmantoo, Flinders Lofty Block, Naracoorte Coastal Plain and Murray-Darling Depression bioregions.
The most affected major vegetation groups are the mallee woodlands and shrublands, eucalypt woodlands, acacia shrublands, hummock grasslands and eucalypt open forests.
Where extant mapping is not available and for the areas where vegetation has been cleared, broad pre-European mapping was used to fill the gaps. However, the pre-European mapping was based on a much broader structural classification system that was not directly comparable with the classification system of the extant mapping. Area estimates from this comparison have been included for indicative purposes only. A program now exists to map pre-European vegetation with the same classification standards as the extant mapping that will enable future comparisons.
The Audit assessment of landscape health provides a summary on a subregional basis of the landscape stresses in South Australia including clearing, grazing, feral animals and weeds (NLWRA 2001c).
|Major Vegetation Group||Pre-European Area (km2)||Circa 1997 Area (km2)||% remaining relative to pre-European area|
|Eucalyptus open forest||4,153||396||10|
|Eucalyptus low open forest||17||17||100|
|Acacia forest and woodlands||15,414||15,414||100|
|Callitris forest and woodlands||1,023||1,023||100|
|Casuarina forest and woodlands||15,261||15,261||100|
|Melaleuca forest and woodlands||18||7||38|
|Other forests and woodlands||37,807||34,958||92|
|Eucalyptus open woodlands||7,652||7,652||100|
|Acacia open woodlands||25,414||25,414||100|
|Mallee woodlands and shrublands||181,354||118,531||65|
|Low closed forest and closed shrublands||3||3||100|
|Other grasslands, herblands, sedgelands and rushlands||772||772||100|
|Chenopod shrub, samphire shrub and forblands||183,263||182,644||100|
|Mangroves, tidal mudflat, samphire and bare areas, claypan, sand, rock, salt lakes, lagoons, lakes||28,897||28,769||100|
This analysis is based on a comparison of the present extent of major vegetation groups (circa 1997) and pre-European mapping.
Analysis at the Australia-wide, State and Territory and regional scales provides information on which to base broad assessments of change in extent and type of vegetation. This is a key input to assessing:
- the representativeness or otherwise of Australia's nature conservation estate and for related interpretations (e.g. setting priorities for retention of native vegetation types);
- opportunities for catchment rehabilitation, whether the issue is catchment hydrology or dryland salinity control;
- the types of vegetation suitable for rehabilitation, restoration and/or revegetation activities in an area; and
- priorities for protection of biodiversity in landscapes under stress.
Pre-European vegetation and present native vegetation for many States and Territories do not match in mapping method or scale. Development of pre-European vegetation maps in cleared areas of Australia is usually dependent upon coarse or generalised data on landforms and soils sometimes at 1:250 000 or even 1:1 000 000 scale. Reconstructing the natural complexity of vegetation patterns from such broad interpretations is difficult. Earlier vegetation mapping for areas now cleared may similarly be coarse in scale and/or generalised, with little data from systematic field sampling to support the derivation of mapping units and the allocation of individual patches of native vegetation to mapping units.
Pre-European data is more reliable where:
- impacts of European land use is minimal;
- there is good physical and floristic information (e.g. in Victoria) which can be used for detailed interpolation; and
- the scale of the pre-European mapping and method is similar to that of the current extent mapping (e.g. in Queensland, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia).
Data variability is greatest in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, where the pre-European data does not meet the requirements of the National Vegetation Information System. In Tasmania the pre-European data is not finalised. In these States it is assumed that the present vegetation mapped is an approximate representation of the pre-European vegetation. The Australia wide pre-European major vegetation groups data set is an interim product.
|Major Vegetation Group||Cleared Area (km2)||% cleared across SA as total of clearing|
|Eucalyptus open forest||3,756||3.6|
|Melaleuca forest and woodlands||11||0|
|Other forests and woodlands||2,849||2.7|
|Mallee woodlands and shrublands||62,966||60.3|
|Chenopod shrub, samphire shrub and forblands||620||.6|
|Mangroves, tidal mudflat, samphire and bare areas, claypan, sand, rock, salt lakes, lagoons, lakes||130||.1|
Note: The clearing referred to in table 2 does not include grazing, thinning or other activities. In particular, parts of the rangelands may be heavily disturbed.
Map: Cleared Major Vegetation Groups (circa 1997) in South Australia
Major vegetation groups V1.0 (1km), National Land and Water Resources Audit 2001. Data used are assumed to be correct from suppliers.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2001
The summary maps provide information on Australia's native vegetation collated within the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) at July 2001 and with additional mapped information. The NVIS will be updated as vegetation mapping becomes available.
The map is a compilation of data collected at different scales by different organisations. Major Vegetation Groups were compiled by Environment Australia based on data collated by the Bureau of Rural Sciences and provided by Environment ACT, Department of Urban Services; NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service; NSW Royal Botanic Gardens; NSW State Forests; NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment; Queensland Herbarium, Environmental Protection Agency; SA Department for Environment and Heritage; Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment; Flora Section, Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Agriculture Western Australia; Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management and Geoscience Australia, National Mapping Division.
This analysis is based on the present extent of native vegetation and data on the type and area of these groups cleared in Australia from the pre-European mapping. All summary findings are based on the data sets compiled for the National Vegetation Information System and development of the major vegetation groups.
This analysis at the Australia-wide, State and Territory and regional scales provides information on which to base assessment of change in land cover and type of vegetation, a key input to vegetation management activities. Loss of particular vegetation types across regions impacts on biodiversity values and landscape function and this analysis highlights those major vegetation groups.
At the regional scale, the National Vegetation Information System compilation provides an excellent basis for regional planning groups to understand the changes in vegetation extent that have occurred and set their regional priorities for vegetation management in the context of this information. The assessment of major vegetation groups across Australia provides a broader context.
As detailed previously, issues of attributes, scale and currency of available mapping limits the precision of this analysis. The broad nature of the major vegetation groups masks the distinct vegetation types and regional clearing patterns that would emerge at a finer scale of analysis.
View the guidelines for the interpretation of vegetation mapping products.
View the references used in the Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001.
Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001 was facilitated and coordinated by the National Land and Water Resources Audit and prepared in partnership with State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies:
Australian Capital Territory
Department of Urban Services
New South Wales
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
NSW Botanic Gardens
Department of Natural Resources, Environment and The Arts
Environment Protection Agency
Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Department of Sustainability and Environment
Australian Greenhouse Office
Department of Environment and Heritage
View the Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001 report
View all Theme Reports from the National Land and Water Resources Audit
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