A composite threat indicator approach to monitor vegetation condition in the Wet Tropics, Queensland, Australia

Pert, Petina L., Butler, James R.A., Bruce, Caroline, and Metcalfe, Daniel (2012) A composite threat indicator approach to monitor vegetation condition in the Wet Tropics, Queensland, Australia. Ecological Indicators, 18. pp. 191-199.

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Many indicators and indices have been previously developed to report biodiversity condition at a regional scale. However, none have specifically focused on vegetation condition as a surrogate for biodiversity, and also incorporated threats at multiple scales. Using five indicators (forest cover fragmentation, urbanisation, weeds, feral animals and road density) identified from the scientific literature and selected in collaboration with natural resource management (NRM) stakeholders to reflect the state of vegetation condition in the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics Bioregion of Queensland, Australia, we constructed a simple composite threat index which allowed the spatial display of information at the regional and subregional scale. Using this approach we identified that the overall vegetation condition of the Wet Tropics in the period 2003–2007 was 'good', but at a finer scale five of the bioregions nine subregions had 'moderate' condition, and only four had 'good' condition. The primary threat contributing to the 'moderate' condition was vegetation fragmentation due to clearing for agriculture, housing and related transport infrastructure. The composite threat index approach provided managers with a report card for the Wet Tropics landscape which allows rapid assessment of vegetation condition and contributory threats, and thus prioritization for the allocation of limited resources to threatening processes at the subregional scale.

Item ID: 25489
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1470-160X
Keywords: biodiversity, vegetation condition, fragmentation, indicators, composite threat index, visualization, Wet Tropics of Australia
Funders: Australia Government, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 05:28
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
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