Cunninghamia – Classifying and mapping the Australian Alps’ Native Vegetation

Brendan Mackey, Peter Jacobs and Sonia Hugh | 2015



Strategic and systematic planning for bioregional landscapes that cross jurisdictions is often hampered by different approaches to collecting, classifying and mapping information on the native vegetation cover in terms of major community types. The network of Australian Alps National Parks is one such multi-jurisdictional bioregional landscape consisting of 11 protected areas spanning 1.6 million hectares across Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Although the Alps network has a co-operative management program and the parks are listed as National Heritage, there is no common vegetation classification system or map at a scale suitable for management. As part of developing a strategic framework to assist biodiversity conservation for the whole of the Alps Network, a common vegetation classification and map was produced. The new classification utilised existing State vegetation classes and mapping to produce a common system by matching 71 NSW/ACT vegetation groups with 72 Victorian ecological vegetation classes, thereby resulting in 17 common vegetation classes with affinities with other studies described. The 17 vegetation classes also group into five broad vegetation character classes. Expert knowledge was used to match vegetation groups and classes. The resulting classification and map are available as a GIS data layer and as part of a decision support data-pack. This approach provides a low cost method for developing a common vegetation system across multi-jurisdictional landscapes, without replacing State-based systems, and in a format that can be readily updated in light of new field surveys and remotely sensed data. The new classification and map are available for download from an online data repository. This new vegetation information can be applied to help promote a whole-of-landscape approach to planning and management of the Alps Network.