Agriculture occupies 59 per cent of Australia’s 7.6 million square kilometre landmass. Land managed for agriculture includes assets important for biodiversity conservation. These assets include remnant native vegetation (such as patches of forest, woodlands, shrublands and grasslands), native vegetation along rivers and creeks, wetlands and rocky outcrops. Preliminary estimates suggest that around two thirds of Australia’s native vegetation may be on land mapped as used for agriculture. Much of this land is native pasture.
The sustainable management of vegetation on private land is critical for the long term viability of rural Australia. Better management of vegetation can benefit farm and forestry productivity, rural communities and the environment and may help reduce the impacts of greenhouse gases. It also provides many ecosystem services such as clean water and flood mitigation.
The department's major focus in respect of vegetation is to:
- increase stakeholder knowledge and understanding of the scope for NRM improvements through improved management of vegetation on farms
- identify (and where possible address) impediments to improved vegetation management on farms.
The department's major investment in vegetation is through Caring for Our Country. This iniative funds vegetation activities in NRM regions around Australia as well as vegetation research, knowledge management and trials.
On farm vegetation management practices are being monitored using the biennial Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Agricultural Resource Management Survey, which surveys 33 000 of Australia’s 135 000 agricultural businesses (farmers). Results are reported at the national, state and natural resource management region levels.
In accordance with their constitutional responsibility for NRM, the states and territories also have a range of strategies, guidelines and initiatives that address vegetation management and monitoring in their own jurisdictions.
National Vegetation Information System (NVIS)
The NVIS is a comprehensive data system that provides information on the extent and distribution of vegetation types in Australian landscapes. The NVIS is a collaborative initiative between the Australian and state and territory governments to manage national vegetation data to help improve vegetation planning and management within Australia. It was developed to assist in managing a range of ecosystem services and practices and guide better natural resource management decision making.