Ground Cover Monitoring for Australia

​Nationally consistent and regularly updated ground cover information is a critical indicator for environmental targets related to soil erosion and land management in Australia. Ground cover or vegetation cover reduces soil erosion, increases water infiltration, enables carbon sequestration and contributes to agricultural production of food and fibre.

Ground cover of Australian on RAPP map
Monthly vegetation cover (RAPP Map)

Vegetation cover can now be monitored and reported regularly against regional targets, across Australia, using satellite imagery. Explore vegetation cover for Australia online using the Rangelands and Pasture Productivity RAPP Map tool.

To set and report against soil erosion protection targets for your region read the 2020 report: Setting targets for National Landcare Program monitoring and reporting vegetation cover for Australia.

This nationally agreed, reliable and cost-effective, validated method has been developed collaboratively. Funding was received through the National Landcare Program Regional Land Partnerships and previously Caring for our Country. Other major contributors include New South Wales government, CSIRO, Rangelands and Pasture Productivity (RAPP) map as part of the Group on Earth Observation Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM), Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitators, and previous work by ACLUMP partners

See Glossary for definitions of terms such as: Ground cover, Vegetation cover and Fractional cover.

Ground cover monitoring products available as at April 2020:

Data and viewers

RAPP (Rangelands and Pasture Productivity) Map is an online tool to monitor and report monthly fractional cover.

  • Analyse 500m monthly fractional cover from MODIS from 2001 to current
  • Generate reports for regions, areas or locations
  • Access reports for Natural Resource Management regions and Local Government Areas by land use and forest cover
  • Get started with some help videos on YouTube
  • Developed and supported by CSIRO, Data61, GEOGLAM, National Landcare Program.

VegMachine is an online tool to monitor and report seasonal fractional cover. 

  • Analyse 30m seasonal fractional cover from Landsat
  • Generate reports for areas
  • Estimate soil erosion rates
  • Developed by Fitzroy Basin Association, Commonwealth and Queensland Government
  • See more about ground cover from Queensland Government.

Access the MODIS derived vegetation fractional cover data 

  • Access data in NetCDF format from THREDDS
  • Web mapping services (WMS) can be used in GIS software with this URL (Note: You will need access to GIS or mapping software to use this link as it will not open in your web browser.)
  • Download gridded spatial data in GeoTIFF format for Australia.

Journal papers (development and validation)

National network of reference sites

Progress reports

Workshops and conferences


Last reviewed: 10 June 2021
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