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Site Assessment for Remnant Vegetation

  • Why assess the site?

  • How to do site assessment?

  • Site assessment is the first step in the management of remnant vegetation.
    This page outlines the main factors to take into consideration when doing a site assessment.

    Why assess the site?

    In order to manage a patch of remnant vegetation we need to know what it is we are managing.A site assessment forms the basis of a plan of action.It is also a useful reference for monitoring the effects of management actions.

    How to do site assessment?

    Site assessment is basically the recording of information about a site in an ordered and logical format. The main areas to take into account are:
  • Size and shape
  • Connection to other remnants
  • Aspect and topography
  • Site history
  • Soil type
  • Vegetation type
  • Habitat potential
  • Management issues such as weeds and feral animals
  • Where to from here?

  • Size and shape

    Estimate the size of the remnant. A small remnant may have some disadvantages over a larger remnant in regards to its long-term viability, although a small remnant may be easier to manage from the point of view of weed control. The shape of a site is also important. If there is a high ratio of edges compared to internal area then more time will be spent on boundary issues such as maintaining fences and keeping weeds out.

    Connection to other remnants

    A remnant that is linked to, or near, another area of native vegetation stands more chance of survival and enhancement than an isolated patch of vegetation in a paddock. Planting corridors to link up remnants, is often a crucial part of native vegetation management, as these provide cover for the movement of native animals and seed material.

    Aspect and topography

    Record the aspect and the slope of the land. Aspect and topography need to be taken into account when deciding on ways to manage an area.Also record exposure to frost and wind.

    Site history

    The history of the site, such as previous logging, clearing and bushfires will help to explain some of the present conditions of the vegetation.

    Soil type

    The type of soil, including parent material, texture, colour and drainage, is useful in understanding the possible limiting factors or future potential of the site.

    Vegetation type

    This is the most important part of the site assessment and should be as detailed as possible.Canopy cover should be noted as a percentage of total area, along with the condition and the height of the upper canopy.The condition and diversity of the understorey including the presence or absence of weeds species should also be recorded.
    Regeneration of native seedlings in the understorey is another area to note. The community type , and overall diversity of the site is then worked out.
    Individual species of both plants and weeds can be written down on site and specimens taken of those species that cannot be identified immediately.

    Habitat potential

    Signs of birds and animals present can be noted as well as the potential of the area for habitat. Presence or absence of dead trees, hollows and logs on the ground are important aspects of habitat provision.

    Management issues such as weeds and feral animals

    The extent and type of weeds present will dictate the actions that can be taken in protecting a remnant vegetation site.Simply fencing off a remnant from grazing animals may be sufficient for some sites, however those areas wich have a high percentage of exotic species will need weed control measures as well.
    Other issues to take into account include threats from feral animals, or from nearby development and pollution sources.

    Where from here?

    The next step is to draw up a map of the site, showing the different components of the site, including the main weed areas.
    The site asssessment, map and species list form the basis for constructing a vegetation management plan, which defines the objectives and actions for managing the site.

    Written by Kathryn WOOD

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