Native Vegetation Change Detection Program
Example of satellite imagery with changes in vegetation cover highlighted
One of the functions of the Native Vegetation Council (NVC) under the Native Vegetation Act 1991, is 'to keep the condition of native vegetation of the State under review'. To do this, the NVC has a native vegetation change detection program. The aim of the program is to monitor any loss in quantity or quality of native vegetation in the rural agricultural regions of South Australia.
Less than 20 percent of indigenous vegetation remains in most agricultural areas, with some regions reporting figures of less than 12 percent, much of it degraded. Vegetation clearance across the State has contributed to 25 percent of all recorded plants and animals being considered as threatened and about 65 percent of native vegetation populations at risk.
How does the program work?
Satellite sensing at regular intervals provides a series of geographically and spectrally calibrated images of the same location across a period of time. Analysis highlights areas where a change in vegetation cover is detected as in the image above.
What happens once a change is detected?
When a change is detected, the data is verified to eliminate any legitimate changes - for example those occurring from fire or flood; clearance of native vegetation approved by the NVC or under Regulations; seasonal variations or from changes due to planted vegetation.
The verification process may include:
analysing high resolution aerial photography of the area;
obtaining information directly from the landowner(s); and/or
onsite or aerial inspection.
Any area that is questionable is referred to the Compliance Unit (CU) of the Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) who undertake investigations into possible breaches of The Act on behalf of the Native Vegetation Council. During the 2013 -14 financial year, 209 reports of illegal clearance of native vegetation were received or detected.
The imagery captured during monitoring can now be used in court as evidence of breaches of The Act.
The community has often reported breaches and this is most welcome. Stop work orders can be issued for unauthorised clearance so the earlier a suspected breach is reported, the earlier the CU can act. All reports are strictly confidential.
More information on the program via an Information Sheet and guidance on Reporting Unauthorised Clearance can be found on the Department website; http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/managing-natural-resources/Native_vegetation/Managing_native_vegetation/