An overview of methods used to assess vegetation condition at the scale of the site

Philip Gibbons*, David Freudenberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid, on-ground assessments of vegetation condition are frequently used as a basis for landholder education, development applications, distributing incentive funds, prescribing restoration treatments and monitoring change. We provide an overview of methods used to rapidly assess vegetation condition for these purposes. We encourage those developing new approaches to work through the steps we have presented here, namely define management objectives and operational constraints; develop an appropriate conceptual framework for the ecosystems under consideration; select an appropriate suite of indicators; and consider the options available for combining these into an index. We argue that information must be gained from broader scales to make decisions about the condition of individual sites. Remote sensing and spatial modelling might be more appropriate methods than on-ground assessments for obtaining this information. However, we believe that spatial prediction of vegetation condition will only add value to on-ground assessments rather than replace them. This is because the current techniques for spatially predicting vegetation condition cannot capture all of the information in a site assessment or at the required level of accuracy, and maps cannot replace the exchange of information between assessors and land managers that is an important component of on-ground assessment. There is scope for more sophistication in the way on-ground assessments of vegetation condition are undertaken, but the challenge will be to maintain the simplicity that makes rapid on-ground assessment a popular vehicle for informing natural resource management. We encourage greater peer review and publishing in this field to facilitate greater exchange of ideas and experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S10-S17
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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