Reporting vegetation condition using the Vegetation Assets, States and Transitions (VAST) framework

Authors

  • Richard Thackway,

  • Robert Lesslie


  • Richard Thackway is the project manager for vegetation information with the Bureau of Rural Sciences (GPO Box 858, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Tel. +61 26272 4856. Fax +61 2 6272 3882. Email: richard.thackway@brs.gov.au). Robert Lesslie is the project manager for land use and land management with the Bureau of Rural Sciences. (GPO Box 858, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: rob.lesslie@brs.gov.au). The VAST project is part of the Forest and Vegetation Sciences programme and was funded by the Natural Heritage Trust.

Abstract

Summary  The Vegetation Assets, States and Transitions (VAST) framework classifies vegetation by degree of human modification as a series of states, from intact native vegetation through to total removal. VAST is a simple communication and reporting tool designed to assist in describing and accounting for human-induced modification of vegetation. A benchmark is identified for each vegetation association based on structure, composition and current regenerative capacity. Benchmarks are based on the best understanding of pre-European conditions (sometimes called ‘fully natural’). Relative change in condition from this benchmark is assessed for each site or patch. Three case studies demonstrate use of the diagnostic criteria that underpin VAST. We argue that VAST has potential to provide a consistent framework for monitoring and reporting vegetation modification at a range of scales. Uses of VAST datasets for natural resource planning and management are discussed including a reporting and communication framework for describing the response of vegetation to changes in land use and land management practices, measuring progress toward vegetation targets and describing and mapping vegetation changes and trends.

Ancillary