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Savanna Explorer > Cape York > Fire > Monitoring vegetation change

Monitoring vegetation change

by Peter Stanton, Ecological Consultant and Lisa Roeger, Bushfires Council of the NT. From Savanna Burning—Understanding and Using Fire in Northern Australia, Tropical Savannas CRC, Darwin 2001

Aerial photo Iron Range National Park, 1970

Examples of aerial photographs of Iron Range National Park for 1970 (above) and 1991 (below).The rainforest can be seen as the darker areas

Aerial photo Iron Range National Park, 1991

Overlaid digitised boundaries of rainforest, Iron Range National Park

Overlaid digitised boundaries of rainforest in Iron Range National Park showing the expansion of the forest area. The original area in 1943 (dark green) has expanded to the larger area (lighter green) in 1970 and 1991

Rainforest in and around Iron Range National Park in far north Queensland is expanding into the grasslands—a result of restricted burning over the last half century.

Aerial photography’s fine resolution makes it useful for monitoring this long-term vegetation change; photographs for the Iron Range National Park area are available for 1943, 1970 and 1991.

Vegetation communities are delineated on the photographs, and the line information is digitised for mapping and measuring areas.

In a 140 sq. km study site in Iron Range National Park, the rainforest increased by 33.2 sq. km between 1943 and 1970, and by a further 4.4 sq. km from 1970 to 1991.

These vegetation maps are being used in planning strategies for the management of the park and surrounding areas.

Changes in rainforest in the Iron Range area of Cape York

Changes in the area of rainforest in Iron Range National Park between 1943 and 1991