Native vegetation information

people looking at a map

Native vegetation is crucial for the health of New South Wales’ environment and the wellbeing of our community. Native vegetation supports many rural enterprises by sheltering livestock, protecting soils and water quality,  provides a valuable and renewable source of timber and vegetation is intrinsic to our unique rural landscapes. Retaining a diverse mix of plants and healthy habitat is critical for the long-term survival of our native animals.

Information about native vegetation is used widely for a range of activities, for example, by environmental consultants for environmental assessments, the Rural Fire Service for fire management, Local Land Services for monitoring the effectiveness of their land-use planning, and by local government for environmental management and planning.

Providing the best native vegetation information for NSW

The Office of Environment and Heritage is responsible for gathering, managing and providing information about the native plants and animals of the state. We deliver a number of programs, services and information for land owners and developers to help them manage their interactions with wildlife and native vegetation.

In addition to this, our scientists and mapping experts from the OEH Science Division have an important role in making this native vegetation information across NSW more accessible, understandable and useful.

Our work program includes the following areas:

Information standards and guidelines:  We provide a consistent way of describing vegetation for NSW by developing standards for describing, recording and mapping of vegetation at all scales and in all regions across the state. Our standards and procedures are guided by the OEH Vegetation Information & Mapping External Scientific Advisory Committee.

Maps, data and tools: We produce and make available maps, data and tools that can help users identify the types of native vegetation at a local and state scale and can show vegetation extent, type, condition and changes across the state. We provide access to vegetation information such as maps, survey and classification descriptions through the NSW Vegetation Information System (VIS) and we also manage the Bionet biodiversity portal to help the community access and also supply information about wildlife observations, threatened species and surveys.

Describing types of vegetation in NSW: We are refining the hierarchical vegetation classification system for NSW. At the core is a consistent Plant Community Type classification unit that is primarily quantitatively defined from the analysis of site survey data. This classification system will improve the recognition and reporting of vegetation communities by government and commercial environmental consultants, especially through planning and development assessment processes.

Monitoring our vegetation:  We monitor changes in vegetation cover over time to report on trends in both vegetation loss and regrowth; we identify and prioritise areas of NSW that need more accurate localised mapping to continually improve our state wide maps; we conduct field surveying to ensure that our maps and descriptions of plant communities are as robust and reliable as possible.

Our research: Our scientists continuously develop and refine remote sensing analysis and mapping techniques as well as species and community distribution modelling. We also conduct detailed and systematic analysis to predict vegetation patterns and recognise their intrinsic species associations. OEH scientists regularly collaborate with other researchers. For example, OEH is a major partner in the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program that has membership from multiple state governments, universities and research institutions.

Stay up to date

Contact us at vegetation.info@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Page last updated: 02 November 2018