Can't see the grass for the trees? Community values and perceptions of tree and shrub encroachment in south-eastern Australia

Emily Sharp, Peter Spooner, Jo Millar, Sue Briggs

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    Land-use change has resulted in tree and shrub encroachment in many agricultural regions world-wide, resulting in 'derived' ecosystems which differ from 'natural' elements in terms of structure and composition. Management of derived vegetation can be contentious, because policy makers, stakeholders and community members often hold conflicting value orientations. Developing socially acceptable and effective native vegetation management strategies requires a clearer understanding of the ways people value and perceive derived vegetation communities. Research was conducted in central NSW, Australia, to explore individual values and perceptions of changes to derived vegetation communities, through a group interview with government conservation-based staff, and semi-structured interviews with local community townspeople and farmers. Photographs showing three derived vegetation communities and two hypothetical changes to open woodland communities were used to set a context for discussion. Findings showed that participant values and perceptions encompassed four broad themes relating to diversity of vegetation species, degree of vegetation naturalness, extent and location of derived vegetation and contrasting management concerns and constraints. The findings suggest that acceptable and effective native vegetation policy will require interventions and incentives which are tailored to the local context, and acknowledge landholder management concerns and external constraints associated with woody encroachment in farming country.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-269
    Number of pages10
    JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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