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Assessing the Quality of Native Vegetation: The ‘Habitat Hectares’ Approach

By David Parkes, Graeme Newell, David Cheal
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Assessments of the ‘quality’, condition or status of stands of native vegetation or habitat are now commonplace and are often an essential component of ecological studies and planning processes. Even when soundly based upon ecological principles, these assessments are usually highly subjective and involve implicit value judgments. The present paper describes a novel approach to vegetation or habitat quality assessment (habitat hectares approach) that can be used in almost all types of terrestrial vegetation. It is based on explicit comparisons between existing vegetation features and those of ‘benchmarks’ representing the average characteristics of mature stands of native vegetation of the same community type in a ‘natural’ or ‘undisturbed’ condition.