Map errors increase farmers’ frustrations

Vegetation management: Map errors increase farmers’ frustrations


MAPPING FAILURE: Boonah landholder Bruce Wagner says errors in vegetation mapping are increasing the challenge of properly managing the landscape even in closely settled farming areas.

MAPPING FAILURE: Boonah landholder Bruce Wagner says errors in vegetation mapping are increasing the challenge of properly managing the landscape even in closely settled farming areas.

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Boonah landholder Bruce Wagner says errors in vegetation mapping are increasing the challenge of properly managing the landscape.

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WHEN Boonah landholder Bruce Wagner began studying vegetation maps for the closely settled Boonah district he was horrified.  

“Tell me, can you see even a single brigalow tree down there?” Mr Wagner asked, indicating a small clump of vegetation in a cow paddock, but marked bright pink on his vegetation map. 

“I don’t know about you, but all I can see is mostly grass, lantana, some wild tobacco, and a couple of silky oak trees. About the only thing I can’t see are the brigalow trees that the mapping identifies.

“But this is what we are up against. We’re being told weeds are endangered trees and too often the areas of trees they want to protect aren’t even on the maps.”

Not only was the mapping wrong, in some instance in showed species of trees that did not even grow in the district.

Bruce Wagner says biodiversity is about managing the balance. "“Once the weeds and trees get away we’ve lost it all,” he says.

Bruce Wagner says biodiversity is about managing the balance. "“Once the weeds and trees get away we’ve lost it all,” he says.

“I’ve certainly never heard of any belah trees around here,” he said.

Mr Wagner said after a number of phone calls and visits by departmental officers, some of the more blatant errors in the mapping were corrected. 

“So much for the accuracy of satellite technology and desktop computer studies,” Mr Wagner said.

“What I am told by the people who do these studies is they have great difficulty determining which type of tree is which. Where they’re in doubt it just seems they map based on their best guess. 

“The trouble is if someone goes and clears some weeds they are potentially going to run into trouble with the vegetation laws and be demonised for illegal tree clearing.”

Mr Wagner said he had often used fire as a tool to manage timbered areas. 

“We have a great relationship with the national parks people and we all recognise the need to keep a good body of ground cover under the trees to maintain the biodiversity.

“Once the weeds and trees get away we’ve lost it all.”

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