RRRD027 Getting ground cover right – thresholds and baselines for a healthier reef


Project Leader

Terry Beutel
Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry





Go straight to the publications from this project

Project Overview

Recent R&D has integrated satellite time-series and high resolution imagery with roadside land condition assessments to build valuable cover and condition monitoring data sets. These data sets have been compiled across the two largest Reef catchments - the Burdekin and Fitzroy Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions, and enjoyed extensive uptake by NRM planners and landholders alike.

However there is significant scope to improve ground cover monitoring by refinement and robust validation of these products, and provision of better access and training for their users (land mangers and agency operatives). The project addresses the need for these improvements.

Project Deliverables

  • An improved Ground Cover Index product and analysis routine to separate management and seasonal effects in grazing lands.
  • Validated field data of ground cover and land condition for the Fitzroy and Burdekin NRM regions.
  • Enhanced land monitoring support packages and publications for Fitzroy and Burdekin extension staff and land managers.

PROGRESS UPDATES are summarised here

Study Areas

The study area includes the full extent of the FBA and NQDT regions, including over 1000 field assessment sites.

Associated Reef Rescue R&D Research

  • RRRD032 will provide additional field validation of cover and condition
  • RRRD032 will contribute to refining VegMachine interpretation methods
  • RRRD024 will receive support in the form of ground cover products to assess on ground changes at various project related sites

Related External Research

Reef Rescue WQ Grants
Reef Water Quality Science Program
  • Support for and integration with RP68G.
  • Provision of extension materials and technical support for Burdekin Reef Protection Extension project.

Publications From This Project

The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD027 is available for download via the Final Report page. This report should be cited as:

Beutel, T.S., Tindall, D., Denham, R., Trevithick, R., Scarth, P. Abbott, B and Holloway, C. (2014). Getting ground cover right: thresholds and baselines for a healthier reef. Report to the Reef Rescue Research and Development Program. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (64pp.). ISBN: 978-1-925088-20-5.

Several presentations have been delivered to summarise the project results at Reef Rescue R&D forums; visit the Events page for further information.

Publications and tools:

Visit VegMachine Queensland

Star, M., Rolfe, J., Donaghy, P., Beutel, T., Whish, G., Abbott, B. (2012). Targeting resource investments to achieve sediment reduction and improved Great Barrier Reef health. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 180, 148-156.

Bastin, G., Scarth, P., Chewings, Sparrow, A., Denham, R., Schmidt, M., O'Reagain, P., Shepherd, R.,  and Abbott, B. (2012). Separating grazing and rainfall effects at regional scale using remote sensing imagery: A dynamic reference-cover method. Remote Sensing of Environment, 121, 443–457.