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, Joanne Millar, Sue V. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


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, stakeholdersand community members often hold conflicting value orientations. Developing socially acceptable andeffective native vegetation management strategies requires a clearer understanding of the ways peoplevalue 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 agroup interview with government conservation-based staff, and semi-structured interviews with localcommunity townspeople and farmers. Photographs showing three derived vegetation communities andtwo 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 todiversity of vegetation species, degree of vegetation naturalness, extent and location of derived vegetationand contrasting management concerns and constraints. The findings suggest that acceptable andeffective native vegetation policy will require interventions and incentives which are tailored to the localcontext, and acknowledge landholder management concerns and external constraints associated withwoody encroachment in farming country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-269
Number of pages10
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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