Koondrook-Perricoota Forest, NSW: Vegetation Condition Monitoring Program

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GHD is assisting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (through Forestry Corporation of NSW) to understand the response of the iconic Koondrook-Perricoota Forest to flooding and the application of ‘environmental water.’ The forest forms part of the second largest River Red-gum floodplain forest in Australia and has been under significant stress in recent decades due to river regulation and drought.

Since 2013, GHD has undertaken a five-year forest-wide monitoring program to determine change in vegetation condition in wetlands, forest understorey, individual trees and the overall forest stand.

One of the primary challenges was to not only document change in condition over time, but to understand whether management actions through the allocation of environmental water were having the desired benefit of improving ecosystem condition. Consequently, GHD undertook a review of the monitoring program to identify critical indicators of ecosystem health, and how to measure success of the program (via the identification of condition targets).

The results indicate that flooding is critical to maintain long-term forest health, while the program review helped to identify specific indicators that were crucial for tracking change in ecosystem health. Forestry Corporation of NSW now has the ability to not only measure change over time, but to determine whether investment in environmental watering is having the desired outcome of improving forest condition.

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