Table 3. Case study—The role of dynamic land cover information in managing ground cover in Australia’s cropping areas and rangelands.


Monitoring and reporting steps Examples of the types of analyses used to create soil erosion information products Examples of information needed to manage soil erosion
STEP 1: ASSET DEFINITION
Determine the appropriate landscape scale, characterize the mosaic of land cover types and their ecosystem function (what, when, and where)
Create a time series of soil erosion histories using a remote sensing imagery archive—i.e., 1990 onwards, including AVHRR, MODIS, and Landsat. Use this archive in combination with other information to:

• Classify and map land cover using an appropriate land cover classification system

• Classify and map erosion-affected areas at different scales

• Define key assets at different spatial and temporal scales, including areas at risk

• Develop and test indicators—e.g., percent area classified as bare during the peak growing season

• Establish ground control/reference sites

• Collect field-based measurements of ground cover types
 
• Characteristics of assets within a regional context—e.g., what, where, when, and who manages the asset

• Tables, figures, and maps on the known responses of land cover classes to erosion control practices

• Which land cover classes have biodiversity assets—e.g., threatened communities, sensitive areas

• Ground cover management regimes of each land cover class—e.g., grazing and cropping systems

• Key indicators—e.g., long-term increases and declines in fractional cover indices

• Positive and negative responses of ground cover to changed management practices

STEP 2: IDENTIFY LAND COVER CHARACTERISTICS
Determine the extent that the required ecosystem function and ecosystem services are supplied by the current land cover classes and their ecosystem function, and assess how the social-ecological setting supports and/or limits the capacity for amelioration
• Define appropriate soil erosion thresholds and responses for selected assets

• Characterize the range of responses of ground cover classes to seasonal rainfall patterns

• Characterize changes and trends in erosion-affected areas within ground cover classes

• Establish the links between responses of vegetation over time under known land management practices

• Establish the range of social-ecological responses within land cover classes at various scales and the capacity for amelioration

• Assets and ground cover classes that have appropriate and inappropriate responses over time

• Which land cover classes are likely to exhibit limited capacity to change management practices or ameliorate impacts because of social-ecological settings
 
STEP 3: IDENTIFY NEEDS FOR CHANGE
Determine if and where in the landscape changes in land use or management actions will maintain or enhance the condition of vegetation assets and hence improve the mix of ecosystem services
• Identify those ground cover classes where the spatial and temporal responses are due to inappropriate management practices

• Identify which areas are likely to respond positively to a change in land use or land management practices

• Identify which areas have responded positively to a change in land management practices—e.g., observed improved enhanced vegetation index response curves and improved mix of ecosystem services
 
• Which assets and ground cover classes exhibit unacceptable responses over time and are due to inappropriate management practices

• Which assets and ground cover classes are likely to respond positively to a change in land management practices

• Short-, medium-, and long-term responses indicating the likely responses of vegetation and habitats to changes in land management practices

• Relationships between ground-based practices and responses observed in remotely sensed imagery
 
STEP 4: IDENTIFY AND SELECT OPTIONS AND IMPLEMENT PRIORITY ACTIONS
Set priorities for actions, consider trade-offs involved, and identify areas for intervention where actions are to be undertaken through existing, revised, or new policy and programs and/or changes in land management practices. Invest in interventions that match selection criteria, and monitor land cover responses and links to ecosystem services and the effects of investments; integrate relevant monitoring data with existing database systems
• Identify those land cover classes and assets that are priority areas for changed management practices

• Assess costs and benefits—i.e., trade-offs of intervening to change practices

• Assess the least cost land management change options and maximum social benefit options for each ground cover class

• Provide field maps to engage the community and industry

• Select ground-based reference and monitoring sites

• Conduct regular monitoring and reporting of plot-based ground cover sites

• Integrate ongoing ground-based monitoring with existing database systems

• Negotiate work programs for areas to be treated

• Identify assets to be avoided

• Target areas for special treatment/s

• Identify investment priorities and opportunities to create a business plan

• Identify high-value agricultural land to ensure it is protected through regional planning

• Information needed to support regional natural resource planning and investment and strategies for industry development

• Least cost options for intervening, and the likely social benefit in different social-ecological settings

• Information to enable managers to accurately deploy priority actions in selected land cover classes and assets

• Near to real time information showing what, when, and where an intervention was implemented

STEP 5: EVALUATE THE RESPONSES OF THE LAND COVER TO ACTIONS Analyze the spatial and temporal patterns and how well the outcome met the desired goals and targets • Analyze the extent of a study area that has been successfully treated using other socioeconomic and environmental information

• Analyze daily MODIS and AVHRR imagery to track the extent of a study area treated

• Extent of a study area that was successfully and unsuccessfully treated, and the reasons why—e.g., access constraints, training, cultural constraints

• Which ground cover classes and assets were not adequately identified, and the reasons why—particular soil types and seasonal conditions

• Which vegetation types and habitats responded over time in unexpected ways

• Social-ecological benefits of the intervention/s—short-, intermediate-, long-term

• Extent to which target/s were met (what, when, and where)

• Identify key problem areas to restore soil function

• Generate information to enable evaluation and reporting on soil condition indicators

REPEAT STEPS 1–5 AS REQUIRED