AusPlots Rangelands, part of TERN’s Multi-Scale Plot Network, is pleased to announce the release of the AusPlots Rangelands Survey Protocols Manual. Developed in conjunction with collaborators from all Australian rangeland jurisdictions across several agencies, this survey methodology will be used to collect uniform data across Australia's rangelands to inform research, management and conservation strategies.
While environmental monitoring through the rangelands has a long history, incomplete geographic coverage and inconsistent methods have led to problems in comparing data across time and space. The AusPlots Rangelands Survey Protocols Manual addresses this issue, providing a simple agreed method for anyone undertaking research or monitoring in the Australian rangelands.
The manual divides the new method into a series of modules and respective collection protocols that can be undertaken as individual investigations or in combination with others. There has already been great interest in the methodology, with over 550 downloads of a pre-release version of the Manual in its first fortnight.
Ben Sparrow, a member of the AusPlots Rangelands team based at the University of Adelaide says, 'As a result of close collaboration with stakeholders during the development phase, we are now seeing the rapid adoption of the methodology. Field survey teams in the NT, SA and NSW are already using the methodology and its associated app (currently in field testing) to collect data more efficiently, often in conjunction with their own established monitoring programs.'
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is already using the methodology as part of the 'Groundcover Monitoring for Australia' project, and is also using a customised version of the AusPlots Rangelands app in this work.
'Using the app on a tablet while you're standing in the field cuts down on the potential for errors in method and data entry,' explains Ben. 'The data can then be uploaded to the server as soon as you have a network connection. These kinds of simple efficiencies can be really important in the context of long-term monitoring programs, and significantly cut down on time spent entering raw data.'
These efficiencies and other benefits that arise from using a nationally recognised and accepted method have also attracted private organisations, including the Australian Landscape Trust and BHP Billiton, to implement the AusPlots Rangelands methodology in their work.
The Manual is currently available as a digital download, but the AusPlots Rangelands team will be publishing a hard copy which will be available in late November. To register interest for this hard copy version, please email