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The Tools and Techniques section is currently under development. It should be used as a guide only and should in no way be used as a substitute for the DSE Planting Standards, associated with the delivery of offsets.
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VicVeg Online supports maintaining and improving the extent and condition of native vegetation in Victoria. We assume that’s what you want too.

  • If you wish to increase the extent, look at the revegetation section of the Vegetation Techniques tab.
  • If you wish to improve the condition of existing native vegetation, check out the remnant management section.

Either way, it is important to assess your site before you start on-ground works. Too often, we rush in without realising their site already has considerable natural values, often damaging them in the process. Assessing your site means identifying what is valuable and what threatens those values.

Identify values
If your goal is to maintain and increase the extent and condition of native vegetation, making a list of the natural values or assets your site contains is a good idea. If you then compare your site with a benchmark for that vegetation type, you can also tell what is missing. You are then in a position to prioritise which of your site’s assets you wish to maintain or improve or whether you should restore missing features. To use a benchmark, you will need to identify the vegetation type or types of your site. VicVeg Online’s Plantscapes section can help you do this. It provides guidance with the vegetation typology used in Victoria Victoria’s Department of Sustainability & Environment has prepared benchmarks for all the vegetation types in Victoria. These are known as EVC Benchmarks, but may differ between bioregions. Search online for “EVC benchmarks” to find them.
What plant species occur on your site? Which are indigenous natives and which are weeds? Which are threatened species?
Once you can distinguish the native species from the weeds, you can make better decisions about the site’s management. If you’re not a plant identification expert, the Plant Species section of VicVeg Online has photos that may help with the identification of many Victorian native species. To narrow down which species are likely to occur on your site first use VicVeg Online’s Plantscapes section .
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You can also ask others for help. The Royal Herbarium will identify plants on a fee for service basis, but you may be able to get free help from your local field naturalists clubs, local government authority, Catchment Management Authority, the Trust for Nature or State Government agencies like the Departments of Sustainability & Environment or Primary Industries. Keep in mind that these organisations don’t have plant identification services, but with luck you can often find people that just happen to know about plants and are happy to help out. To make it easy for helpers, you should have specimens of plants with as many features as possible (eg, buds, flowers & fruits as well as foliage). If you mount these on paper sheets, this makes it easier for plant identification and once the name is written on the paper, gives you a record of what grew on your site. Search online for “how to press and prepare plant specimens”. Once you have a list of species, you can search online for “Victorian threatened species advisory list” to discover which are threatened with extinction.

What fauna species occur on your site? Which are threatened species?

Your site will also be supporting native fauna, ie, animals. Fauna includes our well known mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and frogs as well as the often overlooked invertebrates, eg, insects and spiders. You can certainly make lists of obvious fauna species but it’s expensive to prepare a comprehensive inventory of fauna species known to utilise a site. Instead people often assess what habitat features are present. If you do have a list of species, you can search online for “Victorian threatened species advisory list” to discover which are threatened with extinction.

What habitat values does your site provide?

There are formal systems for measuring habitat values, such as the Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment’s ‘Habitat Hectares’. Even if using a formal system doesn’t suit you, it is good to be aware of what is present at your site.
The following features are considered important habitat values or resources for fauna:

  • The quantity of trees and their arrangement on the site has a large influence on what fauna species and how many individuals can live there. (There are also naturally treeless types of native vegetation such as native grasslands.)
  • The presence of old trees, as these provide better resources for fauna, eg, hollows that are very important for fauna shelter.
  • The diversity and coverage of understorey species also has a strong influence on fauna species and their populations at a site. For most types of native vegetation, the understorey, including ground covers, is where the plant species diversity is highest.
  • The presence of vegetation debris, from fallen trees to leaf litter, also greatly increases the number of fauna species and their populations at a site
  • Non-biological factors like surface rocks are also a resource for fauna.
  • The productivity of a site for fauna is also determined by soil fertility and moisture availability. Naturally fertile sites with year round water availability will support greater numbers of fauna.
  • Sites that have a diversity of micro-environments or ‘patchiness’ also are likely to support a wider range of species than a homogenous site.
  • Patches of remnant vegetation that are closely connected to other patches will support more fauna species than isolated patches.

In some areas, even invasive species provide significant habitat values. For instance, in cleared landscapes, prickly shrubs like Gorse or Boxthorn can provide low shelter and nesting sites for birds that could not otherwise exist in that landscape.

With an inventory of the values of your site, you can gauge the significance or importance of the site compared to others that have been similarly assessed. The Habitat Hectare system has a significance calculation built in.

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Identify threats

Once you have a list of your site’s natural assets, you will also need to know what are the threats to them, or what is preventing the re-instatement of missing habitat components. Threats to your site’s assets may even operate outside your site. For instance, clearance or degradation of adjacent native vegetation could threaten the viability of an animal species that uses both areas.
Some of the commonest threats are:

Threat  Consequence
Weed invasion Replacement of native species. Regeneration of native species eliminated or reduced.
Inappropriate grazing regimes Loss of palatable herbaceous species. Weed invasion. No regeneration of woody plants. Some native grasslands may need grazing to maintain species diversity.
Other kinds of over-harvesting, eg, of fallen timber for firewood Site won’t support as many species. No sheltering of regenerating woody seedlings from grazing.
Invasive animal pests, eg, rabbits, hares, goats, pigs, deer, slugs Uncontrollable grazing pressure leading to loss of palatable herbaceous species. Weed invasion. Soil degradation.
Soil disturbance, eg, from rabbits or human interference Weed invasion. Soil degradation.
Inappropriate fire regimes Loss of native species. Weed invasion.

Most sites will have more than one threat present. To gain some perspective on which are the most important, think about the impact of the threat if nothing was done. Does the threat operate on the site assets that contribute the most to the site’s significance?

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Decide what to do

Once you know what threats are operating, what assets are present and which are missing, you can decide what to do. In making decisions, you would also give consideration to your own priorities and how much time and money you can allocate to your site. There are various tools available. VicVeg Online offers guidance on revegetation in the Vegetation Techniques tab. In that same tab, there are ideas on management of remnant native vegetation. The Other Tools tab describes some tools you may find useful.

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