Veg Communities of the Southern Tablelands

Vegetation classification

  • The vegetation classification in the table below (which I hope you will take some time to study) in column 1 shows the Veg structure and classes. (Sarah Sharp, Plant Ecologist with Environment ACT has provided assistance byeviewing this information for me and her contirbution is gratefully acknowledged.)
  • Vegetation formation represent the highest level of classification – grasslands, grassy woodlands, dry and wet sclerophyll forest, wetlands, and heath, shrub and other communities. Different authors may adopt a slightly different classification of formations.
  • Vegetation class are those defined by Keith that apply to the Southern Tablelands. These are shown in column 1. Keith’s book Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes; the native vegetation of NSW and the ACT has a good description of each class which includes lists of indicative plant species (trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses). The concept of indicative species is not described.
  • The next level of classification is vegetation type which is used in the NSW Biometric Classification. I have circulated material on this showing each of the vegetation types that sit below the vegetation classes. The table (column 3) shows the number of each vegetation types in each vegetation class. There are forty vegetation types in the Southern Tablelands. In the material that I have circulated, for each vegetation type, information on dominant species, main associated species, characteristic mid-storey, and characteristic ground-storey species has been provided.
  • It is recognised that there are levels below the vegetation type. According to Sarah the next level would be vegetation communities. In the ACT, Sarah has developed a classification of vegetation communities which she is attempting to align to vegetation types. Information on the number of vegetation communities is shown in column 8. Sarah hopes that her classification will be published in July this year and it should be very comprehensive. For example it will show characteristic tree, shrub, and ground cover plant species. An example of the type of information that will be provided can be seen in a paper that Sarah has provided me, Setting Conservation Targets for Vegetation Communities in the ACT. That paper lists nine vegetation communities that are either listed as threatened or are candidates for listing, because less that 30% of their original area remains.
  • One can drill below that level. For example, in some vegetation communities shown in Sarah’s paper, there are lists of vegetation associations. The NSW vegetation types are built up from Regional Forest Agreement Classes (or whatever they are called). One could also include populations of rare plants (e.g. Eucalyptus pulverulenta) as sub-categories and determine to which vegetation type or community they belong to.

Size of areas to be allocated to vegetation formation, classes and vegetation types

  • The table below also attempts to determine area or plot size that might be allocated to each formation, class, and vegetation type. 
    • A number of assumptions are made here but these will be refined as John Nightingale progresses with the CAD analysis.
      • It is assumed that the total area available for planting in Block 100 is 2ha (20,000 sq. m.). This is derived after allowing areas for paths and rest areas, the chocolate lily garden, special features (e.g. rock outcrops) etc.
      • A series of ratios of the vegetation formation/class to total area have been developed (column 5). These ratios have been worked out to give reasonable areas on the ground to each vegetation type.
    • The results are shown in the table below. Take grassland for example, 800m is allowed overall, this is a plot of 20m by 40m (see column 3). Within this three vegetation types have been identified. An area has been included or alpine herbfields and grasslands (40 sq. m., or a plot of 4 x 10m.), and a much larger area, 760 sq. m. (plot of 38m x 20m) has been included for montane temperate grasslands (see column 3). This will allow for a plot of 360 sq. m. (19m x 20m) for each of the two temperate montane grasslands vegetation types (see columns 4, 6 and 7). These are to be taken as illustrative at this time.
    • Below that vegetation types, it has been our intention to provide examples of high quality remnants and base our plantings on them. So it is important to find examples of each vegetation type/community.          

Examples of vegetation type and/or community

  • Before going too far down the track of allocating spaces to veg types and communities, we should come up with examples of sites fitting these categories and, if necessary, visit them to familiarise ourselves with them.
  • In the example of the communities that are included in Sarah’s paper, examples of ACT sites are mentioned.
  • I have still not tied Rainer down to do such work for NSW sites.
  • In choosing representative sites to base plantings on, we should have a good knowledge of the indicative/characteristic plants associated with each vegetation type/community. In addition, we somehow need to work out a strategy for linking all plants to veg type/community.
Vegetation Formation and ClassNo. of Veg  TypesSq. m. per Veg Formation/ClassSq. m. per Veg TypeRatio of Veg Formation/Class: Total areaPlot size: Veg Type – Length (m)Plot size: Veg Type – Breath (m)No. ACT Veg Communities
Col 1Col 2Col 3Col 4Col 5Col 6Col 7Col 8
Alpine Herbfields and Grasslands140400.0024.0102
Temperate Montane Grasslands27603800.03819.0205
Grassy woodlands18102005670.5128.3209
Eastern Riverine Forests211335670.05728.3202
Southern Tableland Grassy Woodlands634005670.17028.3204
Subalpine Woodlands528335670.14228.3202
Tableland Clay Grassy Woodlands528335670.14228.3201
Dry Sclerophyll Forest740005710.2028.6203
South East Dry Scl. Forests211435710.05728.6201
Southern Tableland Dry Scl. Forests422865710.11428.6202
Upper Riverina Dry Scl. Forests15715710.02928.620
Wet Sclerophyll forest634005670.1728.3204
Southern Escarpment Wet Scl. Forests211335670.05756.7101
Southern Tableland Wet Scl. Forests211335670.05756.7101
Montane Wet Scl. Forests211335670.05756.7102
Alpine Bogs and Fens133330.0026.75
Montane Lakes133330.0026.753
Montane Bogs and Fens133330.0026.753
Heath, shrub and other communities514002800.0718.7152

List of plant species associated with each vegetation class, type and community

  • We can now probably come up with characteristic plants of each vegetation type and for some ACT communities.
  • I have circulated some work I have done on eucalyptus trees, assigning these veg types. This can be further developed and other plant families included, starting with other trees and shrubs.
  • AJ Costin A study of ecosystems of the Monaro Region of NSW has a plant list classified by veg type. This should prove highly valuable.
  • There are numerous plant lists for sites around.
  • We should workshop our approach.

Strategy for progressing work

  • Decide on what veg formations/classes/types/communities to represent and allocate space – late 2007.
  • Develop list of trees classified by vegetation type. Late 2007. This will provide the basis of tree planting requirements. Aim for plantings next autumn. However, we need to identify what we want and quantities and place orders earlier.
  • Need to repeat previous step for shrubs and eventually herbs. Generally shrub plants should take place by autumn 2008 and herbs autumn 2009.
  • Develop list of characteristic species for each veg/community type – late 2007.
  • Develop detailed list of plants for each veg type/community and decide on example sites. This can be done progressively so that some plantings of individual veg types can start in autumn 2008.


  • Block 100 will be the ecosystem garden and other areas will be developed following different themes (e.g. woodland restoration). One them could be plant families and threatened and rare plants and communities. Maybe we could call this the Alex Costin Garden.
  • One issue that we will need to deal with is that the Veg Types are being reviewed and the classification might move from 40 to 100 categories.