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R&D for Environment Management of Military Lands

The Department of Defence is committed to maintaining the environmental values of military training areas while achieving its primary objective of providing high quality, effective training for personnel. The integration of these two objectives represents a substantial challenge.

What is R&D for Environmental Management of Military Lands Program

The R&D for Environmental Management of Military Lands Program covered the Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA) near Townsville to develop and contribute to the implementation of a practical and cost-effective environmental management plan for TFTA, and to develop a broader management framework for other training areas in the tropical rangelands.

More than 40 soil associations have been described in the TFTA and their suitability for military activities and likely impacts of use assessed.

Landsat TM images were analysed to measure fire frequency and to detect changes in groundcover. This provided a fire history of the TFTA and the ability to focus on areas which are actively degrading rather than those with past degradation and with evidence of current recovery and stability.

Local-scale impacts of training activities were quantified in terms of soil and vegetation changes. Being measured were the effects of grazing and extensive military use on plant diversity at different landscape positions as well as the effects on water, sediment and nutrient movement in the landscape. Any changes to fine-scale vegetation patterns and woody weed infestations were monitored. In addition, water quality and macro-invertebrate numbers were estimated throughout the year.


A key outcome is the nested approach to ongoing monitoring combining broad-scale remotely sensed data with a network of ground-based transects and point sites. Activities  concentrated on ways to use the information to support decision-making and training of military land managers in the ecological concepts and principles that underlie the decision support tools, and in the use of these tools through formal workshops and informal field days.

Who was involved

Department of Defence and Land & Water Australia

id: 3192 / created: 15 April, 2009 / last updated: 13 August, 2009