Vegetation

Vegetation condition was poor for a second year, along with below-average farming conditions and tree cover

National vegetation condition returned closer to average values: 7% more than the previous year and 4% below the 2000–2010 average.

 

There were strong regional differences: vegetation condition was poorest since at least 2000 in large parts of inland WA and fire-affected areas in southeast Australia. The strongest improvements occurred in the NSW tablelands.

National leaf area index
National average leaf area index

Vegetation growth rates, estimated from weather and satellite data, also returned to normal. Nationally, growth was 21% less than the previous year and 1% below the 2000–2019 average. Growth conditions were the best since 2000 in the NSW wheat belt. Growth conditions were the worst in two decades in parts of inland WA. 

Farming conditions improved considerably compared to the previous year, mainly due to improved conditions in southeast Australia. Vegetation productivity was above average 2000–2019 levels in dryland cropping (+25%) and irrigation (+24%) and close to normal in grazing (+3%).

National vegetation carbon uptake
National average vegetation carbon uptake

Growth conditions were only slightly better than previous year and remained below average 2000-2019 conditions in native and plantation forestry (-9%) and natural environments (-6%). 

Increased water availability led to expanded tree cover. Tree cover, the canopy fraction of vegetation >2 m tall, increased by 13% or 7 Mha from 2019, to 1% below the 2000–2019 average.

National woody vegetation cover faction
National average woody vegetation cover faction

Tree cover increases occurred in northern and most of eastern Australia, expect for the coastal forests affected by bushfires. 

Nationally, net increases occurred on grazing land (+4.9 Mha), in natural environments (+1.1 Mha) and on cropland (+0.7 Mha). Plantation forests suffered a loss of canopy cover equivalent to 46,000 ha.

Change in tree cover percentage from previous year by bioregion.
Change in tree cover percentage from previous year by bioregion.