It is important to recognise that there is no one ‘right’ way to manage native vegetation, only a suite of techniques and perspectives. Rather than advocate any one method, this guide sets out to empower readers by directing them to what’s available and ways of interpreting it. You will be prompted to consider the resources in the context of your landscape and ask questions you might not have considered previously. This knowledge base should continue to expand and evolve. Proactive property managers will need to keep abreast of new information, technologies and other developments as part of an adaptive style of management.
There is still a lot of knowledge to be uncovered but while we wait for this, we may need to come up with best-bet guidelines and approaches that can be applied straight away. In many instances, we cannot afford to defer taking action because of the risk of losing the things we are trying to conserve. What’s more, the interconnectedness of native vegetation to other natural resource management issues is very complex and we do not have the resources to investigate and develop a detailed understanding of these linkages and potential solutions in all areas. Given this, there will be an ongoing need to take the lessons from detailed studies carried out in one part of Australia (see Question 4) and apply them elsewhere. We will need to make ‘best bet’ judgments, and learn from both our achievements and mistakes.
Adaptive management is a useful framework to start applying guidelines based on what we currently know, allow our experiences to inform and influence these, and new information to be considered – adapting our management to suit. While many regional and catchment planning bodies have ‘finalised’ plans and investment strategies for natural resource issues like salinity and biodiversity based on the best available information, it will be important to keep abreast of new information and manage native vegetation in an adaptive way. Whether at the property or regional scale, the ‘targets’ being developed shouldn’t be seen as the endpoint, but rather one measure of progress to inform a continuing process of decision-making. It will be important for landholders (and regions) to share information and think beyond the boundaries of their properties and catchments if we are to succeed in addressing threats to our natural resources, .