Fractional Cover

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The method used to separate out these parts of the landscape was developed by the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program, a collaboration between state agencies to develop the use of remote sensing in environmental management.

Fractional Cover (FC) is a measurement that splits the landscape into three parts, or fractions; green (leaves, grass, and growing crops), brown (branches, dry grass or hay, and dead leaf litter), and bare ground (soil or rock). DEA uses Fractional Cover to characterise every 25 m square of Australia for any point in time from 1987 to today. This measurement can inform a broad range of natural resource management issues1.

Fractional Cover can provide insights into areas of dry vegetation and bare soil, as well as allowing the mapping of living vegetation extent. For example, by monitoring the proportion of living vegetation and bare ground through time, land managers can determine which parts of their property show heavier grazing or are under-utilised and ensure all of their feed is used. Placing additional water points in the un-grazed areas may help to move livestock into those areas.

1 N. Mueller, A. Lewis, D. Roberts, S. Ring, R. Melrose, J. Sixsmith, L. Lymburner, A. McIntyre, P. Tan, S. Curnow, A. Ip, 2016. Water observations from space: Mapping surface water from 25 years of Landsat imagery across Australia. Remote Sensing of Environment 174, 341-352, ISSN 0034-4257.