Private property accounts for much of the planets arable land, and most of this has been cleared for agricultural production. Agricultural areas retain only fragments of their original vegetation and this has been detrimental to many native plant and animal species. Habitat restoration and revegetation may be able to reconnect and enlarge existing remnant areas in agricultural landscapes and, thereby, enhance native plant and animal communities. However, conservation initiatives will be successful only if landowners actively participate in restoration actions. This study used four hundred postal questionnaires to assess the degree to which landowners in two regions of south-eastern Australia adopt restoration activities, their opinions regarding remnant and revegetated land and their management actions in these areas. One hundred and seventy nine completed questionnaires were received. Three quarters of respondents had undertaken restoration on their property or were planning to revegetate in the future. Landcare members were most likely to have previously revegetated and future revegetation intentions were best predicted by previous restoration activities and a primary income source that was off-farm. Landowners were more likely to manage restored and remnant areas if they perceived threats such as weeds, pest animals and fire risk would be detrimental to their property, than to enhance environmental outcomes. These results indicate that landowners are interested in restoring natural areas, but without greater assistance to restore ground layers and manage perceived threats posed by fire and invasive plants and animals, restoration actions will not have their desired biodiversity benefits.
Human perception of plant leaf and flower colour can influence species management. Colour and colour contrast may influence the detectability of invasive or rare species during surveys. Quantitative, repeatable measures of plant colour are required for comparison across studies and generalisation across species. We present a standard method for measuring plant leaf and flower colour traits using images taken with digital cameras. We demonstrate the method by quantifying the colour of and colour difference between the flowers of eleven grassland species near Falls Creek, Australia, as part of an invasive species detection experiment. The reliability of the method was tested by measuring the leaf colour of five residential garden shrub species in Ballarat, Australia using five different types of digital camera. Flowers and leaves had overlapping but distinct colour distributions. Calculated colour differences corresponded well with qualitative comparisons. Estimates of proportional cover of yellow flowers identified using colour measurements correlated well with estimates obtained by measuring and counting individual flowers. Digital SLR and mirrorless cameras were superior to phone cameras and point-and-shoot cameras for producing reliable measurements, particularly under variable lighting conditions. The analysis of digital images taken with digital cameras is a practicable method for quantifying plant flower and leaf colour in the field or lab. Quantitative, repeatable measurements allow for comparisons between species and generalisations across species and studies. This allows plant colour to be related to human perception and preferences and, ultimately, species management.
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