Problems in naming and defining the swampy meadow--an Australian perspective.

Abstract

This paper explores the confusing terminology used in the description of a landform characterised by swampy, alluvial valley floors, generally known in Australia as 'swampy meadows'. Swampy meadows were once common in the Australian landscape. Following the impacts of European settlement, such as clearing, grazing, swamp burning and draining, functionally intact systems have become rare in the contemporary landscape. Detrimental affects on swampy meadows are now increasingly being recognised, leading to a need for their restoration and conservation. Confusion over terminology and definitions, however, has hindered our capacity to understand the complex nature of these systems, and to develop appropriate management strategies and policies to protect and restore them. In particular, a multi-disciplinary understanding of their geomorphic processes, hydrology, and ecological form and function is not catered for in any single definition or characterisation that is useful to policy makers and land managers. The paper discusses the repercussions that unclear swampy meadow nomenclature has on ecological understanding, conservation policy, restoration, and land values. It concludes with the construction of a more precise taxonomic definition of the swampy meadow.

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