4609.4.55.001 - Land Account: South Australia, Experimental Estimates, 2006 - 2011  
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This release presents the second experimental land account created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in order to demonstrate a method for reporting change in land use, rateable value and land cover. These estimates have been prepared for land based policy analysis. It is the first experimental land account for South Australia (SA) (Figure 1) and the associated Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions. SA contains eight NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray Darling Basin, and South East (Figure 2).

Tables are presented using formats recommended in the United Nations' System of Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA). This publication is experimental, and as such the estimates should be used with caution. Please refer to the Data Quality section in the Explanatory Notes for more information.

Figure 1. Study region - South Australia
Map: Figure 1 Shows Study region - South Australia within Australian map

Figure 2. NRM regions in SA
Map: Figure 2. Shows NRM regions in the SA region


The total rateable value of land in SA has increased from around $159.1 billion to $241.5 billion between June 2006 and June 2011. This covers approximately 98.4 million hectares. Tables 1-4 in the Downloads Tab show changes in land use and rateable value over the 5 year period. The rateable values in this release are consistent with the Australian System of National Accounts, 2013-14 (cat. no. 5204.0), excluding the 'Other' category which is non-rateable land. A considerable proportion of land in the Alinytjara Wilurara and South Australian Arid Lands NRM regions has been suppressed for confidentiality purposes. This is due to the sparse nature of data within these NRM regions.

All land in SA not covered by the cadastre has been categorised as 'Not Classified'. This represents transport easements and gaps within the cadastre in either accounting period. Land area in the 'Not Classified' category decreased by 291,400 hectares from 1,023,500 hectares to 732,100 hectares between 2006 and 2011. This demonstrates the increased coverage of the cadastre or valuations data between the accounting periods. 'Not Classified' is a custom classification not presented in the valuations data and has not been valued in the monetary tables.

Residential land use

'Residential' land was the highest valued land use in the state with a rateable value of $118.3 billion and $183.1 billion in 2006 and 2011 respectively. This increase of $64.8 billion included $2.8 billion of additions, $1.3 billion of reductions and a positive revaluation of $63.3 billion. The greatest changes in 'Residential' rateable value came from the revaluation of land that remained under 'Residential' use ($58.6 billion) and the reclassification of 'Vacant Residential' land to 'Residential' ($4.3 billion).

Despite the high rateable value of 'Residential' land it accounted for less than 1% of the total SA land area in 2006 and 2011. The area of 'Residential' land increased from 201,400 to 218,900 hectares with 28,500 hectares of additions and 10,900 hectares of reductions. The area of ‘Residential’ land expanded over the 5 year period largely at the expense of primary production land uses. Around 64% of net change to Residential land came from 'Livestock Grazing' (5,000 hectares), 'Horticulture Fruit and Vegetable Crops & Horticulture - Special Purpose Structural Improvements' (2,700 hectares), 'Mixed Farming and Grazing' (2,300 hectares), ‘Agriculture Cropping’ (700 hectares) and ‘Other Primary Production’ (500 hectares).

Figures 3 and 4 show the total rateable value and total land area of 'Residential' land use for each NRM region. These show that all NRM regions within SA have experienced a net increase in 'Residential' rateable value and land area over the accounting period. The changes were dominated by the 'Residential' land in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty NRM which accounted for 67% ($106 billion) of all rateable value in 2006 and 68% ($164 billion) in 2011.

Graph Image for Figure 3 Area of Residential land by NRM region

Graph Image for Figure 4 Rateable Value of Residential land by NRM region

Livestock Grazing land use

'Livestock Grazing' is the most extensive land use type in SA. Over the accounting period this land use experienced a net increase of 242,800 hectares from 59.0 million hectares to 59.2 million hectares. This included 540,800 hectares of additions and 298,000 hectares of reductions. The rateable value of land classified as 'Livestock Grazing' reported a net increase of $1.6 billion from $7.7 billion to $9.3 billion. This included $136 million of additions, $297 million of reductions and a positive revaluation of $1.8 billion. The South Australian Arid Lands NRM region dominated the total area of 'Livestock Grazing'. This included 42.7 million hectares in 2006 and 42.9 million hectares in 2011 which represented around 72% of all 'Livestock Grazing' in the state in both accounting periods.

Extractive Industry and Infrastructure/Utilities land use

At the state level land used for 'Extractive Industry and Infrastructure/Utilities' showed the greatest percentage change in rateable value with an increase of 104% ($560 million to $1.1 billion) between 2006 and 2011. This included $92.2 million of additions, $71.0 million of reductions and a positive revaluation of $560.8 million. These changes were accompanied by a net increase in area of 18,800 hectares, from 148,100 to 166,900 hectares between 2006 and 2011. The largest net change by area was 17,600 hectares moving from 'Not Classified' to 'Extractive Industry and Infrastructure/Utilities'. The largest rateable value of 'Extractive Industry and Infrastructure/Utilities' land ($476.4 million) was found in Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges. South Australian Arid Lands had the greatest area of land classified in this category with 37% (54,200 hectares) and 42% (69,500 hectares) of the state total in 2006 and 2011 respectively.

Graph Image for Figure 5 Rateable Value of Extractive Industry and Infrastructure Utilities by NRM region

National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves land use

The 'National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves' land use type was the second largest land use category by area in SA, with 19.5 million hectares in 2006 and 19.6 million hectares in 2011. This land use experienced 283,400 hectares of additions and 104,800 hectares of reductions over the accounting period. The largest net increase (118,100 hectares) to 'National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves' land area was from 'Not Classified', with the majority of this change occurring in the South Australian Arid Lands. Other large net changes also occurred, with an increase of 106,400 hectares from 'Livestock Grazing' and a decrease of 53,100 hectares to 'Community Services & Sports, Heritage and Culture'.

The rateable value of 'National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves' grew from $67.1 million to $105.8 between 2006 and 2011. This included $72.0 million in additions, $17.9 million in reductions and a negative revaluation of $15.4 million. Despite the overall increase in value of this land use, 'National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves' was the only land use type which showed a negative revaluation in rateable value at state level. The ‘National Parks, Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves’ category includes a variety of SA land uses classes such as wooded areas, water areas, steep or rocky land and reserves. Not all uses in this category include a rateable value.

Graph Image for Figure 6 Area of National Parks,Conservation Areas,Forest Reserves and Natural Water Reserves by NRM region


Tables 5 and 6 in the Downloads Tab present changes in land cover between the two year windows, January 2005 to December 2006 and January 2010 to December 2011. The rate at which land cover changes is slow and the Dynamic Land Cover Dataset (DLCD) V2 beta dataset remains in a testing phase. As such, the information should be interpreted cautiously and with reference to the data custodians, Geoscience Australia (GA).

Changes in land cover have many potential drivers, including human activities and natural phenomena. The DLCD data presented here summarises many observations of the Earth's surface to provide a single dominant land cover class for each of the two year periods selected. There will be some level of land cover change within and between each two year layer of DLCD caused by various drivers. This intra-period and inter-period variation should be considered when interpreting the changes reported between the two accounting periods. Examples of human activities that drive land cover change include urban development, crop and pasture management and industrial activity. Natural drivers of land cover change include flood events, bushfires and seasonal climatic variation. Attribution of specific causes to observed land cover change requires additional information.

Shrubs and grasses - Sparse to scattered land cover

For the 2005-06 period 'Shrubs and grasses - Sparse to scattered' accounted for around 60.6 million hectares or 62% of all land cover within SA, followed by 'Shrubs - Open' with 7.4 million hectares or 8% and 'Shrubs - Closed' with 6.0 million hectares or 6%. Between 2005-06 and 2010-11 'Shrubs and grasses - Sparse to scattered' also showed the greatest change with a net decrease of 12.3 million hectares to a total of 48.3 million hectares. This included 4.2 million hectares of additions and 16.5 million hectares of reductions. This net change was largely driven by an increase to 'Hummock Grasses – Open' of 5.6 million hectares. The largest area of 'Shrubs and grasses - Sparse to scattered' was found in the South Australian Arid Lands NRM region, which contained 40.7 million hectares in 2005-06 and 30.8 million hectares in 2010-11. This accounted for 67% and 64% of this land cover type in SA respectively.

Pasture and cropping land cover

The 'Rainfed Pasture' land cover represented 1.8 million hectares, or 2% of all land cover in SA in 2005-06. This increased to 2.2 million hectares in 2010-11 with a net change of 462,400 hectares (or 26%). This included 618,800 hectares of additions and 156,400 hectares of reductions. The largest change in land area was a net increase of 239,500 hectares from 'Rainfed Cropping'. The South East NRM region reported the largest net increase of 324,400 hectares.

Overall, 'Irrigated Pasture' increased by 25,400 hectares or 38% from 66,100 hectares to 91,500 hectares. This included 38,900 hectares of additions and 13,500 hectares of reductions. The majority of these changes to 'Irrigated Pasture' were a result of net increases from 'Irrigated Cropping' (15,100 hectares) and 'Rainfed Pasture' (8,200 hectares). South East was the NRM region with the greatest net increase of 'Irrigated Pasture', with 15,200 hectares.

Graph Image for Figure 7 Area of Rainfed pasture by NRM region

Graph Image for Figure 8 Area of Irrigated pasture by NRM region

'Rainfed Cropping' land cover decreased by 309,900 hectares or 5% from 5.8 million hectares to 5.5 million hectares. This included 97,100 hectares of additions and 407,000 hectares of reductions. The reductions in 'Rainfed Cropping' were largely driven by net decreases to 'Rainfed Pasture' (239,500 hectares) and 'Trees - Sparse' (47,100 hectares). The Eyre Peninsula NRM region contained the largest area of 'Rainfed Cropping' with just under 40% of the state total in both accounting periods. The South Australian Arid Lands NRM region was the only NRM reporting a net increase in 'Rainfed Cropping' (600 hectares). The largest net decrease in 'Rainfed Cropping' was reported for the South East NRM region (174,900 hectares).

'Irrigated Cropping' showed a decrease of 5,900 hectares or 12% from 50,700 hectares to 44,800 hectares over the two accounting periods. This included 24,600 hectares of additions and 30,500 hectares of reductions. The most significant changes included a net decrease to 'Irrigated Pasture' (15,100 hectares) and a net increase from 'Rainfed Cropping' (10,300 hectares). Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges reported the largest net change for 'Irrigated Cropping', with a net decrease of 3,900 hectares.

Graph Image for Figure 9 Area of Rainfed cropping by NRM region

Graph Image for Figure 10 Area of Irrigated cropping by NRM region


Table 1 provides an example of how land use and land cover data can be combined and presented as a time-series. This example focuses on a single land use, 'Livestock Grazing'. Table 1 summarises all the land covers present on land classified as 'Livestock Grazing' in SA for 2006 and 2011. The integration enables more focused analysis of specific land types that may be of interest to land managers and policy makers.

Table 1: Livestock Grazing land use by land cover

Land useLand Cover
Area 2006
Area 2011
Area Change
Percentage Change

Livestock GrazingCultivated and managed land - irrigated
57 800
64 000
6 300
Livestock GrazingCultivated and managed land - rainfed
1 611 300
1 766 100
154 800
Livestock GrazingHerbaceous
49 459 000
46 995 000
-2 464 000
Livestock GrazingMarine Water
2 100
2 200
Livestock GrazingPrimarily non-vegetated - aquatic or regularly flooded
909 200
1 163 200
254 000
Livestock GrazingPrimarily non-vegetated - terrestrial
3 700
4 000
Livestock GrazingWetlands
75 600
289 800
214 300
Livestock GrazingWoody-Shrubs
4 936 300
6 736 000
1 799 700
Livestock GrazingWoody-trees
1 900 000
2 177 300
277 300

Total South Australia
58 954 900
59 197 700
242 700

Note: Sums may not necessarily equal totals due to rounding. All values have been rounded to the nearest hundred (hectares).

Table 1 shows a slight overall increase in 'Livestock Grazing' in SA from 59.0 million hectares in 2006 to 59.2 million hectares in 2011. 'Herbaceous' vegetation was the most abundant land cover type found on 'Livestock Grazing' land with an area of 49.5 million hectares and 47.0 million hectares in 2006 and 2011 respectively. 'Herbaceous' vegetation reported the greatest change in area with a decrease of 2.5 million hectares or 5%. All other land cover types increased over the accounting period. 'Wetlands' showed the greatest percentage increase (with 284% or 214,300 hectares) followed by 'Woody-Shrubs' (with 36% or 1,799,700 hectares).

A small difference exists between the 'Livestock Grazing' land area reported in the land use tables (for example, Table 2 in the downloads tab) and land use by land cover table above. This is caused by the different methods used to produce these tables as described in the Explanatory Notes.