Pasture Degradation and Recovery in Australia's Rangelands: Learning from History

Page: /

Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
May 2004
ISBN 1 920920 55 2

Download Pasture Degradation and Recovery in Australia's Rangelands: Learning from History (PDF, 12MB)

Edited by
Greg McKeon, Wayne Hall, Beverley Henry, Grant Stone and Ian Watson

A Reviewer's Pick

excerpt from page 172

The extended drought periods in each degradation episode have provided a test of the capacity of grazing systems (i.e. land, plants, animals, humans and social structure) to handle stress. Evidence that degradation was already occurring was identified prior to the extended drought sequences. The sequence of dry years, ranging from two to eight years, exposed and/or amplified the degradation processes. The unequivocal evidence was provided by: (a) the physical 'horror' of bare landscapes, erosion scalds and gullies and dust storms; (b) the biological devastation of woody weeds and animal suffering/deaths or forced sales; and (c) the financial and emotional plight of graziers and their families due to reduced production in some cases leading to abandonment of properties or, sadly, deaths (e.g. McDonald 1991, Ker Conway 1989).

We conclude from this study that there are four components necessary to prevent degradation of the grazing resource:

  1. a commitment of graziers to manage stock (and fire), against a background of high climate variability, to prevent degradation of the perennial pasture resource;
  2. government policies which facilitate and value graziers' actions in moving to more sustainable grazing systems;
  3. an alert system based on climatic understanding, ecosystem response and resource monitoring which provides warning before damage occurs rather than a retrospective analysis after the event; and
  4. financial systems that allow graziers to maintain cash flow during drought and support management actions aiding pasture resource recovery after drought.
Last updated: 14 June 2023