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Reporting on ‘Carbon’ after a week in the ACT – March 2014

Where to, Australia?

Reporting on Carbon after a week in the ACT

By Chris Henggeler, Kachana Pastoral Company, March 2014


(The empirical evidence of what is stated below has been around for thousands of years. Modern science only began picking it up in the twentieth century. Some of the actual science to substantiate what is stated below only became accessible to the general public towards the beginning of this century.)

Part I







Follow the energy…



Although ‘business as usual’ would lead modern civilisations into the middle of the “perfect storm” so eloquently described by

Allan Savory in his 2013 TED-presentation, there is much we can do.


“We have all the money in the world, but we are running out of time.” A. Savory

Part II        Following the energy


Sunshine drives the weather.

Temperature differentials off land and sea dictate air-flow and weather patterns.


Sunshine is also the fuel that drives biology.

carbon cycle

Photosynthesis provides the energy for just about all life-forms.

Plants deliver food to micro-organisms in the soil.

Animals above the ground help themselves to plants.


Biological processes blended with physical processes produce climate.


When the outcome of one or more of the processes changes, then climate changes.


Photosynthesis is the key to climate; it is also a key to life.





Less photosynthesis leads directly to less health, less life, less wealth.

Part III       The good news


The evidence is out there that effective positive change on the scale required may still be within reach. Realistic and commercially feasible options of how to achieve this are limited. At operational levels there seem to be only three:


(Key Indicator à water quality and water-security)


(Key Indicator à increasing soil-carbon)


(Key Indicator à health and wellbeing)


All three options are about introducing and/or enhancing eco-system function on land surfaces. All three are within Australia’s “circle of influence”.


Viewed from an ecological perspective, we do what it takes to:

Collectively this enhancement of eco-system function begins to stabilise micro-climate and produces a biologically driven buffering effect on weather-events



Building hope, resilience and opportunity into our landscapes!

Part IV      Were we are now




(We call this human-induced process DESERTIFICATION)




With sound landscape-management, we can initiate desirable trends.



Photosynthetic activity would increase and we would begin reversing a whole host of undesirable trends.


(We call this human-induced process REGENERATIVE LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT)



We are at a crossroads. We can choose the way.

Part V       Conclusion


Nature runs on sunshine.

Sunshine drives the weather.

Sunshine drives eco-system function.

Together these two determine climate.


By putting our own house in order first, Australians have the capacity to sustain the level of population needed to justify the levels of infrastructure that we modern humans aspire.

This would also enable us to export a working knowledge of how to live within the means of one’s environments.


(We dare not forget about the challenges of rebuilding of ocean-biodiversity or the curbing of exponential population-growth, but for the moment these two issues remain outside of our immediate influence.)


Nature runs on sunshine.



Humans are consumers.

It is how we consume this century that will dictate the future of humankind.


With each dollar we spend on drink, food and entertainment we cast a vote.


If you are old enough to spend, you are old enough to vote!


She’s alive, she’s beautiful…                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeXdv-uPaw


Post script

From what I saw in Canberra it seems:


It seems the challenge for each of us is to better understand the political “lay of the land” and work on strategies in order to initiate more action at landscape levels.

Each of us needs to identify where we might be most effective.

THANK YOU, Michael & Louisa and Team for organising the Carbon Farming Conference.


Exciting times? Yes.

Interesting times? Yes.

In Northern Australia I believe the horse has bolted. BUT I believe we can still rein him in.

While the sun still shines and while rain still drops out of the sky many strengths & opportunities exist, but also some threats & weaknesses.


One threat I observed whilst in Canberra was potentially conflicting messages (to the public):

Whilst soil-carbon (stable carbon-sinks) has to be the most appropriate key performance indicator for better outcomes for landscapes close to our well-populated centres, this could be distracting from the (in the long-term) more critical issue of national water-security.

In the vast majority of our under-populated and under-managed rangelands, does not the importance of water-quality and water-security (flood and drought-proofing) have to supersede sustainable nutrient-production and –export?

For this to happen we primarily require labile carbon-sinks: Vegetation, mulch and critical masses of managed herbivores.

John Dunnicliff’s model (albeit driven by a production focus) promises to do this on country with cattle-potential. Increasing soil-carbon will be a follow-on result.

(Think of the mobile carbon tied up in an extra 60,000 head of cattle moving through a landscape, think of the increased amount of carbon that has to cycle for this to even be possible, think of the carbon-component of the groundcover [mulch & dung] produced and distributed daily if these animals are managed accordingly. These sort of results can be achieved and measured within months.)

But what about landscapes that are unattractive to the pastoral industry, inaccessible upper-river rainfall-catchment areas, remote recharge areas for aquifers and human water-supplies?

If we focus on primarily rewarding soil-carbon and increased productivity do we risk winning the battles and losing the war?



Chris Henggeler, Kachana Station, Kimberley WA