GRASSROOTS INPUT TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATES
January 2004: Kachana Pastoral Company comment to Summary Report on
THE GASCOYNE MUSTER II September 2003
We make reference to earlier input:
- Grass roots input to Pastoral Industry Forum, Carnarvon May 2002
- What we so often forget about Australian landscapes January 2003
The report reflects much use of private and public time and funds. There seems to be a genuine effort to be practical about regulation and to make more transparent the tasks of land-managers, lease holders, legislators, government agencies and stake-holders in general.
Many of the actual recommendations, however seem to be reactive responses, and one sometimes is left to wonder if the authors actually knew what they were reacting to.
The fact that little or no reference is accorded to fundamental eco-system functions like:
- Higher solar-energy intake and storage in rangeland environments
- Higher carbon intake and storage in rangeland environments
- The purification of the air and water in rangeland environments
- The capture, retention and then perennially reliable release of water
- Providing for ecological stability at microclimate levels
Making statements that will influence policy and legislation without first conducting a careful assessment of basic eco-system function and dominating trends in our rangelands, is to my mind like: planning a flight in a light aircraft without taking in account air-craft performance, and fuel efficiency.
Cutting-edge technology now available in Australia enables us land-managers at the grass-roots to obtain a better understanding of these issues and what impact our management actions have on them: www.soilfoodweb.com
Available monitoring technology can clearly establish ecological and successional trends. This opportunity is now accessible to government and to the private sector alike. If used accordingly this technology has the potential to prevent much speculation, costly investigative research and environmental journalism at the expense of the citizen.
We cannot of course speak for other regions, but in the Kimberley with few exceptions one can observe a continued environmental deterioration and a lack of effective communication between government bureaucracies and immediate stakeholder parties. Some upper river catchment areas that even supported pastoralism a century ago now have the rainfall retention capabilities of a tiled roof. Meanwhile regional managers in government departments like AGWEST and CALM come (full of enthusiasm and new ideas) and go (frustrated and without tangible positive results to account for). It is for this reason that we are promoting a focus on practical solutions that people can see for themselves.