GRASSROOTS INPUT TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATES
Letter to the Editor
Regarding savanna health(Savanna Links Issue 12) is it not time that we as a region/nation officially recognise and acknowledge that “political science” (politically correct science) is one of the most obvious constraints in our productivity as a region/nation?
“Functional science” (where cause and result can be correlated = what actually works) indicates:
- Most Australian environments have not been intact since the extinction of the mega-fauna many thousands of years ago. (There is increasing indication that the demise of some 94 per cent of Australia’s mega-fauna, mostly herbivores, is related to the arrival of the first humans on this continent.)
- We inherited a continent fashioned by human management: a product of fire-climax management through millennia, that shaped an environment that could, by all accounts, barely sustain half a million humans; an environment that was and still is biologically unhealthy. (Fire did absolutely nothing to conserve biomass. Biomass is a vital facet of biodiversity. Biodiversity underpins any functioning economy. This is not saying that there is no role for fire.)
- Fire cannot and will not replace the role that our lost herbivores played in maintaining and buildingbiologically healthy landscapes. (If environmental health is a desirable situation we only have existingherbivores to fulfill the functions that nature prescribes. Currently only hands-on land managers are in a position to influence the movement of these animals in a way where the result mimics what nature achieved in the first place.)
- There are cost-effective options to manage terrestrial environments in such a manner that biodiversity is built and not lost. (One may only hope the same for aquatic environments)
It is interesting to observe how the challenges of the land manager change over time. These changes can be directly related to the size of human populations.
- Step 1 Nomadic communities: From a range of environments, harvest enough to sustain one’s “clan”.
- Step 2 Agriculture-based communities: Manage the immediate environment to sustain human activity.
- Step 3 As trade became more sophisticated: With “improving” technology manage the immediate environment and other environments to sustain human and animal communities that had begun to divorce themselves from natural biological and ecological processes and realities. They also had to extract a surplus to sustain their family. This invariably led to...
- Step 4 Big city energy and nutrient sinks all over the planet at the expense of the wealth of the areas where extraction occurs. Only now, at ever increasing costs (biological, social and financial), there is ever more powerful technology available, more regulation, a self perpetuating pile of paperwork and the task of managing for environmental health while land managers are being told that they are the ones responsible for the destruction occurring around us.
Just as the work of the man on the land enabled humans to take Step 1 to Step 2, and later Step 2 to Step 3, I feel the onus will be on the hands-on land managers to come up with practical solutions to educate city people and somehow bring them and most of our leaders back to planet earth in a way that is ecologically acceptable.
In conclusion I wish to take side with voices that have been trying to tell us that in relation to the productivity of our rural areas “sustainability” is a non-goal. It is NON-SENSE to even contemplate to sustain a vastly degraded production base. I share the opinion of people like Dr. Christine Jones, that we desperately need to rebuild, regenerate or perhaps even build biological foundations that have not yet existed on this continent.
The only people currently in a position to implement these needs are active land managers. (That includes fishers, foresters etc. but it does not exclude members from any sector of the public who wish to have a go at it.) They will need maximum community support. Firstly and foremost, they need to be given an incentive.