GRASSROOTS INPUT TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATES
Kachana Pastoral Company input into the West Australian Greenhouse Strategy debate.
Two practical low-tech options are gaining public recognition:
- The reduction of carbon-emissions unrelated to commercial productivity
- Carbon-sequestering in rangeland situations through better biological management of biomass
Particularly in Western Australia, we see a huge opportunity to radically turn around the State's own annual pollution by reducing the amount of regular biomass burning whilst at the same time tying up carbon in soils, grasslands, swamplands and timber.
All this and more can be achieved by simply changing the behaviour of our introduced herding herbivores (cattle, sheep, horses, donkeys, goats, camels, etc). These animals when managed as ecologically functional herds can be used:
- To create very effective low-fuel zones that will not burn readily
- To maintain fire-buffer zones from which (/in which) fire can be controlled
- To push down litter to be returned into the soil by termites and other small organisms
- To prune vast areas of grassland to extend growing periods and thus promote the capture of carbon in roots, shoots and soil micro-organisms
- To push dead vegetation it into swamps thus protecting it from being ignited and exhausted into the atmosphere by fire
- To build up levels of biological succession so that conditions become ideal for natural afforestation
- To maintain grasslands as ongoing carbon-sinks
- To maintain swamplands as carbon reservoirs
- To protect/maintain forest areas as carbon reserves, carbon-sinks
- As “mega faunal carbon-credits”
- As agents to create carbon-credits by a planned capture and retention of carbon in our landscapes
- As biological buffers to reduce the build up of excessive bushfire-fuel loads in high-rainfall years
In a healthy landscape, herds used for such purposes will in many instances prove to be an income-earning asset. Once managed as ecologically functional herds, these animals will not cause environmental damage because animal performance drops before this happens; good management is required to avoid animal-welfare issues in such instances.
If the country is not healthy, we find that animals may become nutritionally stressed at times. An immediate focus on creating carbon-credits rather than one on creating conventionally viable herds leaves scope for immediate financial viability; once again good management is required to avoid animal-welfare issues.
Conventional pastoral income generation is not realistic until the country becomes healthy, however often these costs can be justified by direct savings to the tax-payer:
- Less pest control
- Less high-tech fire control
- Less environmental damage through fire, flooding, erosion and toxic emissions
- Less infra-structure damage by fire and flooding
This sort of work is already being undertaken at property levels in Australia as well as in other countries. Scientific analysis, monitoring and documentation is catching up fast, "teething problems" are becoming better understood and many risks associated with introduced animal species can be avoided.
Please visit the following web-sites for more information on cutting-edge progress in environmental sciences and the skills associated with their implementation:
The costs of not looking at options of this nature tend to be equally spectacular, and can be seen in the phenomenon of "unnatural erosion" or “human induced erosion”:
The role of carbon and how we humans influence the carbon-cycle in our broader landscape settings is a vital facet of “Landscape Management”.