Frequently Asked Questions
List of questions:
- Are you making any money?
- Do you use WWOOFers (Willing workers on organic farms)?
- What exactly is “holistic management”?
- Why do you not charge for the information you distribute?
- Where does the money come from for what you do out here?
- We have been getting numerous questions about our wild dingoes…
- Cane Toads…
- Question: Is not what you are doing, very labour intensive?…
- ...to be extended... please feel free to if you have any questions.
A: We are not reaping any financial capital, but we are reaping and reinvesting biological capital. Each year this is reflected in an increase in biomass, an increase in the number of plant and animal species that appear.
A: No, not yet. We have no formal dealings with any organisation at this stage, but it is early days yet. We are however working on introducing the concept of three months of “Trans-National Service”. An opportunity for people of any age group to do something concrete for the environment while partaking in an interactive learning experience.
A: We see “holistic management” to be all about emotional, physical and financial energy budgeting in an ecological context. As with pure financial budgeting: the process is more important than the immediate result. (Bear in mind there is a quantum leap involved when going from the holistic approach (big picture view) to managing holistically. http://www.HolisticManagement.org)
A: There are several reasons for that:
- We sell training and a working knowledge, not information… (In fact we try and help people access the type of information that they are after.)There is a big difference between obtaining all the technical information about a particular aircraft and learning to fly the thing… We consider our role to be that of a flight-instructor and we charge for those services; we give away the information pamphlets about the machines we train on…
Besides: - We consider it immoral to patent ideas and knowledge that every land-manager should have.
- The Information Age has provided us with an over-load of information. Information is getting cheaper to access by the day; in fact it is flooding our desks. People who are financially constrained tend to first try the cheap information. There seems little sense in pricing ourselves beyond the reach of our target audience: the hands-on land managers who make the day-to-day decisions that impact the shaping of our natural environments.
A: The start-up capital came from the liquidation of other assets. Our efforts are also subsidised with income from off-farm sources and occasional donations. Energy, time and labour put in by members of the Kachana-Club also reflect money that we do not have to make or find.
Increasingly we will rely on our supporters to spread the word about Environmental Literacy Training on Kachana, other Workshops and Holiday Opportunities on Kachana. Funds derived from these services to the public will support our regenerative land-care commitment. (Public funding of what we do has been negligible to date. This however has it’s reasons: The current focus of public expenditure seems to be on “sustainability”: i.e. sustaining what people are already doing… The Kachana Pastoral Company focus is beyond that: We take sides with voices that say “Sustaining a degraded resource base is not good enough.” Our environmental focus on regenerating the resource base in areas where conventional wisdom has failed.)
6. We have been getting numerous questions about our wild dingoes…
- What do you do about wild dogs?
- Do you lay poisonous baits?
- Did you destroy the dingoes?
- Are the dingoes part of your program of annihilating the weak and the old?
A:We do not shoot or bait our dingoes.
We view dingoes as an introduced predator species that we can use to help manipulate the behaviour of herbivores; especially introduced herding herbivores. Our quest for higher biodiversity includes retaining what species remain in our degraded environments; the challenge is to find a balance that makes good economic sense while applying environmentally, socially and financially sound long-term solutions.
Predator species tend to be close to the top of the “energy pyramid”*. . To us it makes better sense to first add numbers, mass and volume to species at the base of the pyramid than to reduce or remove species from the top; We therefore aim for an increase of life in our soils and an increase of vegetation and habitat to support a higher number of animals at the base of the “energy pyramid” (i.e. we try and increase the energy intake and energy flow at lower trophic levels); this should eventually lead to more balanced populations at the higher end of the “energy pyramid”.
Not taking action against dingoes has been one of the most expensive and telling choices we have made in terms of calf-loss and weight-loss in our population of cattle.
However a change of behaviour in our animals is becoming apparent:
- Mothering ability appears to be improving
- Animals tend to move around in denser groups or in small herds
- We more often observe breeding cows running ‘nurseries’ (while the herd spreads out to feed, small calves remain with an experienced matriarchal cow and one or two heifers)
- The herd will rush and mob together where and when a calf bawls (on one occasion when this happened we were in a position to observe three dogs fly out of the herd with tails between their legs)
We are well aware that it is early days yet and more observation is required before we can even attempt to make definite statements about the above and other new or adapted forms of behaviour that we come across.
Having said all that I also wish to emphasise that we do not encourage dingoes to hang around people or campsites, or to take food from humans. We want them to remain wild. (Half wild animals can be unpredictable and even dangerous.)
Furthermore we do not encourage people who are reliant on income from breeding or meat-export enterprises to experiment with the introduction of predators. There is much more to achieving herd structure, mentality and behaviour than simply introducing predators.
7. Cane Toads:
- Are you concerned about them?
- What do you plan to do?
- What do you think of “toad-busting”?
A:Sorry, but we have no one-liners in store for these three questions.Let us put emotions aside and try and accept that the cane-toad in Australia is a ‘result’. It is a result of human decisions, human actions, the law of succession and human in-action or community inertia… (A simple sequence that brings with it a new dynamic complexity that we now tend to call a ‘problem’… So let us look at the sequence and the result before we tackle the three questions from a Kachana perspective.)
a) Human decisions: Somebody with sufficient influence thought that cane toads in Australia might be a good idea.
b) Human actions: Somebody with money gave the cane-toad a ticket to Australia.
c) The law of succession: “A species will appear when the conditions of establishment are given...” (taken from the Law of Biological Succession)
As well as supplying the ticket, humans too created a niche for this organism in an ecologically unstable situation (a monoculture in tropical conditions…). In an ecological context this was rather like throwing a match at a patch of spilt petrol. Once a fire is lit it tends to use any/all the ‘fuel’ it is fed: dry grass, leaves, twigs, timber, peat, rubber, plastic... and the chances are that it will continue burning as long as it has sufficient ‘fuel’(in this case anything that will burn). Unlike fire (which is a lifeless physical force with no mind of its own), living organisms are biological forces that are driven by genetic programming to survive and propagate… They will go a step further: they actually go and search for the ‘fuel’ that enables them to fulfil this genetic programming. When viewed in this context, the visit to Australia of “Bufo Marinus” (the Cane Toad) was like an open ticket with a blank check…
d) Human in-action: Well perhaps there was some action… however history indicates that there was either not enough of it, or it was not effective enough to send the new migrant home once it became obvious that he had outstayed his welcome…For the ‘result’, simply go and see for yourself unless you are happy with Google.
The actual questions:
Are you concerned about them?
Yes, but our management paradigm places the focus on managing for what we want, rather than focusing on what we do not want…
2002 we began creating frog-ponds, shelterbelts and ‘biodiversity patches’ for small organisms. This compliments and/or enhances our Kachana Islands of Biodiversity. The practical line of thinking goes like this: If somebody is going around ‘king-hitting’ people and you cannot escape, a good strategy is to get as fit and as strong as you possibly can within the time frame at your disposal, and then if you do get assaulted, try and role with the punches… Generally these toads are walking into, and thriving in biologically imbalanced or unstable situations… That is where they create the most havoc…
On Kachana we try and create islands of biological stability that will be unattractive and unwelcoming to party-crashers… we are working on having healthy pockets of living soil, plant and animal communities that can then serve to re-colonise ‘disaster areas’ after the first wave of invaders sweeps past.
We are looking at speeding up a re-colonisation process that has taken place in other areas in tropical Queensland where we eventually see a new balance that includes the cane-toad. Having said that, we believe that with community support more is possible:
- Introducing “cane-toad compost” to vulnerable areas… Such a ‘biological inoculation’ would bring on site the bacteria that can break down the poison produced by the cane toad.
- Introducing sterile toads to vulnerable areas… Would be the next step… I.e. testing the ‘security arrangements’ with a few thugs rather than wait and see if a whole gang will break down the gates or not…
- Experiment with drenching potential predators with the bacteria that can break down the poison
- Coordinate local and other knowledge to discover other proactive possibilities…
At best “toad-busting” will slow down a current process for long enough to find workable solutions in unaffected areas… perhaps even environmentally safe ways to eventually take the toad out of the Australian equation…
At worst “toad-busting” will buy us some time to get our own strategy up to speed whilst supplying us with new knowledge to help mitigate the impact.
According to local reports rapid re-colonisation after the first wave may well be a feasible option…
Our respect and good-luck! to those in the field who are engaged in this frontal-assault strategy. We are thankful for their efforts and the information they are gaining and sharing. We hope community support continues.
Answer: Yes, all intensive care, even if it is environmental restoration, is complex and labour intensive; it always will be.
When we actually do intensive damage-repair it involves much flexibility and being right there where the action is. However once natural healing processes are initiated, it is amazing how simple things become to manage.
Let's not lose sight of what we are trying to achieve on Kachana by being distracted by the activity involved… Intensive care should be about offering immediate aid, stabilisation and cure in order to rescue productive potential.
Kachana offers experiments, demonstrations and study-opportunities on all three facets as well as exploring the fourth step: production.
Aid and stabilisation:
This is where any intensive work takes place. Of course setting up an “Intensive Care Unit” in a remote location or in a “battlefield” (in our case it happens to be a remote ecological battlefield) is also always going to be more costly than setting up in or next to a large city. This cannot be changed and it does not permit us to ignore the challenges confronting us out there in our broader landscape settings.
Restoring productivity or nature’s capability to perform its ecological role of supporting biodiversity is of course what justifies such efforts.
Without fresh air, sufficient good water/moisture, and without appropriate nutrition all biological life is doomed. As humans living in communities we also aspire good health and ‘quality of life’.
This cannot happen unless we also rebuild nature’s capability to decontaminate and purify air, water and soils. All this of course used to take care of itself in healthy functional oceans and landscapes largely beyond our control… but not beyond our influence…
Two hundred years ago our broader landscapes were a largely unexplored source of resources… Only a few decades ago the oceans still seemed to be an infinite source of nutrients… Dysfunction or collapse of natural systems is no longer a matter of academic speculation or debate tabled by fringe groups…
Dysfunction or collapse of natural systems is visibly impacting human health and forcing societies to react…
Once natural healing processes have been initiated in a certain area we actually need to back off. Little work is involved and surveillance becomes more important than active intervention. For this it is important that we learn to “read” what is going on, and that we are in a position to respond in appropriate manner if/when necessary.
Production (Step 4):
In light of new and proven scientific knowledge and given an ever increasing human population, the building of self renewing, life enhancing production models that involve meaningful work make good economic sense. When balance and eco-system function are restored, and everything is in place, the work is easy, rewarding and fun.
Dancing to the tune of nature is something humans learn easily if they are emotionally ready.