Taking Stock - March 2010
“We live in a day of unprecedented solutions because we live in a day of unprecedented problems.
Real solutions always threaten the existing problem-creating status quo.”
(Taken from his ‘must read’ book: Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal – ISBN 978-0-9638109-5-39)
It has been a while since we last posted ‘Kachana News’. From our remote little vantage-point in Australia’s rugged and beautiful North-West we watch with great interest how the world turns.
Some rave about recovery from a global financial crisis, others warn of deepening worldwide depression.
Some talk about global warming, others speculate about global cooling…
Somebody else has already put our prophecy in words:
In the end when all is said and done, more will be said than done.
Meanwhile we try and keep a focus on the practical issues and priorities as we see them. The only true measure of sustainability that we accept is with how much enthusiasm and foresight the next generation is willing to tackle the challenges that confront them.
Two members of our own ‘next generation’ have now left home and are now out there learning about the challenges of the world and broadening their horizons. The focus of activity on Kachana has shifted accordingly: from exploring and demonstrating the potential of Kachana to securing the foundations for sustainable enterprises for when the next generation is ready to commit time and effort into realizing returns on investment.
All the while we must not lose sight of the bigger picture:
the land, the people, the vision and the management…
If we change enough of: to more and more of:
Is it possible that there will be a change of climate?
We cannot prove it, but…
Let us look at the reverse situation. If we change our management and the way in which large animals move around in a landscape:
We can change to look like (Mexico)
We can change to look like (Arizona)
We can change to look like (Zimbabwe)
We can change to look like (Kachana)
In the four examples shown above:
- Would there have been a change in soil temperatures during the day? What about at night?
- In which situations can we capture and store more rainwater? (In the situations on the left hand side or in the situations on the right hand side?)
- In which situations do we find more carbon? Where does that carbon come from?
- Has there been a change in microclimate?
I have had to use some poetic license here because not all the pictures are exact ‘before and after’; however in all four situations the “after” portrays a situation where planned management using 'managed Animal Impact' was used to create an increase in natural wealth. Accordingly each “before” resembles what that very same country would/did look like in the absence of planned management. Photos are taken from a power point presentation produced by Tony Lovell and Bruce Ward; if you have not already seen it you can find it via the following link: http://www.soilcarbon.com.au/case_studies/index.html. Our THANKS go also to Peter Donovan whose website is a valuable source of up-to-date information: www.managingwholes.com
Why the Questions above?
Arguably the most talked about issues in recent months were “carbon” and “climate change”. We offered opinion on these exercises of mass distraction in December 2007.
In short: We observe that many of the hot issues being debated in the media and by our politicians relate to a common root-cause: human induced disruption of eco-system function.
Once eco-system function has been disrupted this leads to a whole host of related symptoms; one of them is the destabilization of highly dynamic weather patterns; others include loss of biodiversity, erosion, disrupted carbon and nutrient cycling, increased flooding, increased droughts; carbon build-up in the atmosphere is also a related symptom; there are more...
This is actually profoundly simple stuff, but very complex and obviously too hard for the average political mind to comprehend. (Simple but complex: A bit like training and then riding a horse… or in this case traumatising a well trained horse and then wondering why its behaviour and responses have changed). Due to the dynamics involved eco-system function (and therefore also climate) is an area where it is nearly impossible for conventional reductionist science to keep up; by the time scientists can agree on one set of statistics, further and new changes render them meaningless.
Thanks to the results we have to show on Kachana we do get the odd bit of media coverage. Matt Brann our local ABC reporter came for a visit April 2009. You can listen to our the interview with Matt if you follow this link: MP3 or WinMedia 28k+
For photos and the write-up visit: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2008/s2573764.htm
Early February 2010 Alex Hyman (also of the ABC) gave us more coverage. Listen in: MP3 |
Thank you Matt and thank you Alex! The media plays an important role. How else can we in the field inform the general public about what is happening in their largely neglected and unexplored back-yard?
This was not the only coverage we got. It seems that Australian politicians and bureaucrats were spared the effects of the ‘Global Financial Crisis’. Without notice the rents of pastoral properties in our region went up by an average of 300%! The sale value of land had gone up in some instances so, in their wisdom, politicians and bureaucrats must have assumed that productivity had gone up accordingly. What in commercial life would be considered to be immoral and unethical seemed to be justified because… Oh I do not want to go on about it, if you are interested in how the political mind works listen to the logic:
Listen to or download this story By Cathy Pryor http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2009/s2725319.htm
“In Western Australia an almighty row has broken out between pastoralists and the body that sets rents for pastoral leases in that state. According to recent calculations by the state's valuer general, some pastoralists will now be faced with substantial fee increases for their leases, in the worst cases up to 500 per cent.
“The first installments of these new payments are due early next week but some pastoralists are saying they will not pay. They argue they should be encouraged to put the money back into their properties to be good custodians of the land, instead of making a bureaucracy fat.
“In this report: Rob Gillam, president of the Pastoralist and Graziers Association; Chris Henggeler, from Kachana Station in the Kimberley; Gary Fenner, valuer general in WA; Brendon Grylls, Lands Minister and Minister for regional development and leader of the Nationals in WA.”
Thank you Cathy!
Cathy had picked up on another interview with Matt a few days earlier.
Rural Report for Kimberley: Wednesday October 21st 2009. By Matt Brann, Kununurra
Matt Brann speaks to Chris Henggeler from Kachana Station about his formal objection to the Valuer General. Listen in: MP3
2009 saw Jacqueline, our daughter Kristina and I partake in a three-month mini-sabbatical.
Thirty years Australia, 24 years Kachana and 22 years of marriage… it was time to take stock…
Our eldest daughter Rebecca looked after Kachana while our son Bob gave our aircraft a face-lift. The three months in Europe were over in no time. We enjoyed quality time with family and friends whilst being based on my brother’s farm in central Switzerland.
Kristina and I also had the chance to visit some arid parts of Portugal. I had hoped for such an opportunity for some time. Photos I had seen and things I had heard had prepared me for the environmental challenges: Springs drying up, poor ground-cover, and fire-danger so much like home…
We were not quite prepared for the beauty of the place and the easygoing way of the people… we felt at home…
The Waser family (still based in Kununurra) like us Henggelers, now too has a next generation at an age where members need to broaden their horizons. Although still a great support for the work we do on Kachana some of the Wasers have their sights set on cooler climes. With extended family in Europe and the older generation losing the urge to travel and the younger generation conquering the world, we in the middle have needed to reassess priorities. The plan is to hold the fort until the next generation is ready to pick up the ball and run with it. Meanwhile we are also trying to free up our time for more travel to visit friends and family. In doing so we also get the chance to see if we can take what we have learned on Kachana to other places.
Dibangombe near the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe continues to bring inspiration to those who visit it. Allan Savory, the man behind the Holistic Management movement has now stepped back from his position at “Holistic Management International” to devote a greater focus on addressing “global climate change” - an issue he had been warning us about long before politicians began debating the subject. The vehicle he has created for the purpose is the “Savory Institute”. People wishing to support Allan’s work at Dibangombe and now in other parts of Africa can find out more by visiting his new web-site: www.savoryinstitute.com
This site also gives access to short videos and presentations on the subject.
Some of you may recall my 'Africa Report' of March 2007; I believe Africa holds the key to new global climatic stability.
While Africa may be the key to global climatic stability we must remember that local and regional climate too, remain largely a function of how we manage our soils and our landscapes. In order to take this message beyond Kachana to other seasonally dry regions we now offer environmental consulting.
One exciting project that we are associated with is the Lachlan Grazing Management Project. Thanks to Phill Diprose of ‘Orchre Arch’ who was successful in sourcing seed-funding we now have ten farmers spread throughout the Lachlan River catchment (west of Sydney) who are prepared to each forfeit five years of yield from a portion of their land in order to discover natural low-tech high-skill ways of boosting productivity in the longer term.
The line of thinking goes somewhat as follows:
If a change of management can bring about the dramatic changes seen in the case studies mentioned above and in others mentioned by Peter Donovan, then surely we can achieve similar turnarounds in other arid parts of the world; it is simply a matter of finding the right blend of local knowledge, new knowledge, local talent, public support and a better frame of reference for decision-making.
The science is already catching up fast. The two questions that need asking are:
- Does the community wish to support projects that will only produce rewards beyond the lifetime of current political terms?
- Will the level of funding be sufficient incentive for the land-managers to take on such challenges on top of their existing workload and financial commitments?
At a future date I hope to be in a position to report on such projects popping up in other parts of Australia, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Southern France, the Middle East and other seasonally dry regions…
But as I touched upon earlier if we wish to sustain human communities and dignified life-styles our next generation will need to see the way…
May the season be kind to you all. A special thanks to all those without whose continued support we ourselves would not see the way…
Until next time,
Chris Henggeler, Kachana, March 2010
"Freedom is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear." - Eric Arthur Blair (a.k.a. George Orwell)