Landscape Management Workshop 2005
Wrap Up Sessions: Summary
“We have the tools to begin the job of building a bright and meaningful future in currently unproductive or degraded landscapes...
“However it will only happen when the community will is there to support such activities...”
Such is a central message in:
It is also a message we deliver at all Kachana Workshops where visitors get to see and experience for themselves the rewarding results of low-tech approaches to some of modern society's greatest challenges...
Kachana Pastoral Company now prides itself in being able to tap into the experience of a third generation of “high density-low duration animal management” for the purpose of enhancing the vitality and productivity of our landscapes...
We believe there is a bright and meaningful future in reinventing the ecological function of “Pastoralism” and our 2005 Workshop did much to support this notion...
On arrival at Kachana participants listed topics they would like to see covered during the workshop:
- Relevance of this information to cities
- Biological inoculations
- Upper-river rainfall-catchment
- Flood events: cause; preventative measures
- Cattle: production unit, land-management tool or exotic pest
- Fire control: safe low tech options
- Interaction introduced and native species
- Cattle and their compatibility with native animals
Over the next three days these and other topics were looked at... however our workshops do not stop with the departure of participants...
Landscapes should be dynamic living systems, as landscape health changes, challenges change accordingly...
If there are finer points to a particular topic that need to be readdressed, please send a private or a group email in this regard.
Next are points listed during discussion-sessions that may serve as revision for the 2005 Workshop participants:
- Amount of soil loss
- Impact of management +/-
- Good intentions alone do not guarantee good results
- How fragile the environment is here
- Disparity in resource distribution
- Opportunities to direct movement
- Applying right "pressure" how and when
- What happens here effects everyone
- Lack of accountability
- Self interest $
- Young farmer involvements
- Simplicity of fencing
- Potential to capture sunlight energy
- “Moon walking” (the charred landscape after the wild-fire)
- Loss of “native environments”: The challenge for remaining native species having to survive in "new" environments that are vastly different to what was here 200 years ago
- Organic matter presence vs. difference
- Water holding capacity from organic matter
- Rate of development of humus
- Health of Kachana soils vs. Nth Tablelands soils in NSW
- Impact of many small changes: E.g. being able to shift a stream without a dozer
- Soil compaction: "time" is the issue rather than "animal-numbers"
- Cattle as a tool to stop erosion
- Simple demonstrations of principles of land management
- Plants and animals require much energy to produce toxins so they try and use them efficiently
- “Nine to five” (Kachana Workshop Participant Sleep Patterns: 21:00 to 05:00)
- Working with nature:
- Resisting the urge to treat the symptom, e.g. letting the spiders take care of the ticks
- Change routine for animals, break patterns
- Fire demonstration - “ranges to rooftops” (Rain-water runs off faster instead of being trapped and retained in sponges and wetlands to feed perennial stream-flow)
- Increasing capture of sunlight energy
- Improving soil health without importing products; Soil can be built on site
- Using animals to transfer nutrients
- Natural selection: This should predominantly be the selection within a species for the most suitable traits to survive under prevailing conditions. (If species compete against each other, this tends to indicate an imbalance at the eco-system function level.)
- Importance of buffer zones
- The need for defined regional landscape goals
- Need to establish a regional strategy for fire
- Open space technology
- The BOHICA curve
- Change demonstration...
- A little change is easy
- A lot of change is harder
- Given the chance most will revert back to the situation that existed before the change
- What is biodiversity? Peoples' understanding is at different levels...
- Biodiversity includes:
- Number of species
- Number of populations
- Critical size of populations
- Age structure of populations
- Genetic diversity within a species
- Structural diversity and probably a whole lot more... we can simply view Biodiversity to be the Motor that runs activity on our biosphere using sunshine as fuel and water as a lubricant...
- Diversity of management
- Diversity of environments in the Kachana landscape-goal
- How to apply / coordinate this over a wide area
- Complex vs. complicated issues
- Locusts moving through landscape (pruning, fertilizing and mulching whilst defoliating stressed plants of inferior nutritional value?)
- Millennium Project - sponsorship
- Biological capital leads to social capital
- Overgrazing like fire will affect individual after individual... We lose the function of a species in a landscape long before the species becomes displaced or extinct
Kachana Pastoral Company Message:
Although much of what we see may be of industry relevance, when we look at a broader landscape we should do so as taxpayers as voters, as parents or grandparents looking into the future...
- What should this area look like?
- What could this area look like given existing local knowledge and existing expenditures?
- What do we want to see here in 100 years time?
- What is being done about achieving this and what are the results we can see?
- Who is making the decisions here? Do these people have a personal vested interest, mandate or agenda?
- Who is influencing change here?
- Who is accountable in this situation?
- Who will live with the consequences of what takes place here?
Kachana Landscape Management Principles:
The three rules for Land Managers:
- Stay in the game
- Get to know the rules
- Get better at the game
The name of the game: Environmental Capitalism
The object of the game: Learn to make your natural asset-base productive and then learn to live off the interest it generates; teach your successors to do likewise...
- When I stop working: Assets feed me
- True sustainability hinges on the actions of the next generation...)
Kachana Landscape Management Guidelines
“Work with nature”
Observe the patterns, identify and then work with the forces:
- Political forces
- Biological forces (below, on and above the ground)
- Seasonal change
- Physical forces like Wind, Drought, Fire and Flood
- Allow for the probability that there may be other forces that we are unaware of...
(Information that saves you time and money is the closest you ever get to "buying time".)
Some Practical Landscape Management Maxims and Guidelines
“Biology runs on sunshine”
- Let biology do as much of the work as possible
- Aim for more effective eco-system-function
- Increase the Energy Intake
- Increase the Energy Flow
- Increase Water Capture
- Increase Water Cycling
- Increase Nutrient Release
- Increase Nutrient Cycling
- Trade “tight control” for “effective influence”
- Set clear Landscape Goals in terms of eco-system-function and manage in reference to these goals... (include: “Health”; “Diversity”; “Flexibility”)
- Manage the Mega-Fauna:
- What are they doing now?
- What should they be doing?
- What could they be doing?
- Disturbance is natural:
- Be proactive in your response to disturbance you cannot control
- Be proactive with disturbance you can “control”: us it to influence your landscape in a positive manner
- Use Mega-Fauna as a controlled Biological Storm...
- Do not trade off “effectiveness” for “efficiency”
- Accept change and learn to compromise and to adapt...
- Management should not be species-specific...
- Always bear in mind the relationship between: Soil, plants & animals
- “How should this particular motor run?”
- Break parasite cycles
- Encourage biodiversity
- Monitor: (use soil-building and water-quality as a key indicators)
- Growing season
- Reliability of stream-flow and other water sources
- Ask the four questions to find: Question Number Five
- How much energy is entering the equation and what is the “flow-pattern”?
- How much of the last rain did I capture and what is the “flow-pattern”?
- What is the flow pattern of available minerals?
- Who is cycling the carbon? How?
After a field-walk to the fragile little rain-forest that was spared by the recent wild-fire everybody in the group agreed that some natural assets are worth managing even if there is no quantifiable financial gain involved.
Discussion quickly homed in on the obvious: How do we protect this and other areas of undisputable heritage value from the next fire?
We used this example to demonstrate how existing legislation paved the way to conflict and how easy it would be to end up with much time, money and effort spent on getting no out-come in the field where it was most needed.
Remaining time was then spent on demonstrating how we could make use of the Holistic Management process to formulate a landscape goal that would benefit not only parties that were currently in conflict, but that would also further the interests of down-stream communities.
Dr Judi Earl initiated the exercise by briefly outlining Holistic Management Goal-Setting
Whilst listing the Decision-makers (people who had the power to veto decisions made on the ground) we ran into an endless list of bureaucracies each with particular technical expertise or responsibilities related to some administrative field or other...
In fact we simply had many "more chiefs than Indians" as the saying goes...
To locals and to visitors alike it became quite apparent that decisions affecting the future of the land we had been flying and walking over for the last three days were primarily made by people who had little or no direct vested interest in the health and productivity of the region let alone the managerial experience to proscribe and implement the management actions required on the ground. It was however equally clear that the expertise and the information that these bureaucracies had access to were important for enabling better decisions to be made...
In only a few minutes of orderly discussion facilitated by Dr Judi Earl, the Holistic Management process had alerted us as a group to the nature of social constraints that impact natural resource management in the region. Differing and opposing views were aired to illuminate different aspects of the challenges at hand... as a group we recognized that the region was not yet ready to effectively address these immediate challenges...
Time was up and much was left unsaid or still hanging in the air...
The conclusion of this workshop surpassed all expectations:
Within three weeks members of the group had canvassed, discussed, formulated and submitted an application for federal funds to establish and run the first four of several "Kan-do Educational Tools" throughout Australia. Two in Western Australia, one in the Northern Territory and one in New South Whales...
Though it was not specifically formulated, it was recognized that as landscape managers we would need to produce the sort of positive results that would be obvious to the general public before we would be in a position to address the flaws in the system of governance.
The idea of the "Kan-do Educational Tool" is evolving accordingly; please visit the project web-page for more information on this...
Participants were also asked a few formal questions... mainly to help organizers produce an even better experience for next time... We thank participants for their valuable and encouraging feedback...
Highlights that were listed included:
- Enjoyable group of people
- Finding out about impact of continuous fire
- The amount I learnt about soil and the use of animals
- The practical application of what was more theory for me before
- The mix between theory and practical
- To see what is possible with hard work and good management
- The networking with like minded people
- The overlapping of management in things like Bud Williams, Lamb Jaghten
- Powerfulness of the tool of rest
- See cattle being moved
- “Back to basics” workshop approach; examples shows and lived
- Diversity of ongoing trials
- Diversity of landscape
- The discussions and “development” of a regional fire strategy (sad we couldn't finish it)
- The fire demonstration
- The walks
- More shade
Chris' comment: A number of participants picked up on this...
If I drove the message home a little too hard, please forgive me; but I had a “captive audience” and wished for first-hand appreciation of how readily micro-climate is influenced by human actions:
The human ignorance and negligence that leads to thousands of square kilometers of Northern Australia being burned out each year is grossly underestimated by members of our community, as are the consequences...
I wanted people gain a little appreciation of what it may really be like for a small plant or animal to be without protection from the sun for up to three months at a time... We found it most uncomfortable after only a few minutes of standing in the sun in a charred landscape devoid of groundcover and tree canopies...Even despite the water we carried along...
Which five people will you tell about this workshop?
The theme for the 2006 Kachana Landscape Management Workshop will be:
“Healthy Landscapes, healthy people”
Which two people would you like to see here next year to listen to Patty Martin who launched “Safe Food and Fertilizer”?
The responses included:
- My spouse
- Rangelands Researcher
- Young member
- An Aboriginal
- Land-care coordinators
- Minister for environment or DPC
- Ag ministers Fed and State
- Educators of university students; etc.
- Environmental decision makers
Patricia Anne Martin
Safe Food and Fertilizer
617 H St. SW
Quincy, WA 98848
Safe Food and Fertilizer is a project of Earth Island. Please let us know if you have trouble accessing the web-site.