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Investment Plan for natural resource management within livestock production systems of Australian rangelands
MLA on behalf of industry contributors and government is primarily directed to invest in NRM to protect the resource base on which production is founded and to maintain that natural resource base and biodiversity values. This is undertaken to maintain the social license to use leasehold land for pastoral grazing purposes. There is also a policy advantage as it is considered more expensive, and arguable less effective, except in very specific circumstances, to isolate identified areas of biodiversity value and manage them separately. Benefit is seen in gaining suitable large-scale management of biodiversity values within a production system.
Demonstrating an economic benefit from managing rangeland towards an improved state at individual business level has been an objective of many R, D & E programs over recent decades, but it has been difficult to establish a robust and compelling case. There are no simple and general relationships between range condition, stocking rate and animal production such that a coherent, persuasive argument can be provided to landholders everywhere, that investment in the proper management of natural resources will yield sufficient production benefits.
There is consequently considerable difficulty in delivering programmes to service the multiple dimensions of rangeland management production, natural resource management and social objectives. There is a need to better engage with producers in the production-NRM domain through development of a compelling, economic-focussed value proposition, but also to recognise the tradeoffs between private and public interests in specific situations and the importance of public policy in reconciling these conflicts.
A review of current R, D & E program work relevant to the interaction between productivity and natural resource management indicated a considerable diversity of activity and that most relevant issues are being addressed to some degree. The program proposed was therefore more quantitative than qualitative in nature, aimed at increasing the specificity and precision of the information available to guide and support management decision-making rather than a radical new direction. However, delivery of acceptable technology to producers was constrained by inadequate coordination between activities (duplication, mixed messages etc.), insufficient linkage between productivity and NRM aspects in some mainstream activities, and in several cases, a lack of follow-up reinforcement of the message, and support for practice change.
This Draft R, D & E Plan was developed with the aim of improving both the coordination between all stakeholders in the production-NRM domain, and the content and delivery of products for land managers. It has sought to do so by using a set of guiding principles and objectives that arose from stakeholder consultation. These principles emphasised the interaction between production and NRM outcomes, and the importance of co-ordination and communication in achieving effective and consistent delivery. They include:
Management and coordination would be centrally delivered, with advice obtained via Coordinating Committees, and via regional groups linked to NABRC.
Effective integration across all parties (public and private sectors, NRM and production R, D & E 'communities') should be used to optimise use of scarce resources for rangeland R, D & E and ensure that synergies are achieved between contemporary programs;
Empowerment of the R, D & E system through more effective networking initiatives, regional implementation strategies and greater involvement of women and youth.
Effective internal collaboration, coordination and communication to ensure consistent delivery across all regions and projects.
- Effective external communication and collaboration to ensure that Plan activities are aligned with, and support, other 'third party' activities.
Key opportunities were identified to increase the profitability and productivity of businesses grazing livestock in the extensive native pasturelands in Australia, and the health and productivity of the lands being grazed, these include:
Develop a coherent, well-structured and well supported network of learning opportunities available to all producers;
Incorporate available environmental and economic information into an electronic 'knowledge system' that can provide real-time and predictive information to producers down to paddock scale;
Increase basic ecological understanding across all regions and incorporate this information into progressively improving models of the grazing system;
Determine how biodiversity can be sustained within land allocated for grazing;
- Identify constraints to the implementation of sustainable grazing and potential policy initiatives to reduce them. .
The goal and outcomes of the Plan were ambitious, envisaging over the next 20 years:
A doubling of current levels of profitability (in real terms);
Annual productivity growth reaching two per cent; and
- Measurable improvements in the condition of the land resource.
These ambitious targets were needed if the grazing industries in the rangelands are to survive financially and maintain a social licence to operate.
Delivery of the R, D & E activities involved government and industry funding, and partnerships between organisations such as the Rangeland Alliance, Commonwealth and State Agencies, CSIRO, universities and non-government organisations.
The Draft R, D & E Plan presented in this report envisaged an investment of $25 million1 over 10 years to deliver on these objectives over 20 years.
This page was last updated on 24/07/2017
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