Some of our news this week is we have updated our web site with
more material on global warming, property rights & environmental myths.
E-magazine no 4 went out this week to most of Australia`s politicians &
others. It featured material from our web site such as the Claphams (NSW)
water rights injustice, an interview with Merv Schwarz, (Qld) and some of
Bill Burrows address on tree increase (thickening) in Qld and other parts of
the world, as well as past material from News & views.
In this edition of News & views we have
(1) comments from Kathryn Varrica (Community Landowners Environment Group) NSW
(2) South East Qld Strategy could impinge on landholders rights & livelihoods
(3) Ian Mott comments on the Statutory Theft article from last week
(4) National Parks (NSW) defends Native Vegetation strategy
(5) Native Vegetation needs management not locking up - (new NSW research)
(6) Fiveways Landcare group (NSW) gets active on vegetation planning which
will challenge the NSW govt process which has stalled
(7) A national approach to firewood collection
(8) Original Landcare architect says movement will evolve - there is no
(9) Tasmania's Natural Resource Management
(10) Jenny Blake (1993 Vic Landcare awrd winner) suggests Australia wide
conference on environmental outcomes via incentives to landholders.
(11) More info on Global warming
(12) Discussion point - comments from Bill Soko (Daintree Rainforest
(13) Grazing and Animal impact - article from our web site
(1) From Kathryn Varrica (NSW)
I am Kathryn Varrica a landholder adversely affected by government
legislation, interpretation, implementation etc..., it's a long & involved
story. Local landholders have formed a group to help in assisting landholders
with environmental issues & represent landholders to government authorities
but mostly to look out for & look after landowners (eroding) rights.
Our group is incorporated, represents some 100 landowners & is called
CLEG(Community Landowners Environment Group) of Hallidays Point. We're on the
Mid-north coast of NSW between Forster & Taree.
We are seeking to network with other groups with a view to possible
affiliation but to at least gain insight into how others in similar
circumstances are coping & suggestions as to what can be done as the fight we
have been forced to participate in is frustrating & very draining of
resources. I'm hoping that maybe by networking with others, that we may
become stronger & better positioned to continue in what has become an unfair,
unaustralian, inequitable situation for landholders.
I would appreciate any information on other groups that you could give & also
receiving the "News & Views" even back issues as I found it very helpful.
Thanks & Regards,
(2) Mary Lou Gittins (Kilcoy Landcare Qld) sent us a copy of a SE Qld
strategy which has at least two statements in it that will concern
landholders - They relate to
(1) Areas of high conservation and biodiversity values on private holdings
(2) Cultural Heritage
either of which look like impinging on landholders severely.
Mary Lou says
It really needs farmers feed back.
Has a potential to impact on the future of agriculture.
contact MaryLou Gittins for an email copy
5424 D'Aguilar Hw
Kilcoy Qld 4515
Ian Mott (Aust Forest Growers) Qld
(3) comments on the Statutory Theft article last week - (13/8/01)
The tests for reasonableness of regulations that are well established in US
law have also been clarified in the Maroochy Shire Council v Barns. You will
that the ruling identified any material change in the scale or intensity of
an activity within a lawful use to be "development" under the Qld Integrated
Planning Act 1997.
To date, this has only been considered for its impact on farmers who can now
be drawn into the development process (with new conditions) for any non
routine variance in activity.
But this ruling also has implications for would be regulators, especially in
Qld & NSW that we know to have statutory mechanisms for assessing regulatory
impacts. It would appear that if a regulation has the effect of producing a
material change (reduction) in the scale and intensity of the activities
that have normally been associated with a lawful use, then that regulation
operates as a compulsory development. And if it is, in fact, development,
then the relevant compensation provisions under planning legislation may be
One feels bound to comment, "what a terrible, tangled web they weave ....".
News from ABC radio
(4) National Parks defends Native Vegetation strategy
The NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service defends its position on the Native
Veg Debate. National Parks is one of the key players in the evolution of
Statewide vegetation and land clearing policies, with a representative on
every Regional Vegetation Committee in the State. National Parks reps have
been targeted for being unwilling to compromise and for stalling progress on
these Regional Plans, that will determine land-use everywhere in NSW west of
the Great Dividing Range. But the National Parks Western Regional Director,
Terry Korn, defends his staff and the so-called "30-40-30 split-up" thats
being argued for.
(* The 30-40-30 split means
30% of each property becomes locked up conservation areas,
40% becomes some grazing but no vegetation reduction allowed, and
the remaining 30% is for farming / grazing -
The Fiveways landcare group and many others are fighting against this
approach saying not only is the 70% conservation level injust (i.e 55%
"public good" conservation ), but it will cause environmental damage as well.)
Also from ABC radio
(5) Native Vegetation needs management not locking up
New research in Western NSW has found that locking up country can be
detrimental to native grass regeneration. Dr Alison Bowman, from the Trangie
Agricultural Research Centre, has found that putting up barriers around
grasslands, leads to a general decline in the diversity of plant species and
(* On the same issue, in 1999, Leon & Jane Ashby made comments in the Central
Western Newsletter (Qld) that a plot of Mitchell grass downs land locked up
by the Ilfracombe (Qld) landcare group had degenerated over 8 years. This was
observed by many landcare people in the district. Some of the Government
people working in Land management positions disputed the idea.- However some
monitoring data of the site was later published in the newsletter which
supported the observations - See the web site www.geocities.com/barcoorah
for photos and explanation of the site under "grazing" .
Obviously it seems it will take a long time before our society recognises
brittle environments are very different to humid environments and appropriate
grazing is necessary for grasses and ecosystems to be sustained at a good
level via ground disturbance, dung and urine breakdown of the nutrients.
For a full explanation we recommend reading the book "Holistic Management" by
Allan Savory printed by Island press
(6) Now for the news of the week .
The following move by NSW Landcare people is the first which is set to put
Government vegetation management processes across Australia into uncertainty
if not chaos.
From Fiveways landcare group (Nyngan NSW)
Dear Leon and Jane
We have released on Thursday 9 August, vegetation management guidelines that
we believe offer the next step in land management for our region in central
I believe that the existing landcare group organisations can offer the most
effective leadership on land management - these groups are made up of members
that live in the area, are committed to remaining here for generations to
come, and have the ability to share new ideas and new technology as it
becomes available. Our members have a very long and proud history of
sustainable land management in this area, some from as early as 1911, and our
proposal relies on these members for support.
The guidelines have been formulated to address the most significant land
management issues for each of the participating landcare groups. The
Fiveways have identified regrowth control as our most critical area of land
management and we have developed guidelines to deal with this. Other
landcare groups that have already prepared their guidelines are West Bogan,
Bobadah, Hermidale and Vermont Hill. Contacts are being made with other
landcare groups within this North Lachlan-Bogan Regional Vegetation area to
encourage them to prepare suitable guidelines.
Since the introduction of the SEPP-46 and the Native Vegetation Conservation
Act, 1997 into NSW, active land management strategies have been the biggest
casualty, followed closely by the socio-economic impact onto our landowners
and communities. This continued belief that by 'locking it all up as it is
now will preserve the vegetation for the future' is turning our land into an
We have determined that these guidelines will become effective from September
30, 2001. Too much time has elapsed already - it is imperative that our land
be managed immediately.
These guidelines have received widespread support from within our region, and
we intend on raising this issue of land management on as broad a scale as
I have attached a copy of the Fiveways Landcare Group's Vegetation Management
Guidelines, and would appreciate it if you could circulate these with the
Mrs Gabrielle Holmes
Fiveways Landcare Group
FIVEWAYS LANDCARE GROUP
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES (the main points)
THE FIVEWAYS LANDCARE GROUP HAS PREPARED THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES TO OVERCOME
THE INCONSISTENCIES OF THE NATIVE VEGETATION CONSERVATION ACT, 1997, AND ITS
IMPLEMENTATION BY RELEVANT GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.
REGROWTH CONTROL HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS THE MOST CRITICAL ASPECT OF LAND
MANAGEMENT FACING OUR REGION. THE FIVEWAYS LANDCARE GROUP ENCOURAGES MEMBERS
TO ACTIVELY CONTROL REGROWTH AND HAS DEVELOPED THESE GUIDELINES FOR THE
CONSERVATION OF NATIVE VEGETATION AND THE MAINTENANCE OF SUSTAINABLE
THESE GUIDELINES WILL PROVIDE THE LANDOWNER WITH THE NECESSARY TOOLS TO
MANAGE THE LAND, MAINTAIN A WELL BALANCED ENVIRONMENT THAT WILL PROVIDE FOR
BOTH BIODIVERSITY FUNCTION AND SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE LANDOWNER, AND ALLOW
FOR THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE LAND TO BE REALISED - NOT BECOME AN
ENVIRONMENTAL WASTELAND THROUGH NEGLECT.
* SUBMIT A DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION TO LOCAL LANDCARE GROUP - THIS WILL
INCLUDE A WHOLE PROPERTY PLAN
* A LODGEMENT FEE OF $500 WILL APPLY
* INDIVIDUAL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PRODUCING A PLAN WITHIN RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES
* IF A DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE LANDCARE GROUP, IT WILL
THEN BE INSPECTED BY A NOMINATED DELEGATION.
* THIS DELEGATION TO CONSIST OF ONE MEMBER EACH FROM FIVEWAYS LANDCARE GROUP
AND TWO NEIGHBOURING LANDCARE GROUPS FROM AREAS WITH SIMILAR PROBLEMS
* APPLICATION WILL BE INSPECTED FOR COMPLIANCE WITH ORIGINATING GROUPS
* WHEN A DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION IS ACCEPTED, IT WILL THEN BECOME ‘FIVEWAYS
LANDCARE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT NO. *’
* A FULL COPY OF THE DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION AND THE
INSPECTION NOTES WILL BE LODGED WITH THE LANDCARE GROUP
* CONDITIONS TO INCLUDE 15% RETAINED PER PADDOCK TO ENSURE CONNECTIVITY AND
MAINTAIN A BALANCE AT PROPERTY LEVEL BETWEEN CANOPY COVER AND GRASSES
* POSSIBILITY OF TRADE-OFFS BETWEEN PADDOCKS
* LAND CAPABILITY WILL BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT
* THIS PLAN SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT ALL THE BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES THAT
DIRECTLY APPLY TO LOCAL SITUATION, AND ENSURE THAT LANDOWNER VIABILITY IS AS
IMPORTANT AS ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS.
For more information contact Mrs Gabrielle Holmes
Fiveways Landcare Group email email@example.com, ph 0268 334454
* The NSW government will be faced with three choices once these vegetation
management plans are acted upon.
(1) To try to bluff landholders to backdown
(2) To charge several people for offenses against SEPP-46 or Native
Vegetation Conservation Act - 97 (causing massive publicity)
(3) Do nothing and then Landcare groups across Australia with vegetation
disagreements with governments may do similar and cause mayhem to all
government vegetation regulations that are trying to retain more than 15%
vegetation (the assumed "Duty of care" level) in their area, without paying
the landholder for this "public good".
(7) A national approach to firewood collection is being developed by State
and Federal Governments to ensure the industry's sustainability. More than 6
million tonnes of firewood is harvested annually and there is a growing fear
that this is threatening wildlife populations. The Draft Voluntray Code
covers harvesting timber in line with local clearing and conservation laws,
it also stipulates the merchants would have to inform their customers to
minimise smoke and pollution.
(8) Original Landcare architect says movement will evolve - there is no
One of the architects of the Australian Landcare Movement says politics is
getting in the way of a natural alliance between farmers, environmentalists
and aborignal people. Rick Farley, formerly of the National Farmers
Federation says the three groups are the country's most significant land
managers and should be supported with adequate funding to promote
sustainability within Australia. He's pushing for the idea of a one percent
tax on the community to raise the estimated 6.5 billion dollars needed each
year to reverse land degredation. Mr Farley says, that in his view, the
natural strategic alliance in this country is terms of landcare is between
farmers environmentalists and aboriginal people. Because at the heart of all
three groups is a wish to care for country and it's a pity that the politics
of division sometimes come between those different interest groups.
[* We believe there is more than politics of division involved. Disagreement
over such things as.
Justice, property rights, an agreed framework (dictatorship versus
incentives, regional versus state versus property level - see below), and
agreed scientific understanding of how the land functions and management
required. See (5) above ]
(9) Tasmania's Natural Resource Management
The steering committee responsible for developing the state's natural
resourse management strategy has just finished analysing 60 submissions sent
in from the public. Most of the submissions have come from peak organisations
in the state. Kim Evans, the Secretary of the Department of Primary
Industries Water and Enviroment says there's still some division on how the
strategy should be implemented. Some are suggeting a state wide approach is
best, while others support a regional approach. A draft strategy will be
released in six weeks for further public comment.
(10) Jenny Blake (1993 Vic Landcare award winner) has suggested an Australia
wide grass roots landcare type conference might be a way to tackle the issue
of recognition of the need for property rights, and establishing a process
for delivering the best environmental outcomes based on incentives to
Jenny has been to England to look at the various incentive mechanisms used
there, but has not had much support for the idea from politicians in
Australia so far.
Jenny suggested we could apply for some NHT money to help with the idea.
Any one wish to comment?
(11) More on Global Warming
By Dr Paal Brekke from the European Space Agency
Natural processes involving changes in the Sun could have at least as
powerful an effect on global temperature as increased emissions of carbon
Climate scientists have already looked at changes related to Sun spot
activity - a cycle of approximately 11 years - and long-term changes in the
Sun's brightness, which has a cycle that lasts for centuries.
They have discounted the effect of both on the temperature increase over the
last century because they either happen over too short a timescale, or they
are too weak.
But so far they have omitted to take two other factors into account:
Changes in the amount of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun affect the ozone
layer. This is a very important part of the atmosphere where lots of chemical
reactions take place that govern the way the rest of the atmosphere works;
The Sun's magnetic field and solar wind - mainly in the form of electrons and
protons coming out of the Sun - protects the entire Solar System by acting as
a sort of shield from cosmic rays (very energetic particles and radiation
from outer space).
This shield does not stop all the cosmic rays from getting though, and its
effectiveness varies with the long-term changes in the activity of the Sun,
which can rise and fall on a timescale of centuries.
(12) Discussion Point - From Bill SOKO (Daintree rainforest Foundation)
Ive noticed a lot of farmers claiming they will go down if they can't clear
land and I
will make Four points.....
1. on leasehold land the right to use the land was subject to clearing
right from the beginning. The crown leased the grazing or the ag rights but
always reserved other resources for future crown/public interest. Freehold
land is another story where the crown sold the vegetation with the land.
2. the restrictions on clearing are for the big picture and may adversely
on any one person but if everyone cleared all their riparian veg or prime
biodiverse land then everyone suffers, so most of us would like to be exempt
from laws and policy which may disadvantage us but we live in a community .
if the cities didn't produce tractors, trucks, inputs and buyers for the
products, not to mention defend the country, there would not be anyone in
bush anyway. We live in, by, for, and die in a community.... nobody in the
bush dealing with the money system should pretend he is the only hero out
3. Also in many cases farmers have gone broke trying to farm or develop
land, so often the pressure to preserve a wetland or clear shallow soil
4. And many blocks of land were broken up too small and nobody could make a
living out of it anyway. There are lots of blocks that are constantly
by new folks, mainly from cities who pour money in and walk away a few years
later less a couple hundred thousand.
From Leon Ashby
Hi Bill, Some very good points you`ve raised that I will add to if I may.
1.There are various types of leasehold across Australia, and varying original
conditions were on them. Some required clearing, others didn`t. A book could
be written about some of the anomalies in them. My lease requires fencing out
rabbits, which is a joke now, but it`s still on my lease.
2.I do not know anyone who believes in clearing land below the amount which
keeps a good level of biodiversity to maintain a sustainable productive
landscape, but there is plenty of debate as to what constitutes a good level
of biodiversity and what is the best way to achieve that level. Would you
like to say what level you believe is a fair rate of vegetation retention?
3.The marginal land idea is interesting. I tend to view this issue a bit
differently. My view is that often farming enterprises are marginal for
various reasons - low prices, high debt level, high interest rates, rising
costs (fuel), new taxes, partnership breakup, illness , bad management , or
indeed as you indicate the land type may not be suited for the particular
farm venture being attempted.
If any factor causes an enterprise to be marginal (and I have spent 15 out of
the last 20 years in marginal enterprises thanks to wool price crashes and
high debt levels), then management of the land will suffer.
It needs to be recognised that sustainable agriculture has to be profitable
I think your point 4 about blocks of land sometimes being too small and
people losing money on an enterprise suppports this view.
Does anyone else want to add a comment?
(13) Grazing and animal impact by Jane Ashby
(And finally an article from our web site briefly explaining how grazing and
impact can be used as a tool to regenerate land and improve the composition
of plant species and their density)
The basic tools
Running stock on the land is assumed to be a simple process." Everyone" knows
that graziers keep livestock on their properties to make a living but not
everyone knows that these animals can also be used as tools to effect the
land they live on. Large grazing animals do three main things that effect
the ecosystem that they are a part of. They graze, they deposit dung and
urine and they trample plants and the soil. These things can be used to help
or harm. Livestock can kill plants, compact and erode soil and destroy
habitat of native animals or they can be used to keep plants fresh, healthy
and diverse, keep the soil open and covered with litter, heal erosion and
create conditions suitable for native fauna.These good or bad results can
happen quickly or slowly.
What can be found in a paddock
The "good" and "bad" results described above can even be found co-existing
in the same paddock! Some plants in a paddock may be over-grazed to death
while others are kept healthy by appropriate grazing and others are dying
from being rested too long. The same paddock may have cattle tracks
beginning to erode in one place while nearby the hooves of excited cattle
have broken up capped bare ground and trampled down grass to make litter to
cover the loose soil - making an ideal seed bed and an improved water cycle.
Understanding plant growth stages
It all has to do with timing and to manage that timing requires knowledge,
money and determination. Firstly it helps to understand some basic things
(diagrams on web site)
The plant has been freshly grazed and is beginning to reshoot, drawing on
energy from it's roots.
The plant is half grown and has enough green leaf to be capturing enough
light for it's future growth with-out drawing on root reserves.
The plant has recovered from being grazed and is storing energy in it's roots.
If a plant is grazed during the first stage, it is forced to use more energy
from it`s roots to begin growing again. Should a plant be continually grazed
during stage one, then it recovers more and more slowly and may die.
If a plant is grazed during stage two it will not harm the plant so long as
the grazing does not remove so much leaf that the plant is set back to stage
one again. Since it is hard to know whether or not livestock will graze a
plant too low (called severe grazing) it is safer not to let livestock graze
pastures that are still in stage two. Overgrazing happens when a plant is
forced to keep drawing on energy from it's roots over and over with-out a
chance to recover and some plants grow horizontally (staying close to the
ground to avoid animal mouths) rather than vertically. This gives a degree of
protection as a result. It is only in stage three that energy is replenished
in the roots of the plant (due to photosynthesis in the leaves).
The soil moisture is low. The plant has dried out and become dormant having
stored energy in it's roots ready to regrow with the next rains
Opening rains have come, the plant is in stage one again and is drawing on
stored energy to regrow. It is hampered by the old growth that is shading the
growth points near the base.
When a plant reaches stage three it has finished replenishing the energy in
it's roots and has finished most of it's growing and can cope with being
eaten again. If the season dries out before a plant has time to recover and
the plant dries out completely so that it will have to reshoot again from the
base when rains come, then it can be eaten or trampled by stock while it is
dormant with-out any more harm than would have come to it anyway.
If a plant is left with-out being grazed, trampled or burnt for several
growing seasons the old dead leaves shade the plants growth points and the
plant can eventually die.This is more of a problem in areas with erratic
rainfall and low humidity where plant material above ground does not easily
rot (arid zone). In areas where dead things rot easily (humid areas) the old
leaves on the plant would go green and slimy and fall to the ground with-out
being grazed, leaving the plant's growth points free of old growth. These
high humidity areas are where you find rainforest type environments.
Most of Australia's rangelands lie at the other end of the scale. In these
extensive grazing areas, old grass leaves stay upright turning yellow, then
white, then grey. Even dead animals sometimes mumify rather than decompose!
These non-humid environments have been referred to as "brittle" environments
and it is not uncommon to see bushy old grass plants growing in circles,
because their centres, which experienced the most shading, have died and left
only the outside ring of leaves alive and bare soil in the centre. Some
plants cope better with over-resting because their growth points are not at
the base of the plant but rather all along the stem. One common grass like
this is Buffel which is a very common introduced grass in Queensland. It has
been called a weed by some environmental groups because it often out competes
native grasses. Buffel copes well with both over-grazing and over-resting but
when grazing is managed so that most of the grazing occurs in stage three
then Buffel is less likely to form a monoculture and native grasses have a
A grazier who understands these principals will try to time the grazing of
his pastures so that livestock are not left on grazed areas long enough to
regraze plants that are just beginning to reshoot. He will also try not to
move his stock onto pasture that was previously grazed but has not yet
completely recovered to stage three. At the same time he will try to make
sure that all the plants in his pasture are grazed at least once a year. As
you can imagine this is a complex undertaking.
Animal Intensity is important to get good animal impact
As well as considering grazing, the trampling of stock hooves on the ground
is beneficial when the land is given plenty of time to recover. Imagine a
group of 100 cows in a 1000 acre paddock all year round.They will have
favourite places to lay and walk which will soon become bare and at risk of
erosion. Now imagine 100 cows in a 2.7 acre paddock for just one day.
Anything they don`t eat, they will trample down. Any bare areas will be
scratched and broken up and covered in urine and manure by the time they
leave the paddock. If there are 370 of these paddocks, each one will have
more than a year to recover. Both groups of cows in this example are being
run at a rate of 1 cow to 10 acres. The stocking rate over a year is the same
but the effect on the land is vastly different.
Setting up a property for improved grazing management
The theory is easy, but setting up the management is the challenge,
especially if you already have a large debt.There are several methods
landholders are using to attempt to get the best grazing and animal impact
results possible within the constraints of their finances. These may have
names like cell grazing, time control grazing, holistic or planned grazing,
or pulse grazing. Because it usually takes a lot of money to put in lots of
watering points and new fences, the uptake of this grazing approach is
gradual.If landholders can get a good handle on this management the results
Some landholders results
Bob McFarland "Oxley" Hay NSW
Since 96-97, Bob has been using a moderately intensive planned grazing
arrangement on land that had been severely grazed by sheep since the 1840`s.
The rest period is usually from 240 to 300 days, running 6,400 grown sheep
plus lambs plus 150 cattle over an area of 24,000 acres. The results are an
increase in palatable native grasses including saltbush and kangaroo grass,
and a lessening of weeds such as bassias, glass swartz and unpaltable forbs.
Stock health has improved, weaners don`t lose condition which happened
previously and stocking rate has improved approximately 20%
Bob would like to get more intensity but watering points are his limiting
factor.He has used animal impact to reclaim a scalded area of 4.2ha using 183
cattle which were kept just on that area and fed hay for 6 weeks.
Richard Makim "Arizona" Julia Creek, Qld
Richard has been gradually adding fences and waters for a couple of years to
get more intensity and greater rest periods on his 64,000 ha property. With
just 35 paddocks and 5 groups of cattle, he is already getting good results.
Several native grasses including bluegrass have come back and new plants are
Richard wants to get a lot more intensity as funds become available.
Artie Lord "Sutherland" Richmond Qld
Artie began to make changes in 1994 on his 29,700ha forested desert property.
He now has 87 paddocks and is getting very good results. There is a great
variety of plants including stylos and legumes as well as a lot of native
grasses and buffel. Almost all the bare areas have disapeared and organic
matter on the soil surface has increased substantially. The stock numbers
have increased from 250 head to 900 head of breeding cattle.On some Downs
country he is getting trees with edible leaves to estabish naturally, because
he is managing the rest period for that goal.His management is good enough to
be able to know his what his grass reserves are 6 months ahead and either
lighten off or whatever well before the district markets are affected when
coming into a dry period.