Hi everyone,
                   For those of you who are new to News & views, we have put
almost all our past News & views archives on the web site now  so you can
check past discussions etc and find info that may be of interest. Click Here to see them.

If anyone knows of other interesting web sites we can link to the Landholders
site, let us know.
Many people are asking how the arrangements for Meat & livestock Australia
funding a  nation wide communications strategy is going. The latest is that
the landholders working on this, hope to have the strategy framework
presented to  MLA board in the not too distant future)

This weeks news & views
(1) Comments from Dixie Nott
(2) Gene Transfer from Plantations
(3) Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation defends land clearing at
SA Landcare Conference
(4) Historic Sea Rights Decision
(5) Lively debate on cotton set for the Kimberly
(6) QLD Mulga clearing permits fast-tracked
(7) NSW fails to achieve "no net vegetation loss"
(8) Fiveways Landcare uncovers NSW Govt plan to use $1million fines and tree
(9) Labour flags incentives to reduce land clearing
(10) Canada`s Intellectual Property Rights
(11) QFF comments on cost of public good conservation inquiry
(12) Namoi the battle-ground for all irrigators
(13) National Parks need private sector help
(14) Lindsay MacDonald (QLD) comments on Property Rights
(15) Jock Douglas Replies
(16) David Chambers (Land Management Society) comments on Trees etc
(17) Leon`s  Reply

(1) Comments from Dixie Nott

 I would really like to be included in your emailing list, please.
Partner and I have land in Central Qld. of which we have freeholded lately
and put over half in a nature reserve while hoping to earn a decent
honourable living on the rest doing cattle, timber value adding, bees ,
sometime and nature appreciation, sometime.
Have been a Landcare activator since 1989 and served a fair bit of hot air
firstly at Leasehold tree management workshops for 13 months and now Reg. Veg
meetings in the Queensland process. At least until Kim gets in and puts his
moratorium in place.
Fairly concerned about the hype being generated re GBR and
grazing/sedimentation and going to do some action re monitoring on property
as well as infect neighbours with the idea.
Am really impressed with the calibre and tone of discussion from Leon and
Jane in the 2 newsletters I have seen. Keep up the good , proactive work!

Dixie Nott
"Burwood"  Qld

* Hi Dixie, We think a plot monitored by photos and measurements of tree`s
diameters a metre above the ground is a great idea.


(2) Gene Transfer from Plantations

The issue of genetic transfer from plantation species, like eucalypts, to the
native tree population is becoming a research priority for scientists trying
to better understand the impacts of hybrid species in a forest. Studies
overseas have proved that there is gene flow from plantation tree species to
native forests, but the exact implications of this are this being
(3) Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation defends land clearing at
SA Landcare Conference

WilsonTuckey defended some land clearing practices, and questioning the
environmental importance placed on tree planting. He told the delegation of
200 people that re-forestation wasn't the solution to many of our
environmental problems such as salinity. He attacked some of the fundamental
principles which have guided Landcare since its inception. This includes him
defending landclearing, describing trees as 'woody weeds', he also turned his
attention to tree planting saying Landcare puts too much emphasis on the
practice. Mr Tuckey says people have to look more broadly and he finds
himself being over-critical of people who put up the re-forestation argument,
only to make sure people focus on engineering and other solutions that are
probably better. He says these solutions keep people on the land instead of
kicking them off to plant trees, which in our drier areas simply have no
economic benefit. He says he supports landclearing because it supports crops
(4) Historic Sea Rights Decision

The High Court this morning handed down Australia's first native title sea
claim finding sea rights do exist but are not exclusive nor commercial. The
claim over Croker Island seas, north east of Darwin, was lodged in 1994. The
Croker people argued for exclusive and commercial rights over local waters, a
concern for groups like the seafood industry who were worried about their
commercial fishing access in the area. There was also a view this would set a
precedent for other native title claims over Australian waters. In 1999 and
2000 the Federal Court stated Native Title rights do exist in offshore areas,
recognising Aboriginal rights to sea country, however these rights were not
exclusive nor commercial. The upholding of this finding by the High Court
means Aboriginal people can be at the negotiating table over what happens in
local waters. It also means operations like commercial fishing may continue
as they do at present.
(5) Lively debate on cotton set for the Kimberly

From Steve Baker (Friends of the Earth)

Hi Leon,

Thought you might be interested in this.
A public forum 'Cotton on Trial' will be held at the Broome Courthouse on
Saturday October 27th at 9am-1pm.

The forum will provide up-to-the-minute information about many aspects of the
proposed broadscale transgenic cotton industry in the West Kimberley. The
debate will be lively and all opinions welcome as we explore ideas and share
our visions for the future of our region.
Maria Mann

Environs Kimberley
PO Box 309 Broome WA 6725
Environmental non-governement groups, in general, are opposed to both genetic
engineering of food and fibre organisms and to the cotton industry in arid
and semi-arid regions. This opposition is based on both social justice and
environmental reasons.

Steve Baker

Steve also sent the web address of FoE Arid Lands Project webpages.

http://www.foe.org.au/farid/fhome/fhome3.htm        click here to view it
(6) QLD Mulga clearing permits fast-tracked

The Queensland Government has been forced to accelerate approvals for
clearing mulga to feed desperately hungry livestock, as drought conditions
worsen in the south-west of the State. Under the State's tree clearing laws,
landholders have to apply for a permit to clear mulga for stock fodder. The
Department of Natural Resources has been inundated with applications and a
massive backlog in approvals has built up. Stock are faltering fast with the
rapid onset of dry conditions, and landholders say its taking months to get
approvals and some graziers are being forced to clear illegally in order to
keep their stock alive. Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson flew to
Charleville today and announced that he's instructed his Department to
accelerate approvals and instead of taking weeks, he says it will now take 24
to 48 hours. Landholders have welcomed the short term solution and say they
will campaign to have mulga for fodder harvesting purposes removed from under
the Vegetation Management Act to ensure in the longer term they never face
the same situation again.

(7) NSW fails to achieve "no net vegetation loss"
The Minister for Agriculture, Land and Water Conservation has conceeded NSW
has failed to meet a national target on Vegetation clearing. Under the
Commonwealth's Bushcare programme, a target of "no net loss of vegatation"
was agreed, but Minister Richard Amery says the deadline has been and gone.
The Minister also has some 'troubles' with community based native vegetation
consultative committees and he's instigated a quick Departmental Review of
whats going wrong. Richard Amery, is under fire from both the environmental
and the farm lobbies, but he insists, on the whole, the State Government's
resource management regime is working.

* We wonder who agreed to the targets of "No net loss of vegetation",
certainly not the landholders involved - The Environment Australia web site
suggests it was Federal & state environment ministers who agreed with each
This is from the EA web site

Section 1.1.4 By 2001, all jurisdictions have clearing controls in place that
will have the effect of reducing the national net rate of land clearance to

(8) Fiveways Landcare uncovers NSW Govt plan to use $1million fines and tree

Excerpts from Fiveways Landcare press releases


With a Native Vegetation Act that is not working, Minister Amery has
attempted to force farmers into submission by introducing tough new penalties
under the Land and Environment Court! Fines of $1.1 million can be handed out
for breaches of the Native Vegetation Conservation Act, 1997.  

These new measures will be enforced by ‘tree police’ - Department of Land
and Water Conservation Compliance Officers that have been trained at the
Goulburn Police College!  New staff members have recently been appointed
bringing the total to 64 - with this number to be further increased.


Conservation - at any cost - is promoting severe land degradation in the
Nyngan area!!

In the State’s Central West there is a life and death struggle for the
control of thousands of hectares of privately held land.  Much of this land
is now covered by dense woody weeds (such as cypress pine, bimble box, wilga)
and the presence of such vast numbers of trees is causing massive land
degradation.  Historically this area was open grassland, only lightly
timbered with scattered trees.

The area is a low rainfall district, average 350-375mm annually (14-15
inches), and so competition for this moisture is intense.  Native grasses and
natural groundcovers cannot compete with the more established woody weeds and
invasive scrub, and so die off leaving vast areas of bare soil.

Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s ringbarking teams progressively
worked through much of this area.  This was standard land management practice
at that time, and this activity continued until the early 1940’s.  Labour was
more readily available than mechanical means. The rabbits were also
responsible for controlling much of this early regrowth and were capable of
eating out quite advanced saplings.  History records the impact that the
introduction of myxomotosis had on rabbits, and without their presence every
ringbarked box tree had a regrowth of wilga/budda/pine shoot up around its

Little tree management was performed on much of this area over the ensuing
time, the encroachment followed significant rain events, and gradually took
over on the scale that is present today.

If the Native Vegetation Conservation Act and the way it is being implemented
by the Department of Land and Water Conservation is so effective, why the
need for the new compliance policy and the increase in ‘tree police’?

The difficulties in dealing with the DLWC and the NVC Act are endless - the
integrity of various research reports that are presented that always seem to
support the stand the government is taking; the lack of any research to
support the balance between production and conservation; the intimidation
tactics that are used within the DLWC if an employee steps outside the line;
the imbalance in the regional vegetation committees between landowner
representatives and ‘fly-ins’ from outside the region with nothing at stake;
the intransigence of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in setting
targets for the region…..

Fiveways Landcare Group

(9) Labour flags incentives to reduce land clearing

The Federal Labor Party has announced it will ratify the Kyoto protocol on
climate change, if elected to government on November the 10th. Labor leader
Kim Beazley is also promising incentives for farmers to halt land clearing,
as part of the plan to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.  "Mr Beazley says
land clearing contributes roughly one sixth to Australia's national
greenhouse gas emissions, and today's policy includes as yet uncosted
incentives for farmers to lower their carbon dioxide emissions caused by land
clearing. If elected, Labor will introduce a land clearing trigger, and set
annual caps on clearing on a state-by-state basis.

* We are disappointed that Beasley`s can state greenhouse emission figures
without being challenged on property carbon sequestration figures - therefore
the public gets biased information

(10) Canada`s Intellectual Property Rights

In Canada, a farmer  was sued by the agrochemical giant Monsanto, for growing
the company's genetically modified canola without a licence. And even though
the farmer argued the seeds had blown on to his land from neighbouring farms,
he was found to have infringed Monsanto's intellectual property rights.
(11) QFF comments on cost of public good conservation inquiry

The recommendations are certainly encouraging.  Recommendation 1 states that
“the generally perceived moral rights of landholders [should be] acknowledged
and taken into account in the design of programs [that aim to promote public
good conservation]”.  Other recommendations suggest the establishment of a
rural conservation development fund; tax concessions for voluntary
conservation measures; revolving funds; management of Crown land to prevent
further weed and pest animal incursions; and the investigation of an
ecologically sustainable development finance authority.  QFF is concerned
however that the recommendation that a “commonly accepted definition in
principle of a landholder’s duty of care” be pursued may not be achievable.  
Whilst the principles underpinning what is considered to be a landholder’s
environmental ‘duty of care’ may be common across all jurisdictions, the
on-ground actions are likely to differ markedly.  

(12) Namoi the battle-ground for all irrigators

Irrigators across New South Wales are closely watching the battle between
north west water users and the State Government over the adjustment package
given for cuts to groundwater allocations. In August, the State Government
announced a $15 million dollar package to help irrigators along the Namoi
River cope with cuts of up to 95 percent. The irrigators though are concerned
that the Department of Land and Water Conservation and the Government have
failed to take into account the social and economic impacts such massive cuts
to the entitlements will have. Yesterday irrigators met again with
departmental representatives and re-stated their case that the government
should institute a rescue package as recommended by the Namoi Groundwater
Irrigators argue over water use in Lowbidgee

A dispute is brewing in the Lowbidgee floodplain in the south-west of the
State over conflicting agricultural and environmental water use. The region's
farmers are pushing for secure water rights but are worried a report from the
National Parks and Wildlife Service will jeopardise their case.

(13) National Parks need private sector help

Dr John Kingston (Ind Maryborough) has sent a letter to Qld Premier Peter
Beattie concerned with management of National Parks and protected areas.

His letter with quotes from Micheal Gabriel (Griffith Uni), Scott Prasser
(USQ), Hugh Lavery (former Qld director National Parks), Tony Charters (Qld
tourism Industries) and John Wamsley (Earth Sanctuaries).
The thrust of the quotes say that National Parks continually get degradation
from feral animals, tourist damage, demands for better facilities & better
access, and world conventions that virtually ensure the loss of all our
wildlife. They say we need to look to involving the private  sector in
sustainable solutions (both economically and ecologically) to the management
of National parks & protected areas.

Click Here to see John
Kingston`s web site and other interesting comments

(14) Lindsay MacDonald (QLD) comments on Property Rights

Dear Leon,
My thoughts on property rights.

The Wik decision turned on its head long-held views of what leaseholder
rights are.  All legal minds I have asked agree that leaseholders do  have
private property rights...all improvements etc after all are the private
property of leaseholders.  Leaseholders ran their businesses, and lived their
lives as though they had exclusive possession, except where the State
government had specifically reserved rights for itself (such as mining).

But since Wik, it is held that whatever leaseholder rights are not spelled
out by statute potentially become claimable by native title claimants.  So it
has now become an imperative to ascertain what rights attach to leases, and
what rights attach to native title.  Where there is conflict between those
rights, the High Court has said that leaseholder rights prevail....but these
are only those defined in statutes, not the common law.

State governments can and do take away leaseholder rights without
compensation.  In an effort to establish exactly what rights leaseholders
have left after the Wik decision (prior to it, it was held that leaseholders
had a common law assumption of rights if already practiced over time, such as
the right of expectation of lease renewal).  All of my inquiries to legal
people and industry bodies produced no clarification.  I was told the only
institution that could tell me what my rights are was the State Government,
as it was the only one with the resources to comb the statutes back to the
beginning, to enumerate what the rights are.

To that end, I wrote to the Premier of Queensland, requesting the State
Government's advice as to exactly what the rights of leaseholders are.  I was
very specific.  His reply is below.

Dear Mrs MacDonald

Thank you for your letter of 22 June and email of 1 July 1999. 1 note your
concern about the impact of native title on leaseholders, specifically with
respect to Preferential Pastoral Holdings and Pastoral Holdings Leases.

As you would appreciate I am unable to provide you with legal advice. 1 would
suggest to address your concerns about particular rights under a lease, you
either seek independent legal advice or alternatively contact such bodies as:-

Queensland Farmers Federation
The Cattlemen's Union of Australia
United Graziers Association of Queensland
who may be able to assist.

While 1 understand your concern, 1 am sure that any legal advice would
establish that many of your fears will prove to be unfounded. It may be
helpful to keep in mind that the High Court's Wik decision said that pastoral
lease rights prevai1 if they are inconsistent with native title rights. The
nature of the rights held under particular leases and their inconsistency or
otherwise with native title rights needs to be considered on a case by case
Completely unhelpful and rather fatuous, I'm sure you will agree.  Since that
letter, I know of two leases where the State government has declined to renew
the tenure.  Apparently its intention is to hand over the leases to native
title claimants as outright freehold.  

The Commonwealth Government tried to address the fundamental issues of Wik by
attempting to define what activities were allowable on leases, but did not
address the issue of lease renewal.  There is no reason why State governments
cant renew, but they can choose not to, and it is apparently a Labor
government's option being utilised.  

The rights defined by the Commonwealth in its Wik amendments (1998), can only
be exercised if State governments decide to bestow those rights.  I
understand the Qld. Gov is moving to expand and clarify the range of
activities allowable, but still leaves up in the air, the right of lease

The Democrats and Labor party have said they will want to revisit the 1998
legislation.  Neither party will respond with details of what they want to
change.  From all that I have been able to deduce, the two issues most likely
to be vulnerable to review will be the listing of Grazing Homestead Perpetual
leases on the schedule of exclusive possession, and the range of leaseholder
activities, in order to expand where native title might be found, and to
expand the rights which might be claimable.

In my view the whole thing is a disaster.


(* Hi Lindsay, You have just displayed how unthought out the whole situation
is and how vulnerable  we leaseholders all are to having complete erosion of
our rights. While a lot of lobbying may gradually make progress, there is a
vital need for a nation wide information campaign on environmental management
and property rights issues, because too few of us are aware of the detail and
reality of the situation.)

(15) Jock Douglas Replies

These are valid, well considered responses on an important issue.  I agree
that things have changed since the late 80's.

 The mindset created by policy instruments is a crucial issue, and not
usually well considered by 'government'. I'd suggest that the general
landholder resource management mindset is deteriorating into defensive,
reactionary and negative territory - despite efforts of people like you to be
open, inclusive and positive. A key factor seems to be to be that the 'space
left for creativity and innovation' of landholders in their resource
management is continually shrinking. I'm for expanding that space, for
recognition and reward for good resource management.

 There are two salient questions to be answered:

(1) How can we, as natural resource managers, meet the expectation for
improved resource management while capturing public recognition and market
(2) How do we, as families and enterprises, actually improve our resource
management to halt and turn around the decline in resource condition across
this vast, diverse continent, and its coastal waters?

I'm leading a small (growing) group involved in developing a delivery
framework called ALMS -Australian Landcare Management System - to answer
those questions.


* We are very keen to support Jock and the  ALMS idea that can put
landholders on the front foot when questions / allegations of bad management
get thrown at us, whether it be consumers, competitors,  or anti farming

 Margaret House (Aramac Qld) has made the comment that she hopes that if ALMS
can be landholder driven rather than govt controlled, it has more likelyhood
of the sort of success we need.     

Details about ALMS should be on the Landholders web site soon.  

 (16) David Chambers (Land Management Society) comments on Trees etc

Hi Leon,

Your news is very interesting and a great effort.

A response to some issues in your newsletter 8/10/01.

You would agree that biodiversity does really mean diversity ie no one case
fits all.

There appear to be number of articles in your newsletter that are defined
around local conditions and are useful to learn about. I think you will
agree that such comments must be viewed within the local limits.

You have been very enthusiastic about organic carbon, this is indeed
important and is most relevant in a natural closed cycle environment ie
forest or grassland. Whilst still important in farmed land we should not
forget the nutrient export in our crops which requires the replacement of
many elements (Ca, Cu, K, etc) in addition to carbon.

It was amazing to read Jane Ashby's statement justifying clear felling
because some plants need open space to propagate. This is very like another
justification from reputable government organistaion expounding how clear
felling created wonderful opportunities for plant and animal colonisation.
It could be suggested that this wonderful opportunity, after total
devastation with heavy machinery, would allow equal opportunity for exotic
species that are not native. The same organisation promoted spring burning
in the forest. Justified by the prospect of a cool burn and that there has
been no proven detriment. However due to mismanagement there have been fires
that have been initiated under incorrect conditions. The result has been
very hot burns destroying flora, bird and animal life at their peak
opportunity for reproduction. The forest is then laid barren and unprotected
during the following long hot summer and autumn. Many believe that an Autumn
burn is appropriate with the winter and spring rain causing regeneration
before the heat of summer.

There area around Barcoorah is obviously very different from other parts.
The argument to remove trees may well apply to what was once native
grassland. To disturb forest/bushland diversity with its self-balancing
ecology and carbon recycling etc is very different indeed. The idea
suggested by Jane Ashby of tree rotation and grazing the understorey with
exotics such as cattle is certainly going to dramatically change the
diversity of the ecosystem. For example here in WA where forest has been
replaced by grazing, the remaining trees (remnant veg) areas on farm lands
are typically bereft of diversity and essentially doomed. This is because
these areas are unfenced and the exotic grazing animals continue to remove
all understorey and germination. Certainly the natural carbon cycle is
dramatically changed as are the flora and fauna.

Our government offers considerable incentives to fence off the remnant areas
to encourage the resestablishment of diversity.

It is interesting to note the strong emphasis (from government/city folk) on
biodiversity as applied to endangered species etc within current
bush/forest/remnant. Biodiversity is just as important within the
farming/cropping environment (albeit more limited in diversity).

It has been demonstrated that establishing farm diversity by planting
tree/understorey corridors (each with complementary biodiversity) will build
up/rebalance shelter, insects, birds and other fauna. The restoration of
balance then benefits the crops and animals in the paddacks eg (shelter)
lambing rising from 60% to 90% yield and (insect management) Canola grown
without chemical protection (for eight years).

Best regards,

David Chambers
(17) Leon`s  Reply

 G`Day David, Your comments are appreciated. I will try to clarify Jane`s

The idea of clear felling in stages (variable retention), has been a
management practice in places like Canada and the WA karri forests for years.
In WA, it keeps the forest as a stand of Karri trees otherwise it can become
Marri trees which grow when clear felling is NOT the harvesting practice.
Once again it depends on the landscape goals as to what management should be
used (whether you want karri trees or not).It is a worldwide practice that
has come about because it works.

Here is a Quote from Dr Patrick Moore who also recognises that some tree
species  not regenerate sufficiently without clear felling.

Variable retention is based on the idea that the most important value in the
forest is biodiversity, the many species of plants, animals, birds, insects
and invertebrates living there. In order to make sure that all the species
can survive in a managed forest it is necessary to understand their habitat
requirements for breeding, feeding, hibernating, etc. So long as sufficient
habitat is retained in the landscape it should be possible to maintain viable
populations of each species. Coincidentally, many species are perfectly happy
in landscapes where the trees have been recently cleared. Birds that nest in
shrubs will usually find more available shrubs where the forest cover is
removed. Other species, such as cavity nesting birds, need standing dead
trees in the landscape, and still others, such as woodland caribou, need
fairly large blocks of older forest. Variable retention is about planning
timber harvesting over time so that all the necessary features for species
survival are always present somewhere in the landscape.

In the case of MacMillan Bloedel’s 1.1 million hectares of public and private
forest land, 205 species of vertebrates known to live there. Variable
retention theory makes the assumption that vertebrate biodiversity is a good
indicator of overall biodiversity. In other words, if all the vertebrates are
looked after, the other species will survive as well. These 205 species of
mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are all catalogued as to their
requirements. This information is used to design the pattern of harvesting
over time.
With regards to Grazing

Jane`s assumption with livestock grazing was using high intensity, short
duration grazing and long rest times. This produces more perennial grasses,
better carbon cycling, and greater soil life, the reverse situation to
continuous grazing which you correctly say destroys the understorey, often
reduces diversity and usually changes the ecosystem for the worse.  

Most people have trouble believing that by using a management tool
differently, you can get such different results. This applies not only to
grazing, but burning (as you mentioned), & tree pulling etc etc.

For anyone who is sceptical about how affective planned / pulse / cell
grazing can be, the best guide is to look at the soil & grasses in shut up
stockyards a few months after a good rain and compare it with the soil &
grasses outside the yards. In the stockyards it is usually high density,
short duration stocking for only a few days a year, followed by rest. The
other is usually a much different stocking / grazing / resting regime. In
arid areas the contrast can be stark.  On Barcoorah it can be 7,000 kg /ha of
5 or 6 different grasses in the stockyards and 1,000 kg /ha of two or three
grasses outside the yards. This is not a perfect guide because the trampling
kills the plants rather than grazes them, therefore perennials have a hard
time in the stockyards,but it gives an indication.

Our concern is, while the world is rushing into state, federal, and
international restrictions on land management assuming things like "all
grazing is bad", or "all treepulling is bad", or "all resting is good". The
truth is all management tools can have appropriate situations and times where
they are good, and times where they are detrimental. If these facts are not
allowed for in legislation and regulations, then degradation will result.