How`s your weather? Southern Australia has just had one of the
coldest & wettest December`s ever. Our first day of 30 degrees was this week.

 We are continuing to get a bit of info in the media, and more people are
joining our list.
The book "The skeptical environmentalist" is now in bookshops. ($50). We have
a copy and it is very thorough. It looks at each environmental issue with
heaps of statistics and graphs - an amazing book. We will feature parts of it

If anyone has whispers about their state govt`s position (or lack of a
position) on property rights coming up to the first COAG meeting, could you
let us know. It`s possible we (Landholders in general) may need to organise
some "action" in certain states to make our position clearer to certain
politicians. Any imaginative ideas will be welcome.

This edition`s news & views
(1) Some news in brief
(2) Cattle numbers increase near the Kalahari (& improve the land)
(3) Gold Mine improves water quality
(4) NSW Landholders angry over parks fire management & push for fire
(6) CSIRO research OK`s SA Forestry, & confuses salinity prevention  
(7) Thirty percent of products Genetically Modified
(8) Salinity $$ potential
(9) Biggest Compost Pit in Tas
(10) Clarence river diversion questioned
(11) Well Done Jock - David Chambers
(12) Fitzroy Basin Elders Committee comments on Native title in protected
(13) US Farm Subsidies' Website
(14) Kangaroo cull quota increased
(15) National Parks master plan
(16) Call for increased disease cover
(17) Lawyers push for review of SA Water Resources Act
(18) Discussing Environmentalism as a religion - Steve Baker (Friends of the
Earth) & Leon Ashby
(19) Sustainability, beliefs, paradigms & urban Australians - Dan McLuskey

(1) Some news in brief
WA proposing $1 million fines for illegal clearing
Yeast is being used to reduce toxic residues in soils
A SA landholder is turning his small grazing island into a conservation area,
He has recognised the lack of predators on the island encourages wildlife
survival much better. Some 60 species already live on the island. A tourism
venture is planned to complement the idea.
Qld Premier rejects a dingo farm idea for Fraser Island, saying as the island
is almost totally a World Heritage listed National Park. He wants dingos to
remain wild on the island, but not be as visible as previously, & without
being a risk to children.
Ronan Lee (Qld MP) said in parliament recently "all farmers children should
be educated so that they do not pollute."  (Obviously believing farmers are
worse than anyone else)

(2) Cattle numbers increase near the Kalahari (& improve the land)

South Africa's Dick Richardson has 6000 hectares next to the Kalahari desert.
By using high density, short duration grazing, he's constantly improving his
carrying capacity on a rainfall of about 400mm per year. This area currently
runs 1200 head of cattle. (an area in similar rainfall in Australia usually
runs 300 - 500 head )
(3)  Gold Mine improves water quality

The Henty Gold Mine in western Tasmania has built a wetland to act like a
water treatment facility. All the water from the the underground operation is
pumped to the surface into storage ponds, where the water is purified for
re-use in the mine or release into the Henty River. The water which flows
into the creek is cleaner than it's original source
(4) NSW Landholders angry over parks fire management & push for fire

Farmers devastated by the Goobang National Park Bushfire are appealing for an
urgent meeting with the Premier Bob Carr, in a bid to secure compensation.
Producers blame a backburning exercise by the National Parks and Wildlife
Service for extensive damage to properties and livestock. Anger over the
fire's management was palpable at a meeting of 120 locals held at Tomingley  
The NSW Farmers Association will investigate the possibility of legal action
if negotitation with the Premiers department isn't satisfactory. The damage
bill is estimated to be above $2 million. (Five thousand, two hundred sheep
and cattle were killed and much property was destroyed)

Local knowledge necessary with fires

Management of the fire burning in Hunter Valley has similarly produced
outrage among community members. Since late last year community meetings have
been conducted by the local fire authorities, to inform locals about
management strategies, backburning and their possible impact. It was at one
such meeting at Jerry Plains, where people attending, managed to force
authorites to reconsider their plans. Residents became concerned about the
backburing plans for that day. They were subsequently cancelled after locals
argued the strategy was inappropriate and dangerous.


WA to grow Canola for Biodiesel

Experimental work is underway in Western Australia to produce a CANOLA crop
that can be turned into biodiesel.

Researchers at WA's Department of Agriculture say the right variety of
canola could be crushed, and its oil used to power industrial and domestic

Project spokesperson, HOWARD CARR says thicker, more robust, and higher
yielding plants are needed for the biodiesel project.
Biodiesel radish

The Department is also running a similar project which hopes to produce
biodiesel, or fuel, from wild radish. Howard Carr, says the crushing of the
radish plant would be no problem, it's the harvesting which will require some
innovative technology.

Ethanol in Qld

The Qld Govt has started using a new fuel E10 (10% ethanol added to petrol).
The ethanol comes from molasses (sugar cane), but will not give much economic
benefit to cane growers at this stage. Ian Ballantyne (Canegrowers) says they
have been pushing for ethanol blended fuels for 10 years.
(6) CSIRO research OK`s SA Forestry, & confuses salinity prevention  

A new deal has been brokered which will now allow further plantation
developments to go ahead in the Southeast of SA. Up until now there have been
concerns about forestry robbing the South East of precious water. This
assertion has been denied by the State Government who in the process have
reassessed forestry's water allocation. Water Resources Minsiter Mark
Brindal, who claims the government decision is a national breakthrough has
allowed for 20 thousand hectares of new forest plantation, and 15 thousand
hectares of bluegum plantation, over the next 5 years. The decision has come
about by reapportioning the water allocation that had already been
apportioned to forestry in the South East.

In the original allocation, it was assumed that none of the recharge water
gets through to the table on forest lands. However the CSIRO has reassessed
this, and found that once the forest gets to a certain age, there is in fact
a level of recharge of around 17 percent. Therefore, the extra plantation
space that has been given to the industry does not actually take anymore water

* This has huge implications for salinity issues - If plantations do not
prevent rainfall from reaching an aquifer, then surely trees cannot PREVENT
water entering water tables and rising.
This research however did not answer the question about if trees remove any
or much water from a shallow aquifer, so the full story is still yet to be
known. Maybe the SA govt will dodge this issue because it will mean forests
might need a water license if it found they did use aquifer water.
(7) Thirty percent of products Genetically Modified

 In a sample of over 600 local and international products Genescan Australia
found one third contained genetically modified material. The products tested
over the last seven months were mainly derived from corn and soybean crops.
The Australia and New Zealand Food Authority says it's not surprised about
the amount of genetically modified material entering the food chain from
overseas. Managing Director of ANZFA, IAN LINDENMAYER says the results were
to be expected, considering the type of products tested.  And I would have to
say that 30 per cent figure would not apply across the spectrum of the food
supply as a whole."

(8) Salinity $$ potential

The nation's salinity crisis could be turn out to be a money spinning
enterprise, according to the CSIRO, which is investigating value-adding to
salt patches by extracting valuable minerals. CSIRO Minerals are using the
Murray-Darling Basin as a trial site to extract minerals from the saline
waters for use in products such as cement, fertiliser and plastics. According
to the Program Manager of CSIRO Minerals, Dr Graham Sparrow, the new project
could dramatically improve Australia's salinity problem.

(9) Biggest Compost Pit in Tas

 Bridport-based Greenfeed Enterprises is composting waste from abattoirs,
concentrated dairy effluent, sawdust and processing waste from potatoes,
pyrethrum and so on in less than three weeks for re-use as an organic
fertiliser. The business is growing rapidly with eleven people employed now
and new operations about to start up on King Island and the North West Coast.
(10) Clarence river diversion questioned

From Sheila Davis

Comment from a fellow conservationist:

"Have only just seen this and all I can say is that anyone who advocates
of the Clarence to the Darling must be totally ignorant of all the analyses
done of the Snowy Mountains Scheme which did the same thing (Snowy to the
It provides short-term economic benefit to some at the long-term cost to the

* Thanks Sheila for passing these comments on,  Two points to make here.
(1)Those of us who believe river diversions should be considered, want to see
it done in the light of ALL the available data (good & bad) on river
diversions world wide. It is important to learn from past difficulties,
weaknesses and mistakes, and to only proceed if the community agrees the
plans can demonstrate the long term benefits outweigh the negatives

(2) The idea that the Snowy river diversion amounted to only short term
economic benefit to some at the long term cost to the environment seems an
unusual analysis.

The gain of 10% more water to the Murray river system appears to have given
some very long term benefits including.

(a) 10% More water annually to the Murray and many towns, landholders &
(b) Increased long term food and other resource production for use in
secondary, tertiary and service (food) industries
(c) More permanent jobs for those relying on the extra production and
associated industries
(d) More wealth & service creation across the whole community (e.g. taxes
resulting in more govt spending etc) and
(e) A long term supply of renewable hydro electricity supplied to millions of

As for the cost to the environment, I would agree some problems have arisen,
but none appear insurmountable.
(i) The Snowy River flow will be increased to 28 % of the original flow via
water delivery efficiency gains
(ii) Salinity research, better understanding and new ideas will gradually
reduce salinity problems in the irrigated areas (which would have occurred
even without the extra water)

Despite the large nature of the Snowy river project, it appears no known
species extinctions have occurred due to this diversion.

In the light of all this,  I believe it would be far more accurate to say the
Snowy scheme has had HEAPS of long term economic benefits for many people and
only a few short term environmental costs, as well as the environmental gain
of having a long term non fossil fuel using energy supply.

Now we`re not saying Australia should definitely divert the Clarence, but we
do say we should have a way of collecting all the data on river diversions,
give imaginative people  a chance to plan a scheme with the lowest
environmental costs and as many long term economic, social and environmental
benefits as possible, and then present that to the community to decide on.

As with other water & vegetation issues, it is the information collection and
decision making process which needs some attention. With our improving
communications systems, we (the community) should demand better information
and proper replies to our questions and concerns. Governments are still doing
deals behind closed doors as though the community has no right to know what
is going on until after decisions are made. Flatter, more open decision
making processes need looking at rather than the heirarchial "ignore the
peasants" & "cover your backside" process we currently have.
- Leon
(11) Well Done Jock - David Chambers

Jock Douglas is to be applauded for his ALMS action which is raising good
awareness in Eastern Australia of all the main issues our Society has stood
for, but lacked the political lobbying, wealth, man power etc. to break
through the enormous inertia. It is however great to see the greatly
increased awareness,action, spending etc within West Australian catchment and
regional groups.

The Society does have a role in Jock's ALMS proposal, perhaps we and he can
work to achieve the vision. Both Jock and Tony Gleeson are informed of our
position , our website and our monitoring program etc. All that Jock
comments, we have said before (see our web site http:www.lmsinfo.com under
monitoring). The ambitions of industrial bodies and government agencies have
made the going very difficult indeed. We need more arms,legs, lobbying power
and funding. Jock and his efforts may well make the difference.

This year sees an even greater need for what we have pioneered as the regions
and catchments gather speed so to they will more than ever recognise the need
for farmers to own responsiblity of natural resources and also the need to
provide the tools such as we already have created. So key steps must be taken
to contact and / or visit the regions to help them with available tools.

NRM funding will be grabbed by agencies this is good if previous work of the
farming community is not overlooked in the haste to receive funding. We are
very aware of considerable waste of resources in the past.

Look out for the research report cover "Ecosystem Farm Management" funded by
Land and Water Australia. It will be e-mailed shortly and also placed on the
web site.

Best wishes for 2002.

David Chambers

Land Management Society Inc.
Western Australia
(12) Fitzroy Basin Elders Committee comments on Native title in protected

The principle  would appear to apply to the continuing concurrent enjoyment
of native title in existing protected areas.
The full bench of the Federal Court, ruling in the Ben Ward (Miriuwung and
Gajerrong) appeal case, and despite overturning other aspects of the original
native title claim, left intact the recognition of native title in protected

(13) US Farm Subsidies' Website

A new website detailing the names of two and a half million US people who
receive subsidies and how much they've pocketed over the past five years is
creating a storm .
One of the vice presidents of the Environmental Working Group, Bill Walker
says the group has uncovered some startling figures ( a hundred have recieved
over $2 million each )  www.ewg.org or click here
(14) Kangaroo cull quota increased

Environment groups are outraged by the Federal Government's decision to boost
this year's commercial kangaroo quota by around 1.5 million animals. Federal
Environment Minister David Kemp has announced a record quota for this year,
allowing almost seven million kangaroos to be killed for commercial use. The
kangaroo meat industry says it won't necessarily fill the extra quota. That's
done nothing to appease the concerns of environmentalists who say kangaroos
would be better utilised within ecotourism operations, rather than for their
meat and skins.

 Agforce Kangaroo spokesperson Brian Rutledge says the roo population has
exploded by 300% in Queensland over the last decade and stands at 37 million.
Mr Rutledge says Agforce and scientists asked for the quota to be increased
from 2.4 to 6 million based on a sustainable cull of 15 to 20% but they only
got 3.8 million.

Meanwhile in South Australia, only one third of last year's kangaroo quota
was used by the kangaroo processing industry. This has led to a continued
rise in the populations of kangaroos, along with an associated increase in
total grazing pressure in pastoral regions. For some pastoralists, this may
mean they'll have to de-stock sheep and cattle, if the kangaroo processors
don't relieve the pressure from kangaroos. While red kangaroos are being
harvested with some effect, western greys and Euros are not.   Pastoralists
may have to consider employing shooters simply to just shoot and leave roos
to rot.
(15) National Parks master plan

There may be some good news for anyone with a property bordering on a
national park. The Environmental Protection Agency has released its national
parks master plan, outlining how parks will be managed over the next twenty
years. Past and current managment came in for a broadside from Acting Prime
Minister John Anderson - he says there's been a poor record of national parks
management to date, and more 'bush common sense' is needed.
 (16) Call for increased disease cover

The Cattle Council says the death of 10 cattle in Queensland due to Anthrax
highlights the need for all states and the Commonwealth to adopt new funding
arrangements for disease out breaks. Under current arrangements only 12
diseases are elligble for compensation. Under the new cost sharing
arrangements developed by livestock industries over the last four years, 63
diseases would be covered. Cattle Council member, John Stewart, says until
industry and governments sign off on the new proposals, examples like the
Antrhax case will be not be elligble for compensation.
(17) Lawyers push for review of SA Water Resources Act

 Lawyers have been assisting horticulturists in Coonawarra and McLaren Vale
appeal against a decision to reduce their water allocations but with little
success.The latest court decision confirms their view that the Act needs
changing. The act gives the minister considerable control over issuing
licences and varying existing licences, and the way Ministers chose to
excersise that discression is causing what lawyers say is 'a fair amount of

A Coonawarra  land holder who purchased land for a dairy, with a promise to
obtain water, could not once the promise could not be upheld when the
proclamation came in limiting further licences. This was one of 25 cases
which came to the courts, but it was found the courts were bound by the
decisions of the Minister. The courts became involved because there is no
appeal process when a plan is bought into law by a Minster. There is a
consultation process, but the process has one major flaw; license holders are
not directly notified that there is a plan being prepared. Also, the minister
has decided it is not his obligation to give the information, and therefore
the lack of resources for an individual to prepare a case for their
allocation of water is difficult.

(18) Discussing Environmentalism as a religion  - Steve Baker (Friends of the
& Leon Ashby

Steve says

I found the comments describing environmentalism and environmentalists in
terms of religious zealotry to be reactive, unproductive and (probably
deliberately) insulting, especially coming from a network that claims to
promote pluralism in environmental management. so I took your piece and
changed some key words for you to see how others might view the situation.

Is todays productionism a religion?

Primary production has become a religion.
Believers are not constrained by needs for logic or scientific accuracy
because their hearts are pure.
All others are judged impure and motivated by "vested interests".
The primary producer feel blessed when they stop anything, and do not
agree to any rational problem-solving, on principal!
As a result Goverments are intimidated. There is no common ground for
analysis or action.
The media stir the pot.
The scientists and engineers stand silent because they do not want to be
accused of impurity or lack of production "faith".
That leaves the field open for the leaders of primary production (eg NFF),
see the weaknesses and exploit them.

Like you, I like to discuss different points of view and, I support some and
not others, though I think many 'positions' are more complex than two
opposing points of view.

In regard to landholder's views regarding comments by environmental groups,
while it is important to listen to and understand these views, it is also
important to realise that landholder's do not have an ability to read the
motives and nature of others any better than any other group of people in our

You, like any member of a particular group, will tend to support the
positions of groups you identify with, this is fair enough, I tend to support
the positions of groups I identify with (though not always). Similarly, just
as you probably don't expect to find balanced debates in environmental
newsletters,  I tend not to expect you to provide balanced arguements in your
newsletter, which means from time to time maybe we are both pleasantly

On the issue of religious zealots, I suspect both our groups have good
representation of this type of person and both have members who tend to
'shoot from the hip' in rather emotive and, dare I say, irrational ways. So I
expect you can find examples of comments by environmentalists that reflect a
religious zeal, the danger lies in taking such comments and making
generalisations about whole groups of people, this I think can create more
barriers than solutions, but then making generalisations is something we all


Steve Baker
FoE Australia


G`Day Steve,
                    Thanks for making your points. While we were not
intending to be insulting by putting this view in News & views, we wanted the
issue of "beliefs" and "zealotry" brought up as many landholders in landcare
and producer circles have often made comments similar to Professor Endersbee
, and just this week on SA talkback radio there were the same type of
comments by several callers - one saying many green groups are  now facists
trying to over control the public on various issues.

 In our view some discussion (as we are having) may be helpful for those of
us hoping for better communication and understanding to occur.
You have made some good points and I agree there are often "shooting from the
hip" types of comments often made, but I think the issue is more than that

We realise there are differing beliefs about many environmental issues and do
not see this as a bad thing provided everyone`s beliefs are recognised as
beliefs, and facts (data) are recognised as just that and the two are not

The situation now often occurs where beliefs are spoken about as a fact by
many environmentalists and it is not even realised

Here`s an example  

Let`s say someone claims "if the Kyoto agreement is not ratified, then sea
levels will rise and environmental disasters will occur"

This is a statement that sounds like it is based on heaps of solid facts.
But a closer look at this issue shows the data no where near agrees with that
statement i.e. the data shows

# Atomospheric CO2 is increasing and
# The world`s temperature has increased about 2 degrees Celcius in the last
40 years

But Data also shows
# The world`s temperature has fluctuating throughout history
# Historical evidence is showing when solar energy levels have risen, the
earth`s temperature has also risen (and this seems to account for most of the
current global temp increase.)
# Sea levels are fluctuating around the world with neither a clear trend up
or down
# Some Glaciers are advancing and some are retreating
- Click Here or here or here for more details from
our web site

So back to that claim of imminent environmental disaster. Is it backed up by
a CAREFUL look at A LOT of data, or is it backed up by a BELIEF  that
disaster is coming? In other words, is it spoken about as a certainty based
on some sort of faith in something.

 Now if the person was not overly zealous they might have said something like
  " if the Kyoto agreement is not ratified , I BELIEVE  environmental
disasters will occur".
A statement acknowledging it is a belief that imminent disaster is coming and
it is not based on facts or data, but a belief based on either guesswork, a
hunch, peer influence, a philosophy or whatever.

So for many, the judgement about when environmentalism (or anything else) has
become a religion, the dividing line is
* Not when the facts (data) about an issue are stated
* Not when the possible interpretations based on data are stated
* But when beliefs are stated as fact - (e.g. when it is said that 100,000
species ARE  becoming extinct each year and there is no data or evidence
showing EXACTLY that)

Here is a list of a just a few beliefs that I have heard expressed in the
media as fact during the past few years. - (And If these are not beliefs, we
will happily put the refuting data on this newsletter.)

# Grazing ALWAYS causes degradation
# Development by humans is ALWAYS bad
# More controls over landholders WILL improve the environment
# Qld`s tree management practices ARE NOT sustainable (i.e. Qld`s trees will
soon be destroyed)
# Land clearing IS causing large numbers of extinctions (ignoring the
competitive exclusion principle - extinctions due to two species competing
for the same ecological niche)
# Native species ARE THE BEST  for an environment. - a belief that includes
nature having a mind of it`s own (i.e. that it will make things better if we
leave it alone). This belief overlooks past mass deaths and extinctionism
(e.g. dinosaurs), or what happens if a backyard or national park is left
totally unmanaged.

Some will consider that this is finnicky to accuse people of being zealots
for stating their beliefs as facts, but we know that many people who know
nothing of the issues start believing these statements, and if it continues,
the majority of a population eventually believes in these environmental
dogmas in much the same way as believing religious dogmas
The next thing is that any doubters and nonbelivers of the dogmas start
becoming scorned.
Finally legislation and action based purely on beliefs gets brought in. The
ultimate evidence of environmentalism as a religion.

Of course Landholders do realise not every environmentalist is a zealot, and
even landholders can wrongly state beliefs as facts too, but if  we do not
start to tighten up each others environmental thinking then inferior
environmental decisions will continue to be made.

(19) Sustainability, beliefs, paradigms & urban Australians - Dan McLuskey

Thanks for the newsletter. I am very concerned about sustainability

 I think that we have the solution the wrong way round in Australia.

We are the most urbanised nation on the planet. This means that our voting
masses are invariable urban, and the average urban Australian has literally
no horizon past the limits of the city. The bush is not even a part of the

The greatest proportion of pollution created in Australia is created by our
cities. They are the centres of manufacturing, consumption, most of our
electricity is consumed there, most of our waste is generated there and so
on. To get a better idea of the extent of the problem, read a small book
called "Cities for a Small Planet". It is written by a pair of architects
who tried to design a sustainable city. Fascinating and damning together.

These urbanites believe that the solution to our sustainability problems
lies in screwing rural Australians: it salves the conscience while not
demanding anything of themselves. They want to be able to own more cars, yet
it takes more energy to make a car than it will ever consume in fuel in its
life. They want more air conditioning, yet aircon is about 10% efficient,
that is, about 10 units of energy are burnt in a coal fired power station
for every unit of energy extracted from a room. ( the aircon unit itself is
about 30% efficient, and the power station at base load is about 30%
efficient ).

A classic example (of screwing rural Australia) is the Regional Forests
Agreements which stop logging in Australian forests. This is promoted as a
great victory for sustainability.
But when you look at it a bit more closely, it is no such thing. Australians
have not reduced their consumption of timber. So the same number of trees
are being cut down on the planet to satisfy our needs, they are just being
cut down in some other country and imported. So the policy fails the
environmental test of sustainability. We now have an import bill for timber
products of about $22 billion per year. So the policy fails the economic
test of sustainability. And a lot of communities have been destroyed or
seriously undermined. So the policy fails the societal test of

The reason the I say this is that systems theory tells us that it is
unsustainable to have a subsystem or subculture such as rural Australia
behaving in one way (sustainable) while the dominate culture or system is
behaving in an unsustainable way.

However culture arises from our values and beliefs. Culture in turn is
expressed as paradigms. And paradigms are expressed as systems - including
legislative systems, regulations etc. So to create a sustainable

To me, the issue is to change the way that the average Australian thinks
about sustainability. To realise that if the Australian nation wants
sustainability, then it has to start in the cities.  The urbanites have to
responsibility for their actions. At least, not dump the responsibility
on rural Australians.

Yet we have no idea of what a sustainable lifestyle even looks like. So
how can we ever create a plan to achieve it. The actions which are being
promoted and legislated are not based on hard science. They have not been
modelled, or tested or proven in any way. They are intuitive in nature. And
systems theory shows that in
almost every case when an intuitive solution is implemented, it is actually
acting in exactly the opposite direction to the true solution. That is, we
are making the problem worse, not better.

Dan McLuskey
 DPI, Mackay