Welcome folks,
                       This edition features a fair bit on Kyoto which might
enlighten / concern  many.
Jock Douglas`s interview about ALMS and some photos are on our web site now.
Don`t forget to have your say about Environmental Management systems .. email
your views to ems@affa.gov.au before  March 31st

(1) Some news in brief
(2) Coleambally water
(3) NSW Water trading laws enfuriating irrigators
(4) Clunes (Vic) water squeeze
(5) Endangered Parrot concerns put SA Wind Farms in doubt
(6) Biological  Control issues
(7) What NRM management framework do we go by? - Leon Ashby
(8) Carbon accounting and cattle - a volatile mix?
(9) Controversial SA drain issue resolved
(10) Fire Research
(11) Dog meat on the menu?
(12) Poddy calves the focus of animal welfare lobbyists
(13) Vic Marine Parks and compensation
(14) More on Environmentalism as a religion - Steve Baker & Leon Ashby
(15) Tree Roots and aquifers - Judith McGeorge
(17) Global warming - Skeptical Environmentalist
(1) Some news in brief
Qld DNRM Salinity Report estimates 1.6 million Ha could be affected in Qld if
nothing is done in the interim
 Some European countries (e.g. Denmark) are embracing off shore wind farms  
Australia is still about 5 to 10 years away from such developments
King Island looks like having two new wind turbines which will make the
island almost self sufficient in power generation.  A public forum found
almost everyone welcomed the project.
 West Australian scientists have now isolated the lupin gene that causes the
toxic condition known as 'lupinosis and hope to have the super resistant
lupin seed available in about 5 years.
 Over 47 organisations will get together for a national forum next month to
work out clear responsibilities for each group involved with weeds so there
is no overlap or gaps of responsibilities across Australia.
The Tandou cotton farm in Western New South Wales is attempting to cut its
water use by replacing flood irrigation, with modern drip irrigation systems.
While drip irrigation leads to higher yields and generally better quality
cotton the high cost is inhibiting and at this stage just over 5% of the
fourteen thousand hectares are irrigated
Landholders across Queensland are doing their bit to preserve wildlife
habitat with more than two-thousand property owners signing on to the Land
for Wildlife program.
An agricultural commentator (Associate Professor Roger Packham) says we have
the capacity to feed the world's population, without GMO's. Roger also
suggests that agriculture and ethical issues are becoming more intertwined
than ever before.

 (2) Coleambally water

On the John Laws show (radio) A spokesman for Coleambally Irrigators (David
Comben?) said irrigators and the community are angry about the way
environmental flows are decided. They believe this has been a major factor in
the whole water shortage issue. David said people in the DLWC who do not live
in the area have determined a flow of so much water and this amount is
released in all years. David said that the community wants environmental
flows to be a proportion of water so if it`s a dry year the environmental
flow shares the seasonal fluctuations and irrigators do not miss out as much
as they have this year. Job losses are now affecting the community.

(3) NSW Water trading laws enfuriating irrigators

Irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Valley are becoming increasingly frustrated
over the State Governments complex water management rules. Hundreds of
Horticultural producers have water to spare, and many of them are in a
position to transfer it to summer crop farmers in the nearby Coleambally
district, whose crops are parched. But they've been told it isn't possible
under water trading rules.
NSW govt blamed for expensive water

 NSW  prices for temporary water have reached record levels in recent trading
in both the Murrumbidgee and Goulburn systems.Water traders are saying water
authorities in Australia need to manage the resource more efficiently
otherwise similar price hikes will be felt in other systems. At a water
auction in Leeton in NSW, last week, an irrigator paid 210 dollars a
megalitre  This time last year, it was less than $35 dollars a megalitre.
Water trader, Anthony Petch says the price water hike is partly due to water
allocations being mismanaged. David Harriss, (DLWC) says the department is
not to blame for the price increase. He says the price hike arose because
there was not sufficient inflows during the spring months.

(4) Clunes (Vic) water squeeze

Town water users will have access to a contentious groundwater resource in
central Victoria. After a 3 year battle Clunes, will now be connected to
precious groundwater used by farmers for irrigation. Potato farmers claim,
however that there is not enough water to firfill all users needs. The
farmers say it raises questions about the difficulties of measuring
groundwater. The decision  to connect Clunes to the groundwater supply
follows three years of discussions, surveys and testing of the aquifer. An
initial assessment found that the aquifer couldn't sustain any more bores,
but a later report found that the aquifer could cope. The Ascot and District
Groundwater Users group have rejected the findings by NRE, saying since the
current bores aren't metered it's impossible to know how much water is in the
aquifer and how much is being used.

(5) Endangered Parrot concerns put SA Wind Farms in doubt

Environment Australia is considering stopping (under the EPBC act) at least
one wind farm on the SE coast of SA due to research showing one endangered
orange bellied parrot MAY be killed every 16 years by the windmills.

* This is a situation where ethics  begin to affect decisions. In future
decision making we may have to consider

(a) What sort of risk is too much for an endangered species (e.g. deaths by
planes, cars, windmills, stock etc)

(b) What level of death rate is acceptable (one in 100 years? - one per year?)

(c) Do we look at endangered species death rates caused by other animals,
storms, old age etc to decide an acceptable death rate from human activities?

(d) Who decides what risk level is the dividing line - the community - or a
couple of people in Environment Australia?)

Comments anyone?

(6) Biological  Control issues
(a) -Spray

Tasmanian researchers are leading the way in developing an enviromentally
friendly plantation forestry spray to fight the devastating leaf beetle. The
pest costs the plantation industry millions of dollars a year in reduced wood
production.  Forestry Tasmania is pushing for the registration of a
biologically derived insecticide which has a 80 percent success rate.

(b) Lady Bird welcomed

 Scientists have just discovered a ladybird with an appettite for aphids,
number one enemy for some of our biggest cropping industries. Aphids cost the
Australian sorghum industry, to name just one, eight million dollars a year
in lost production and they've also been identified as carrier of the cotton
disease 'bunchy top'.
Department of Primary Industries entomologist Bernie Franzmann says a new
ladybird that originated from Europe, Russia and China has been found here in
Queensland and will fill a unique niche in integrated pest management programs

(c) Costly Foxes

Millions of dollars are needed to ensure the recently discovered small Tas
Fox population is removed. The Tas Govt is asking for Federal funds to help.

(7) What NRM management framework do we go by? - Leon Ashby

The above two issues (overseas ladybird being welcomed into Australia`s
ecosystems and the Fox being eradicated from Tasmania) display a sharp
contrast about whether more species should be added to ecosystems.  

  It is often stated that the greater number of species in an ecosystem will
mean a greater stability for an ecosystem. But is this statement always true?
If we look at why we eradicate  weeds and pest species it seems to be that
they will decrease many "wanted" species and perhaps cause greater ecosystem
instability (inbalance - e.g. a large fox population in Tasmania would cause
a decline in several / many native animal populations)
Compare this with the ladybird from overseas which will reduce aphid numbers
and limit aphid destruction generally increasing ecosystem stability

Is there any consistency in these two examples?

I think there is and it`s the fact that the "human decision making" factor is
needed to keep some sort of balance in ecosystems. In many instances we are
the "predator" that limits other species from causing severe ecological
damage (e.g. viruses, disease causing bacteria, feral animals, etc)
It other cases we sometimes cause an imbalance, but then gradually find ways
to overcome the problems we cause.
A myth (that non management is superior to active management) has arisen due
to the highlighting of problems humanity has caused, while our positive
achievements are rarely mentioned. This myth continues to influence debates
on NRM decisions without being challenged head on.

(8) Carbon accounting and cattle - a volatile mix?

Two articles on Greenhouse gases and the beef industry were in the latest
edition of the Australian Farm journal.  Here are some brief points

Methane emissions from ruminants (sheep & cattle) are major greenhouse gases
emitted by Agriculture
Dairy cows emit about 115 kgs of methane, beef cows 74kgs and sheep 6.6 kgs
per year
If Kyoto comes into force in 2008, the pastoral industry is going to be
severly affected

An average Qld beef property (1157 head) will produce 112 tonnes of methane
per yr and methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so 2352
tonnes of CO2 equivalents are emitted by the average beef property.
fuel emissions are not that large for the average property (an extra 39.5
tonnes of CO2 equivalents)
Therefore a total 2392 Tonnes CO2 equivalent will be emitted by the average
Qld beef property

Under the proposed Kyoto protocol to run ruminants  graziers will have to pay
for their greenhouse gas emissions
The rate for one tonne of carbon is estimated to be around $40 / tonne, but
may be as high as $150 per tonne
Therefore the average beef producer could be up for between $93,000 and
$359,000 per year in emissions charges (between $90 and $310 per head)

The articles mentioned some of the likely consequences if this did happen and
I have added a few more, which are.
(1) Grazing profitability to crash
(2) A fall in the value of grazing land
(3) More land going into crops,
(4) Some graziers changing from ruminants to non ruminant animals
(5) Some graziers will use a rumen modifyer to reduce (but not eliminate)
(6) Some land would be destocked.
(7) The price of meat would go up (although the authors claim this will not

In my humble opinion the way the greenhouse issue is going is looking shoddy
and here are my reasons

(A) The thinking is unclear. It should be "lets look at the whole greenhouse
/ global warming issue and set some criteria which has to be confirmed about
the negative impacts versus the positive impacts BEFORE agreeing to any
protocol." rather than the current process of deciding before the data comes

(B) While people such as John Rolfe (Central Qld University) are doing a good
job pinning down some of the science around the issue, there is much not yet
sorted out as far as sequestration / emission data is concerned (e.g. Qld
tree thickening details and whether native forests will be included)  

(C) If cattle producers have to pay for methane emissions, they should also
be credited with sequestration when grass grows and uses CO2 from the air.

(D) There are two parts to the greenhouse issue -  Greenhouse gases that come
from non recycling sources (oil, gas, coal) and  those that come from
recycling sources (biomass)
The true cause of increased Greenhouse gases is of course the non recycling
sources, so maybe only that issue should be addressed

Comments anyone?
(9)  Controversial SA drain issue resolved

According to Upper South East Landholder, Tom Brinkworth, the Mandina
Marshes, inland from the Coorong, are dying becasue they have been sitting in
water for three years. To save the marshes, Mr Brinkworth has constructed a
bypass to prevent water flowing from the Water Valley Drain into the marsh
area. The problem is, he cleared  1 hectare to save 4500 hectares without
permission.. Mr Brinkworth says the whole area is under about 2 foot of
water, the trees are dead, and the area is devastated. He says it would be a
crime to leave it as it is.
The drainage board has met with Mr Brinkworth, and come to a solution.  The
most significant point being that both parties agree there needs to be
flexibility in the way water is managed in the South East

(10) Fire Research

 The call for more research has been underlined by the visit of a group of
world fire experts to Sydney this month. The group is here to hold a
preliminary meeting ahead of the 3rd International Wild-Land Fire Conference,
which will take place in Australia in October next year. And one issue high
on the agenda is the need for greater understanding of the use of controlled
burns to prevent fires. Denny Truesdale, who co-ordinates America's National
Fire Plan, says the controlled burn is still not being used enough to prevent
fires. He says bush "fuel loadings" have been allowed to build up across the
US over the past hundred years by policies designed to preserve forest.

(11) Dog meat on the menu?
A group of South Korean restaurant owners have been forced to stop
encouraging more people to eat dogs. The restauranteurs want to promote the
consumption of dog meat, and they're also lobbying for legislation to
classify dogs as livestock. But this has led animal welfare campaigners to
launch protests. Around 100 restaurants were to hold an expose' on the
age-old tradition, in the lead up to the World Cup soccer finals.

(12) Poddy calves the focus of animal welfare lobbyists
The dairy industry has today rejected claims that some farmers are not
properly caring for bull-calves. Animal welfare activists are calling for a
review of the way young stock are handled and sold.  the lobbyists are
launching a legal challenge. Seven people faced a total of 28 charges of
animal cruelty, in relation to the alleged mistreatment of 10 newborn calves
and four dairy cows, at the Singleton Sale Yards.
(13) Vic Marine Parks and compensation

Fishermen affected by 12 proposed Marine National Parks along the states
coastline are closer to compensation today. The VIC government says it is
still committed to introducing the controversial parks which have caused the
first major protests against the Bracks Labor government. Sheryl Garbutt said
the government will reintroduce the Marine Parks legislation with a new
compensation proposal.
 The Industry has in the past stated 80 million dollars would be required to
compensate fishers

* This issue could assist with Property Rights at COAG
(14) More on Environmentalism as a religion

Excerpts from a reply by Steve Baker (Friends of the Earth)

Dear Leon,

I read your reply to me in your newsletter with interest.

I was particularly interested in your interpretation of how some use
environmental dogma and how it might evolve to gain general public

While I don't disagree that there are 'environmentalists' out there that
would use inappropriate language to describe environmental management and
issues and that for them at least this becomes a dogma,  I do think that some
landholders have a tendancy to overstate these cases while conveniently
ignoring when they are guilty of doing the same thing.

First my experience of the media is that they will take the
most reactive statements they have access to and use them to create the most
sensational story they can, this often means that the more reasonable
statements and comments, be they from environmentalists or industry people,
tend to be ignored.

Second, I think there is a danger of accepting 'evidence'
that supports one view but not to accept 'evidence' that does not, the
old 'my scientist' is better than 'your scientist' cliche.

Thirdly, as we are all humans and use the same basic sociocultural system of
arguement and decision making,  there are just as many un-proven, blindly
accepted and promoted beliefs amongst primary producer, developers and
industry managers
as there are amongst environmentalists.

Leon, I don't disagree that there are environmentalists that make rash
statement and have unfounded beliefs. I don't disagree that some of these
will influence community decision makers and effects everyone. I don't
disagree that some of this influence may end up not in the interests of the
community. However remember the old say about those in glass house throwing
stones. There are many 'bush' myths and they have had, and continue to have,
major influence over our communities and they way they operate. If there is
such a thing as social progress then perhaps it will evolve regardless of the
myths perpetrators by some representatives of both sides.

Steve Baker
Hi Steve,
              Thanks for your reply. You make some very good points
I certainly agree beliefs are an important part of our lives, and are
essential to new endeavours, but I consider that while they are unsupported
beliefs, they should not be used to restrict or control people`s actions
until research, data or other evidence supports the belief. Consider this.

Before we sit on a chair or get on a Jet for the first time we have to have a
belief that the chair will hold us up or the jet will take us to our
destination safely. Without some sort of belief we will not carry out these
new actions.
We all know how Thomas Edison performed 100 unsuccessful light bulb
experiments before one worked, which showed tremendous belief, but until it
was achieved there was no point in relying on the idea.  
But our beliefs can be wrong as well, and the belief in the Titanic being
unsinkable is the classic example.

The difficulty comes where an unsupported belief is so ingrained into a
culture, that to challenge it is seen as "anti the culture"
Allan Savory says that when he first suggested cattle could be bunched
together in big herds to stir up the ground (animal impact) to improve the
soil and improve grass establishment, it was like he had thrown a pork chop
into the synagogue.- it was that confronting.
Several people have said to me that our culture is so shallow thinking that
what we (as a society) need to learn is HOW TO THINK THROUGH ISSUES rather
than our views being yo yoed between claim and counter claim which leaves
people confused or polarised.

But then shallow thinking is probably normal. The situation of Nazi Germany
having it`s population believe in the superiority of the Aryan race is one
such example . How could so many good people be misled by wrong beliefs into
barbarous crimes? Which really means why didn`t the people who knew those
beliefs were wrong speak out? - It comes back to those who do see the issue
clearly (or at least differently) being able to be heard. We need a way that
allows ordinary people to confront strongly held beliefs that may be wrong.
In all spheres - political, environmental, economic, social and so on.

The many landholders we are associated with see it as very important to trial
any  environmental idea or belief that comes along.
In fact that is how come so much land management progress has been made,
trial and error until something works.
In our experience not too many land managers blindly accept anything. Most
have a
"Let`s try it and see" attitude, or at least "let the neighbour try it first".
I`m not wanting to be harsh, but I believe this is vastly different to the
environmental groups and govt departments which do not have a lot of people
in them with successful land management experience.
It seems to me landholders assumed beliefs are mostly shaped by our
experiences, such as when Jane first saw burning in Qld being safely done on
40 degree days, it confronted  her beliefs because she only knew of fires
getting out of control when temperatures went over 30 degrees.
Queenslanders who run a beast to 50 acres find it hard to believe my brother
milks 200 cows on 300 acres and the soil is just pure limestone with one inch
of topsoil.

We Landholders often have experiences that confront our assumed beliefs
regularly when observing and managing land, but for people who have never
managed land and know everything from a textbook, their beliefs are more
strongly held because purely intellectual learning tends to be inflexible.

Allan Savory tells another story of how a visiting lecturer from Cambridge
said that research had shown no use for the flap of flesh behind a
crocodile`s ear, and that despite having the musculature to move the flap,
the croc never did so. Savory had a pet croc that moved it`s ears when teased
and said so to the lecturer, but there was no way that the lecturer could
accept that as true. Controlled experiments and texts are absolute in many
people`s minds.

One of our aims is to confront unsubstantiated and wrong beliefs and try to
give the public a chance to consider evidence and research from a wide
variety of sources - not just the data that supports the accepted view. For
anyone (including us) to just have a rigid set of beliefs about how the
environment works and not be prepared to modify or even throw out those ideas
if they are truly incorrect is not very smart.

 We would like to think that our quest is for the truth (or at least an
improving understanding of the environment) - even if it hurts. We appreciate
anyone who also is  prepared to question, think, observe and debate.


(16) Tree Roots and aquifers - Judith McGeorge (Qld)

Hi Leon,
            We have all bores on Lynwood- some of which have  box and
coolibahs in close proximity- nearest 50 feet-
I have seen matts of fine fibrous tree roots on the pumping columms from time
to time- at pumping depth 90' on both where this has been observed- however
considering the distance of tree from the bore it is a fair travel- I have
noticed when drilling was taking place bits of fine root in the tailings-
most would have been around 90'. Though I have heard from another landholder
who found fine fibrous roots in a bore hole at 180'- so quite obviously  they
would if prolific in plantation status have some impact on ground water,

Best wishes Judith McGeorge

* Hi Judith,
                Yes there is a lot not appreciated about tree root systems.
We have been in limestone caves where stringy bark tree roots were 50 - 80
feet underground. They had followed cracks in the limestone, yet in the 30
foot deep limestone quarry where Jane`s father cuts building limestone from,
there are stringy bark trees growing on the surface right next to the quarry,
but no tree roots seem to go further than 15 feet down

And Finally
(17) Global Warming  - a quick summary of 66 pages from the Skeptical
Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg

The basic greenhouse effect is good - If the atomosphere did not contain
Greenhouse gases the average temp on the earth would be approx 33 deg C colder
80 % of the extra CO2 comes from oil, coal & gas  combustion

The centuries before 1900 were much colder. This phenomenon is  known  as the
"little ice age" (1400 - 1900)
From 900 -1100 there was a period known as the "Medieval Warm period", (2-3
deg C warmer) This made possible the colonisation of Greenland and
Newfoundland by the Vikings,.... the Japanese cherry blossoms returned to
early blooming in the 12th century and the snow line on the Rocky Mountains
was 300 metres higher.

If we are going to react sensibly to the challenge of global warming, there
are at least 6 important - and controversial - questions we need to ask

(1) How much effect does CO2 have on the temperature? The important question
is not whether the climate is affected by human CO2, but HOW MUCH.

(2) Could there be other causes behind the increasing temperature?

(3) Are the greenhouse scenarios reasonable?  When we are told what will
happen, we must ask if these predictions are based on reasonable assumptions.

(4) What are the consequences of a possible temperature increase?

(5) What are the costs of curbing versus not curbing CO2 emissions? If we are
to make an informed decision on Global warming, we need to know the costs of
not acting but also the costs of acting

(6) How should we choose what to do? What considerations should we employ to
decide between the costs of action and costs of inaction.

(1) How much effect does CO2 have on the temperature?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been running
computer models over the last decade on predicting global temperature. The
early model (1990) predicted a temp increase of twice that which has occurred
by 2000

 The troposphere (lowest part of the atomosphere - 10 -13 kms up) has had
little or no temp increase since measurements began in 1979

IPCC models assume lots of unknown effects such as water vapour feedback,
cloud, and small particle effects, so while global warming will occur over
the next 100 years and it`s said to be between 1.43 and 5.04 degrees C, much
more accurate models are a decade away.

(2) Could there be other causes behind the increasing temperature?

*There is a correlation between sunspot period and northern hemisphere
temperature change (more sunspots = higher global temp) over a 40 year period
* Other research shows cloud cover (which reflects the sun`s rays, while at
the same time keeping in warmth also has an overall cooling affect.)

Overall some warming can be attributed to sunspots and some to greenhouse
(3) Are the greenhouse scenarios reasonable?

The IPCC formulated 6 scenarios in 1992, but tends to now use the "business
as usual" scenario which
* overestimates world population projections and tropical forest clearing,
* assumes no change in human behavior
* expects methane gas concentration to increase when it is approaching a
steady state
* assumes CO2 increase to be 0.64 % per year instead of the 0.43 to 0.47%
which has been observed
* assumes all Greenhouse gases to increase at 0.85 % instead of 0.58%
recorded in the 1990`s

The most reasonable expectation is for an global temperature increase of less
than 2 degrees C in the next 100 years, but if governments focussed on
increasing research into renewable energy instead of limiting carbon
emissions, then the reliance on fossil fuel energy generation would decrease
quicker as renewable energy became cheaper

(4) What are the consequences of a possible temperature increase?

The IPCC assumes an increase in rainfall of 10 - 15 %
Industrialized countries can expect a longer growing season and increased
production due to more CO2 acting as a fertilizer.
Developing countries may be negatively affected, but since most of the effect
is assumed for 60 years away, then these countries may be much richer and
better able to handle any consequences.
Predictions of Sea level rises have been steadily decreasing and are
predicted by the IPCC to be 31 - 49 cms in the next 100 years. Almost all
countries would (by then) be expected to be rich enough to afford protecting
their citizens from any flooding.

The IPCC finds higher temperatures will cause an increase in death and
illness especially among the old and poor, but does not discuss a richer
world being able to afford air conditioning or fewer people dying from cold

The IPCC says "Overall there is no evidence that extreme weather events, or
climate variability, has increased, in a global sense, through the twentieth

The UN World Meteorological Organisation concluded "the very modest available
evidence poiunts to an expectation of little or no change in global cyclone

Global warming of 0.6 Degrees C has not occurred evenly, there is a general
strong trend that cold temperatures have increased most (mainly at night, in
winter, and in cold places)

(5) What are the costs of curbing versus not curbing CO2 emissions?

Unfortunately the IPCC has decided to no longer look at the economics of
climate change, but rather on how to curb further greenhouse gas emissions,
but the former details estimate it will cost around 1.5 -2 % of global GDP
with the developing world requiring  2 - 9 % of it`s GDP

Several models predict Kyoto will reduce temperatures (in 2100) by 0.15
degrees less than if nothing was done, which corresponds to a mere 6 years
difference ( the temp reached in 2094 is postponed to 2100)
Jerry Mahlman (Princeton University) says it might take another 30 Kyotos
(agreements) over the next century to truly control warming

The average cost (used from every different prediction) of Kyoto ranges from
$346 billion (1.5% of GDP) to $75 billion depending on which scenario is used
(ranging from no carbon trading to full Global carbon trading)

Since Kyoto does not put any limits on emissions from developing countries,
it would be expected that much carbon intensive production will merely move
to these countries

A huge hurdle would persist in ensuring compliance among countries with weak
administrations and the possible future abandonment of present committments

(6) What should we do?

With the best intentions of doing something about global warming we could end
up burdening the global community with a cost even twice that of global
As the Kyoto Protocol is unlikely to be implemented with global trading,
simply because of the staggering amounts involved in distributing the initial
emission rights and the consequent redistribution, Kyoto represents a waste
of global resources.

In fact the cost of Kyoto for the US alone would more than amply cover the
ENTIRE expense for providing the whole of mankind with clean drinking water
and sanitation. Kyoto just delays the consequences 6 years