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National Rangelands R&D Programme

Australia's rangelands cover vast areas of the continent. They generally have low carrying capacities, are fragile and are subject to soil erosion and compaction, surface sealing and poor water penetration, and invasion by exotic plants. Grazing by domestic, native and feral animals adds pressure to land that may already be under stress. Remedial action on degraded rangelands can cost more than the production from the land is worth.

Their vast size also means that any such action may be difficult to monitor.

The National Rangelands R&D Programme linked research to regional and property planning so that decision making enhances long-term sustainability.

Researchers assessed economic and ecological impacts of different land uses so that options at all levels could be explored. In one project, groups in the north-east goldfields of WA developed decision rules for different land classes to identify opportunities for sharing resources and management between sectors.

In a similar project in the mulga lands of western NSW work looked at institutional structures in the region so that shared visions and priorities could be used to implement resource use and management change. Work in the Central Highlands region of Queensland is focussed on capacity building in the local region, and in building structures to support local negotiation and decision making between different sectors.

Since European settlement there has been a huge expansion in the availability of water in the rangelands, resulting in increases in the level of total grazing pressure. There is firm evidence that this is leading to loss of biodiversity. Another project in this programme  examined the spatial and economic impacts of turning off remote waters as a means of reducing grazing and maintaining biodiversity.

The National Rangelands R&D Programme concluded in 2001.

Collaborating organisations

Lead agencies:

Land & Water Australia, CSIRO, State Government agencies.

Funding partner:

 Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services

Key Programme Outputs

id: 3186 / created: 15 April, 2009 / last updated: 22 April, 2009