GRASSROOTS INPUT TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATES
Reinventing the ecological function of “Pastoralism” and taking it to our rangelands and nature-reserves
By Chris Henggeler, February 2005
|“The difference between “introduced” and “native” species is time.” Allan Savory|
Pastoralism with its 217-year history is new to Australia… but then (viewed in ecological terms) so is all human occupation on this island-continent… Some view Australia’s pastoral industry as having been the driving force behind the building of this relatively young Nation… Others blame Australia’s pastoral industry for the introduction of feral species and for an ongoing decline in biodiversity… But how many are aware that Australia’s pastoral industry is perhaps poised to become a world leader in the reclaiming of arid desert environments for building biodiversity and thus a sound ecological base for sustainable agriculture!
|Answer:||THE KEY IS IN HARNESSING THE ENERGY OF AUSTRALIA’S NEW MEGA-FAUNA: OUR INTRODUCED HERDING HERBIVORES|
|Question:||WHAT? (the ‘function question’)|
|Answer:||HEALTHY PLANTS NEED HEALTHY SOIL AND OCCASIONAL PRUNING; HERBIVORES ARE NATURE’S GARDENERS: THEIR ROLE IS TO MULCH AND FERTILISE THE SOIL AND TO PRUNE PLANTS.|
|Answer:||WE HUMANS (as well as all other complex organisms) RELY ON HEALTHY PRODUCTIVE LANDSCAPES TO PRODUCE CLEAN AIR, GOOD WATER AND HEALTHY FOOD THAT IS RICH IN ENERGY.|
The information age has brought to Pastoralism: New global knowledge, new local skills…
With this come: New areas of research, new fields of employment, new wealth…
These are indeed exciting times for people on the land. All over Australia we are beginning to see proactive change at the grass roots:
- Holistic Management - A new framework for making decisions
- Soil Foodweb Inc. - A better understanding productive living soils
- Resource Consulting Services - "Redesigning Agriculture"
- Low Stress Stockhandling - Working with the nature of your animals...
- Biodynamic AgriCulture Australia - Working with natural cycles...
Kachana Pastoral Company uses this new knowledge to focus on the practical management aspects of catchment and rangeland issues in broader landscape settings:
- Building healthy productive soil
- Ensuring reliable flows of good clean water in our creek-systems
- Trapping carbon by increasing biodiversity in our soil, plant and animal communities
- Detoxification of areas where mistakes have been made in the past
- Revitalising areas that have a known history of higher levels of productivity and biodiversity
- Offering Landscape Management Advice
- Offering our “out-door out-back classroom” for workshops, seminars and practical skill-training
- Educational workshops
- The Byrne Terry Ellenbrae Fund: Skill training for agricultural students or young farmers in ecological crisis zones.
We explore the roles and potential of Australia’s own unique species. However we also believe in including the use of New Australians (introduced species: people, animals, plants, etc.) to beneficially impact our rangeland-landscapes. Agriculture and Pastoralism in particular are uniquely positioned to additionally serve larger community-interests by being able to provide many of the outcomes aspired to and listed in Natural Resource Management plans.
We do however also harbour a particular concern: Private caring land-managers have arguably become a rare and endangered species… they remain however a key-species (without them economies fail)… Theirs is the task to:
- Marry the demands of extractive commerce with production that is dictated by natural cycles and forces
- Appease armies of publicly funded politicians and bureaucrats who are paid to ‘care about the land’
- With restricted funds, translate conflicting information and regulation into actual ‘ongoing care for the land’ (in many instances this involves environmental challenges that have been inherited from earlier forms of management.)
When will Australia’s pastoral industry become a world leader in the reclaiming of arid desert environments for building biodiversity?
|Answer:||WHEN ENOUGH KEY-PEOPLE BEGIN TO ASK: “‘WHAT’? AND ‘WHY’?”|
Solar energy is what fuels our biosphere… “GREEN” is a good indicator that new energy is entering our global economic equation… Modern Pastoralism has the ability to make soil a renewable resource!