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Australian rangeland futures: time now for systemic responses to interconnected challenges

Foran, Barney, Smith, Mark Stafford, Burnside, Don, Andrew, Martin, Blesing, Don, Forrest, Kate, Taylor, John
The Rangeland journal 2019 v.41 no.3 pp. 271-292
biodiversity, capital, climate, demographic statistics, governance, humans, issues and policy, land use, livelihood, livestock, mining, pastoralism, rangelands, risk, technology, wildland, Australia
Australia’s rangelands contain wildlands, relatively intact biodiversity, widespread Indigenous cultures, pastoral and mining industries all set in past and present events and mythologies. The nature of risks and threats to these rangelands is increasingly global and systemic. Future policy frameworks must acknowledge this and act accordingly. We collate current key information on land tenures and land uses, people and domestic livestock in Australian rangelands, and discuss five perspectives on how the rangelands are changing that should inform the development of integrated policy: climate and environmental change, the southern rangelands, the northern rangelands, Indigenous Australia, and governance and management. From these perspectives we argue that more attention must be paid to: ensuring a social licence to operate across a range of uses, acknowledging and supporting a younger, more Indigenous population, implementing positive aspects of technological innovation, halting capital and governance leakages, and building human capacity. A recommended set of systemic responses should therefore (i) address governance issues consistently and comprehensively, (ii) ensure that new technologies can foster the delivery of sustainable livelihoods, and (iii) focus capacity building on a community of industries where knowledge is built for the long-term, and do all three of these with an eye to the changing demographics of the rangelands.