David Phelps, ARS President and Director, DAF Office,  Landsborough Hwy, Longreach  Qld  4730.  Email:president@austrangesoc.com.au


This report highlights Australian Rangeland Society achievements for 2017, with details available in the audited Directors report and the minutes from this meeting.

I wish to thank my Council and Directors, the Conference committee and the publications committee.

In combination, your tireless efforts have helped the ARS grow during 2017, reversing the trend of previous years and also of many organisations globally. Whilst we should not rest on our laurels, it is important to recognise the important achievements towards building a stronger ARS.

Thank you to Don Burnside in your continuing role as Finance and Audit Officer, and to Bob Shepherd for accepting the role of Secretary in 2017.

Key strategic issues for Council during 2017 included consolidating our financial position and growing our membership.

Thanks to the efforts of Carol Ireland, Don Burnside and the Port Augusta conference committee, the ARS has recovered from a loss of $40,000 in 2016 to post a profit of over $50,000 for 2017. This represents a $90,000 turn-around, and solidifies our financial position. Don will provide more details in the finance report.

In the past, conferences have been profitable and grown our membership, and Council introduced financial targets in addition to our goals of hosting conferences that are fantastic communication, networking and learning experiences.

I wish to thank the 2017 conference committee for embracing these targets, and running a fabulous conference at Port Augusta. In particular I wish to thank the committee chair, John Gavin, and sponsorship manager, Kate Forrest, for their commitment and dedication towards the ARS and rangeland science.

The ARS had 90 institutional subscribers of the TRJ. Institutional subscribers receive the Journal through CSIRO Publishing, but are not society members. Examples include public and academic libraries, and represent a global audience for our flagship publication. Importantly, we had 231 individual and company members at the close of 2017, an improvement of 49 over the previous year. Although some of these are complimentary members, importantly, it reverses the trend of declining membership over previous years. Please continue to spread the word about the ARS, and help to continue to grow our membership.

Annabel Walsh, who had taken on the ARS Membership duties, had to resign due to unforeseen circumstances. I thank Annabel for her efforts in a number of roles over the years, and wish her all the best. We have worked with our website providers to automate the Membership process as much as possible, including overcoming initial teething problems from 2016. I trust everyone is now able to easily pay their membership, and enjoy the benefits that it brings.

The Rangeland Journal continues to provide value to an international rangelands audience. Volume 39 was successfully published for 2017, finishing the year with the ‘Restore, Regenerate, Revegetate’ Special Issue as issues 5 and 6 due to a large number of quality papers. We look forward to Special Issues in 2018 potentially focussing on Mongolia and the Port Augusta conference. The Journal’s Impact Factor has steadily improved over the last 4 years, and was sitting at 1.21 at the end of 2016. Submissions continue to come mainly from Australia, China, Europe and the Middle East.

A new contract with CSIRO Publishing has been signed, and during this year TRJ will be available direct from the members’ area of the ARS website – just one benefit of the new arrangement.

I thank Paul Novelly, as Editor in Chief of TRJ and his dedicated editorial team, and Ron Hacker, as Chair of the tireless Publications Committee for their contributions over 2017. I wish to congratulate Ron for his induction as an ARS Fellow during 2017 for his career-long contributions to Australian and International rangeland science.

We wish to welcome Drs S.R. McLeod, A. Waters-Bayer and S. G. Bray, and Prof. G. I. Metternicht to editorial roles, and thank N.D. MacLeod and B. Bestelmeyer for their editorial contributions over the years.

The Publications Committee also manage the ARS newsletter, website and social media – and I welcome Jodie Ward as our social media editor. I wish to thank Amber Marshall for her efforts in building a social media presence during her time in this role, and wish Amber all the bet for her future endeavours.

Noelene Duckett has devoted many years to the role of Newsletter editor, and was instrumental in transitioning it to an on-line publication ready for 2017. Feedback is positive of the new format, which continues to provide interesting articles in the area of rangeland management.

One Travel Grant was awarded for 2017, to Dr Peter O’Reagain to present a paper on the Wambiana Grazing Trial at the Society for Range Management’s Annual Meeting in St George, Utah USA in February 2017. He also travelled elsewhere in the US rangelands and submitted an informative report on his experiences to the Range Management Newsletter.

Your Council continues to renew the ARS strategic plans, and held a joint strategic planning workshop with the Publications Committee at Port Augusta in September 2017, facilitated by past-President Merri Tothill. The outputs from the meeting include actions to improve services to members, to grow membership, develop strategic alliances with like-minded organisations and to broaden the membership base, especially to attract a larger number of pastoralists.