Australian Rangeland Society

 

Dionne Walsh, ARS President.  Email: dionne@rangeiq.com.au

 

Full details of the activities and the performance of the Society can be found in the 2021 Annual Report that was sent out with the invitation to the AGM.  [A copy can also be accessed here]

I’d like to take the chance to highlight some Council and Society activities undertaken during 2021.

 

Biennial Conference

  • I’d like to start by congratulating the Organising Committee of the Longreach conference held in October.
  • It was the first time the ARS had held a joint conference and the partnership with Desert Channels Queensland resulted in a record number of registrations.
  • Pandemic-related travel restrictions threatened to derail the conference, but the Organising Committee was very agile and delivered the conference on-line. A substantial number of people travelled to Longreach to attend in person and the conference hub was a vibrant venue.
  • The next biennial conference is scheduled to be held in Broome in September 2023 with the organising committee being led by Matt Fletcher and Don Burnside.

 

Award of Excellence in Rangeland Management

  • The ARS recognised the need for an award to recognise people who are making, or have made, an outstanding contribution to rangeland science and or management, regardless of whether they are members of the Society.
  • Council is delighted to announce that Tom Mann of Charters Towers has been announced as the first ever recipient of this award. He will be presented with his medal and certificate later this year and celebrated at the next conference.
  • If you would like to nominate someone for this honour, details of the process can be found on the ARS website.

 

Strategic Planning

  • This is an on-going agenda item for both Council and the Publications Committee.
  • We aim to grow participation in ARS activities, enhance membership services, ensure financial security and increase the impact of the Society’s publications.
  • A strategic planning meeting was held in Longreach in October 2021 in conjunction with the Biennial Conference. This meeting was attended by members of Council, the Publications Committee and invited guests with an interest in the strategic direction of the Society.
  • The Strategic Plan is currently being updated as a result of this meeting, with particular emphasis on growing and retaining our membership base and consolidating the future of The Rangeland Journal.

 

Financial Position

  • The financial reports will be discussed shortly, but the management of the Society’s affairs resulted in a modest financial loss (~$11,000) in 2021, mainly caused by income being received from only one special issue of the Journal in 2021 and the profit from the conference only being received this year.
  • Profit from biennial conferences is an important source of revenue for the ARS and I’m pleased to report that we have since received $25,000 from the conference.

 

Publications Committee

  • On behalf of Council, I’d like to acknowledge the contributions made by all members of the Publications Committee, particularly the Editors of the four publications.
  • I have several people to thank who have retired from their roles on the PC:
    • Firstly to Dr Andrew Ash for his considerable service as the Interim Chair of the Publications Committee for 18 months after Ron Hacker’s retirement from the role.
    • We also give thanks to Russell Grant for his management of the ARS website for many years and wish him well for his retirement.
    • Thank you too to Sarah Moles for her management of the social media accounts for the past few years.
    • We also thank Daryl Green for his service over many years as he retires from the PC.
  • It is my pleasure to welcome new members who have joined the Publications Committee since the last AGM:
    • Dr Bradd Witt as the Chair of the PC
    • Jayne Cuddihy as the website editor, and
    • Vanessa Neale as the social media editor
    • Dr Erlina Compton as a member
  • In late 2021, Council ratified a recommendation from the PC to reduce the number of Journal issues from six to four per year. This decision was taken in response to a sharp decline in the number and quality of submitted manuscripts (anecdotally, the PC and Council are aware that this has also been experienced by other journals during 2020 and 2021). Reducing the number of issues will allow the editorial team to maintain a high standard of papers being published (i.e. quality over quantity).
  • Council also endorsed a recommendation from the PC to engage with CSIRO Publishing to commence negotiations for a new publishing contract. The current contract expires in late 2022. This decision to commence negotiations fulfils a term in the current contract, which requires the ARS to advise CSIRO Publishing of its intention to commence negotiations (or not) a year in advance of contract expiry.

 

International Rangeland Congress 2025

  • Planning for the 2025 International Rangeland Congress (IRC) in Adelaide is in full swing with all committees established.
  • The Society is the host organisation for the IRC, but the finances of ARS and IRC are being kept separate.
  • Significant financial support has been provided by the SA Convention Bureau. The ARS has provided $20,000 as ‘seed funding’ for use on planning and organising the IRC, with the understanding that these funds will be returned to the Society after the IRC.
  • Council thanks Pieter Conradie and Andrew Ash for their hard work as co-chairs of the IRC Committee in 2021, together with all committee members.

 

International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists’ (IYRP)

  • The international year was ratified by the UN and will take place in 2026.
  • Dana Kelly, David Phelps and Nicole Spiegel have been instrumental in coordinating Australia’s contribution to the proposal.
  • The Society will be instrumental in supporting and coordinating a number of events and initiatives in the lead up to, and during, the International Year to raise public awareness about the importance of rangelands and pastoralists. I encourage you to get involved.

 

I would like to finish up my report by thanking my fellow Directors of the Society, Bob Shepherd and Don Burnside, and the members of Council: Angus Whyte, Megan Munchenberg, Matt Fletcher, Pieter Conradie and Paul Erkelenz for all their hard work and commitment to the Society.

 

Thank you all for your attendance this evening. I move that the President’s Report for the 2022 AGM be accepted.