The Annual General Meeting of the Society was held on the 27 May 2020 with 14 people calling in via video link or phone.
The Annual and Financial Report for the year end 31 December 2019 was tabled during meeting with the full copy of the report available here.
As indicated in the Report, the following major Council activities occurred during 2019:
- Strategic Planning is an on-going agenda item for the Council and the Publications Committee aiming to grow participation in ARS activities, enhance membership services, ensure financial security and increase the impact of the Rangeland Journal. The main actions taken in 2019 were advocacy for investment in rangeland R, D & E, commitment to publishing more technical material in the Range Management Newsletter via sharing content with a range of identified like-minded organisations, and commencing the implementation of recommended actions to improve the reach and value of the Society’s social media. Further, the Society has reached out to like- minded organisations such as the Royal Society of Queensland and Natural Resource Management groups to explore opportunities for collaboration.
- The decision by Council to offer three-year memberships at a slight discount in 2017, in addition to standard annual renewals was again vindicated with 25 members (approximately 11%) holding three year memberships at the start of 2020. The 21 members whose first three year membership expired at the end of 2019 are being encouraged to take up this option for 2020 to 2022. Owing to the improved financial position of the Society since 2017, no increase in subscription rates was applied to 2019 renewals, or will be applied to 2020 fees.
- The Society launched a new Award in 2019. The Award of Excellence in Rangeland Management, to be presented annually will recognise people who have made or are making a significant contribution to rangeland management, across biophysical, economic, social and governance domains (see further information below).
- Five issues of Volume 41 of The Rangeland Journal were published in 2019, and the final edition (a Special Issue) to be published early in 2020. A Virtual Issue was also published to encourage increased readership, citations and submissions. Two Special Issues for publication are in preparation for 2020, with the Publications Committee developing a business plan to promote the concept of Special Issues to organisations in Australia and internationally (see further information below).
- Two issues of the Range Management Newsletter were published during the year, with the third issue for 2019 to be published in early 2020. As indicated above, a range of possible initiatives were identified to increase the value of the RMN to members. These are being implemented (see further information below).
- The Society’s exposure through social media use by members and others is increasing slowly but steadily and represents an area where future growth will be encouraged through implementation of recommendations provided through a review of the ARS’ social media in 2018 (see further information below).
- The 20th Biennial Conference was held in Canberra in September 2019. The conference, which attracted 267 delegates was successful in all respects, and Council congratulated Dr Mark Stafford Smith and his Organising Committee for their sound efforts. The program, which was designed to attract people from a range of interests related to rangelands, in particular young career professionals and those interested in public policy was welcomed by those attending. Sound planning by the Organising Committee, and better than expected sponsorship (including ‘in kind’ sponsorship) resulted in an excellent financial outcome which has increased the ARS financial reserves. Council was represented on the Organising Committee by Dr Cathy Waters.
- The Australian Rangeland Society submitted a bid for the 2025 International Rangeland Congress (IRC) it to be held in Australia. The sponsoring organisation, host nation and venue will be decided at the 2020 Congress which is being held in Nairobi, Kenya. A small team of ARS members, led ably by Pieter Conradie, evaluated locations and chose Adelaide on the basis of the facilities available, the level of financial assistance to be provided by the Adelaide Convention Bureau, and the accessibility of the city for incoming international delegates. Considerable assistance in preparing the bid was provided by the Adelaide Convention Bureau which resulted in a high quality bid being submitted to the IRC Continuing Committee in October 2019. The host nation nomination and selection process is managed by the IRC Continuing Committee which has representatives from all rangeland regions of the world. The Australian representatives are Dr Dana Kelly (President, IRC Continuing Committee and ARS member) and Dr David Phelps (President, ARS).
- The ARS continues to support the concept of an ‘International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists’ (IYRP) proposed by the UN and member countries. Following from the successful application for the Society to be accredited as an observer to the governing body of UN Environment Assembly, the Society has advocated for the IYRP in letters sent to the Minister for Agriculture in Australia and the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia.
Further detailed information about the Society’s finances, Biennial Conferences and publications is available in the Annual Report.