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The Rangeland Journal Abstracts

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The following abstracts are from the latest issues of The Rangeland Journal:

The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (4) September, 2019 


Decline in body condition and high drought mortality limit the spread of wild chital deer in north-east Queensland, Australia

Kurt WatterA,C, Greg BaxterA, Michael BrennanB, Anthony PopleB and Peter MurrayA


- Author Affiliations

ASchool of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Qld 4343, Australia.

BBiosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 293–299
Submitted: 26 November 2018  Accepted: 17 June 2019   Published: 10 August 2019


Chital deer (Axis axis) were introduced to the Burdekin district of northern Queensland, Australia in 1886. Compared with most successful ungulate introductions they have been slow to expand their distribution and increase in abundance (Moriarty 2004). In this study we consider the possibility that forage shortages caused by periodic droughts have caused sufficient mortalities to limit the increase and spread of chital in the region. The Burdekin district experiences fluctuations in forage according to seasonal rainfall as well as multi-year droughts. This study recorded the decline in body condition, measured as kidney fat index (KFI) and bone marrow fat (BMF), over the wet and dry seasons of two successive years in two chital deer populations during a period when annual rainfall was ~40% below average. We relate the falls in mean KFI from ~45–15%, and mean BMF from ~80–50% to the surveyed decline in chital populations of ~80%. The extent of the decline implies increased mortalities in all age classes as well as reduced reproductive output. We propose that it is likely that chital populations have experienced several such drought mortality events since the 1890s which have contributed to their limited spread.


Additional keywords: Axis axis, bone marrow fat, kidney fat index.



Disturbance by grazing and the presence of rodents facilitates the dominance of the unpalatable grass Achnatherum inebrians in alpine meadows of northern China

Xiang YaoA, Qing ChaiA, Taixiang ChenA, Zhenjiang ChenA, Xuekai WeiA, Gensheng BaoB, Meiling SongB, Wanrong WeiA, Xingxu ZhangA, Chunjie LiA,C and Zhibiao NanA

- Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Engineering Research Center of Grassland Industry, Ministry of Education, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China.

BState Key Laboratory of Plateau Ecology and Agriculture, Qinghai University, Qinghai Academy of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Xining 810016, Qinghai, China.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 301–312
Submitted: 19 October 2018  Accepted: 6 July 2019   Published: 16 September 2019


Unpalatable plants reportedly serve as a biodiversity refuge. However, few studies have been conducted to evaluate how unpalatable plants impact vegetation composition in alpine ecosystems. In the present study we investigated alpine meadows at four sites in four different prefectures on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of Qinghai Province, China. The study sites included meadows grazed by livestock (AO) and others in the vicinity colonised by the unpalatable grass, Achnatherum inebrians (AI), which the livestock avoided. The results showed: (1) palatable graminoid species were significantly different in the two groups: AO plots were dominated by Kobresia spp. (sedges), whereas AI plots were dominated by Poa pratensis and Elymus nutans (grasses); (2) graminoid diversity was significantly higher in AI than in AO plots; (3) grasses had significantly more seeds in AI than in AO plots. We suggest a three-step process for the invasion of A. inebrians into overgrazed alpine meadows in Northern China. First, soil is disturbed by rodents. Second, disturbed soil is invaded by A. inebrians. Third, the A. inebrians community is colonised by palatable grasses such as Elymus, Poa, Leymus and Stipa spp.

Additional keywords: bunchgrass, endophyte, exposed soil, refuge effect.


Covariation in root traits of Leymus chinensis in response to grazing in steppe rangeland

Wei XiaotingA, Zhong MengyingA, Liu YuehuaA, Wu RuixinB and Shao XinqingA,C

- Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Grassland Science, College of Animal Science and Technology, China, Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China.

BDryland Farming Institute, Hebei Key Laboratory of Crops Drought Resistance, Hengshui, 053000, China.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 313–322
Submitted: 27 October 2018  Accepted: 7 May 2019   Published: 14 June 2019


Root traits are closely related to nutrient absorption, resource competition and can even influence plant recovery and community succession. Grazing can influence root traits directly through trampling and foraging, or indirectly by changing soil characters. In the present study, a grazing experiment that involved combinations of grazing season (from June to September) and intensity (rest, moderate and heavy) was conducted in steppe rangeland, Inner Mongolia, China to investigate how the root traits of Leymus chinensis respond to different grazing regimes in the case of aboveground miniaturisation after long-term overgrazing. Root traits such as root length, root surface area, specific root length, root tissue density, root links and root topological structure were scanned and analysed using Win RHIZO image analysis software. The results showed that the size of L. chinensis was reduced in response to overgrazing, typically by a lower plant height, total root length (TL), root surface area, root volume, number of tips and number of links (NL, where a link is an unbranched part of a root that connects between either a tip and a branching point or two branching points). However, root diameter and link length, branching angle and topological structure (root structure may either be herringbone or dichotomous) were unaffected by grazing. Most root traits showed strong correlations under moderate grazing intensity, but not under heavy grazing, indicating that grazing changed the relationships among root traits. Relationships between plant height and root traits (total root length and number of links) shifted from positive to negative as grazing intensity increased, and the trade-off between aboveground and belowground traits was an important adaptive strategy of L. chinensis under heavy grazing. Decreasing grazing intensity in the late grazing season could benefit plant recovery, and a rest in the early grazing season would mitigate the damage of root and shoot.

Additional keywords: plant height, root tissue density, root topology structure, specific root length.


Impact of forage introduction on cattle grazing practices and crop–livestock systems: a case study in an upland village in northern Laos

Khamphou PhouyyavongA,B,D, Shinsuke TomitaCand Satoshi YokoyamaA

- Author Affiliations

AGraduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Environmental Studies Building, Furo-cho 510, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 4648601, Japan.

BNational Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute.

CAsian Satellite Campuses Institute, Nagoya University Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 323–334
Submitted: 1 November 2018  Accepted: 19 May 2019  Published: 10 August 2019


Lao smallholders are experiencing livestock grazing land constraints due to resettlement, increasing cattle numbers and commercial cash crop plantations. In this paper we describe changes in cattle grazing systems in an upland village in northern Laos, including the role of forage crops and their effects on cattle productivity. We interviewed 92 Hmong and Khmu households about their migration history, cattle grazing practices, cattle productivity and other livelihood activities. In addition, we measured the heart girths of 231 cattle. We found that the traditional free-range cattle grazing has diverged into three distinct systems incorporating fields fenced to different degrees. Although none of the three systems increased cattle body size, the forage pasture and swidden-farming system successfully increased the grazing capacity compared with other systems. Thus, this method appeared to be the most suitable for Hmong smallholders to manage crop and cattle production in the context of land constraints. Efforts should be made to examine how the newly implemented systems could attenuate villager livelihood and pre-emptively address the problems associated with degrading fallow land.

Additional keywords: crop–livestock system, forage, land use, rotational grazing, swidden farming.


Quantitatively assessing the effects of climate change and human activities on ecosystem degradation and restoration in southwest China

Z. G. SunA,F, J. S. WuB, F. LiuA, T. Y. ShaoC, X. B. LiuA, Y. Z. ChenD, X. H. LongC and

Z. RengelE

- Author Affiliations

ACollege of Agro-grassland Science, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210 095, People’s Republic of China.

BInstitute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), 100 081 Beijing, China.

CJiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Biology, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210 095, PR China.

DCollege of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210 037, PR China.

ESoil Science and Plant Nutrition, School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 335–344
Submitted: 19 November 2018  Accepted: 5 August 2019  Published: 5 September 2019


Identifying the effects of climate change and human activities on the degradation and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems is essential for sustainable management of these ecosystems. However, our knowledge of methodology on this topic is limited. To assess the relative contribution of climate change and human activities, actual and potential net primary productivity (NPPa and NPPp respectively), and human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP) were calculated and applied to the monitoring of forest, grassland, and cropland ecosystems in Yunnan–Guizhou–Sichuan Provinces, southwest China. We determined annual means of 476 g C m–2 year–1 for NPPa, 1314 g C m–2 year–1 for NPPp, and 849 g C m–2 year–1 for HANPP during the period between 2007 and 2016. Furthermore, the area with an increasing NPPa accounted for 75.12% of the total area of the three ecosystems. Similarly, the areas with increasing NPPp and HANPP accounted for 77.60 and 57.58% of the study area respectively. Furthermore, we found that ~57.58% of areas with ecosystem restored was due to climate change, 23.39% due to human activities, and 19.03% due to the combined effects of human activities and climate change. In contrast, climate change and human activities contributed to 19.47 and 76.36%, respectively, of the areas of degraded ecosystem. Only 4.17% of degraded ecosystem could be attributed to the combined influences of climate change and human activities. We conclude that human activities were mainly responsible for ecosystem degradation, whereas climate change benefitted ecosystem restoration in southwest China in the past decade.

Additional keywords: human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP), net primary productivity (NPP), productivity model, terrestrial degradation, terrestrial restoration, Yunnan–Guizhou–Sichuan Provinces, spatial distribution.


Vegetative reproduction and root anatomy of Solanum centrale J.M.Black (Australian bush tomato)

A. L. PattisonA,B,E, L. W. BurgessA, T. L. BellA and M. H. RyderB,C,D

- Author Affiliations

AFaculty of Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

BDesert Knowledge CRC, PO Box 3971, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia.

CCSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

DPresent address: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, PMB 1 Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 345–354
Submitted: 14 March 2019  Accepted: 9 July 2019  Published: 16 September 2019


The aim of this study was to describe the morphology, anatomy and function of underground structures associated with colonies of Solanum centrale J.M.Black (Australian bush tomato), a perennial sub-shrub found in arid areas of Australia and an important traditional staple food for Aboriginal people. It is known that this species forms clonal communities, but there is little understanding of the mechanisms of formation in either natural or cultivated situations. The underground connections within seven clonal communities from Central and South Australia were documented and samples of secondary roots, thick lateral roots and stems were examined under both laboratory and glasshouse conditions. Clonal communities were observed at all sites with individual ramets arising from lateral roots (root-suckers) that ranged from 2–10 mm in diameter growing in a network 5–15 cm below the soil surface. Lateral roots have dicotyledonous root anatomy and rapidly resprout to form new clonal ramets. They also have the capacity to accumulate starch in parenchyma cells. The morphology and root-suckering ability resemble those of weedy Solanum spp. from other parts of the world, as well as species from a variety of genera adapted to arid climates. Methods to capitalise on the ability of lateral roots to form clonal ramets in cultivated situations, particularly given the difficulties in establishing crops from seed, are discussed.

Additional keywords: Aboriginal, clonal, domestication, germination, Indigenous, native food. online land cover analysis for the Australian rangelands

Terrence S. BeutelA,B, Rebecca TrevithickB, Peter ScarthB and Dan TindallB

- Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 6014, Red Hill, Rockhampton, Qld 4701, Australia.

BDepartment of Environment and Science, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 355–362
Submitted: 18 March 2019  Accepted: 27 May 2019  Published: 5 August 2019


This paper documents the development and use of the land cover monitoring tool. From 2002 to 2015, VegMachine® software was used by government agencies, natural resource management (NRM) groups and individual pastoralists in northern Australia to assess and benchmark vegetation cover levels. In 2016 the website was launched to build a wider user base and assure service continuity. Users can now graph historical (1990–) cover on one or more user defined areas of interest (AOI), produce comprehensive paddock-by-paddock property monitoring reports, and view a range of land cover raster images through the website map panel. In its first 32 months of operation 913 users logged 1604 sessions on the website and more than 1000 of the website’s most comprehensive monitoring reports were distributed to users. Levels of use varied; 26% of users (n = 237) have used the website more than once, and within this group a smaller set of regular users (n = 36) have used the site more than five times, in many cases to provide analyses to multiple clients. We outline four case studies that document the significant impact has had on users including graziers, government agencies, NRM groups and researchers. We also discuss some possible paths forward that could widen the user base and improve retention of first time users.

Additional keywords: environmental change, grazing pressure, land management, rangeland health, rangeland management, remote sensing.


Beneficial land sector change in far northern Australia is required and possible – a refutation of McLean and Holmes (2019)

Jeremy Russell-SmithA,B and Kamaljit K. SanghaA

- Author Affiliations

ADarwin Centre for Bushfire Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 363–369
Submitted: 14 May 2019  Accepted: 23 July 2019  Published: 16 September 2019


In a recent paper we set out a case for extending current and emerging ecosystem services enterprise opportunities to support sustainable land sector development in far northern Australia (Russell-Smith and Sangha 2018: The Rangeland Journal 40, 315–330. doi:10.1071/RJ18005). In that paper we illustrate very significant economic viability and environmental sustainability issues associated with the current dominant land use, the extensive rangeland beef cattle industry. Our beef enterprise economic assessments drew heavily on reports by Ian McLean, Phil Holmes and colleagues, as well as various other authoritative studies. In a detailed response, McLean and Holmes outline their concerns that, in various instances, we misrepresented their data and that our assessment ‘does not accurately portray the economic performance and contribution of the pastoral sector in northern Australia, nor justify the conclusion that fundamental land sector change is required’ (Comment by McLean and Holmes 2019: The Rangeland Journal, 41, 157–160. doi:10.1071/RJ18098). We acknowledge the singular contributions of those authors for our understanding of the enterprise characteristics and challenges faced by northern beef producers, but further, we: (a) for context, demonstrate the magnitude of the economic and sustainability challenges faced by the majority of northern beef producers as described in a range of pertinent studies including their own; (b) provide a detailed refutation of all eight of their listed concerns; and (c) conclude that available evidence does in fact strongly support the need for exploring diversified enterprise opportunities towards developing a sustainable and inclusive far northern land sector.

Additional keywords: ecosystem services, land use, northern development, pastoral enterprise, rangelands.


The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (3) - July 2019  Special Issue


Rangelands in transition

Russ SinclairA,C, and Martin AndrewB,C

- Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

BMartin Andrew Solutions, 132 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens, SA 5065, Australia.

CCorresponding authors. Email:;

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 161–163
Submitted: 7 July 2019  Accepted: 8 July 2019   Published: 23 July 2019



Value of seasonal climate forecasts in reducing economic losses for grazing enterprises: Charters Towers case study

Duc-Anh An-VoA,B,C, Kate Reardon-SmithA,C,D, Shahbaz MushtaqA,C, David CobonA,C,

Shreevatsa KodurC and Roger StoneA,C

- Author Affiliations

AUniversity of Southern Queensland, Centre for Applied Climate Sciences, Darling Heights, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

BUniversity of Southern Queensland, Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

CUniversity of Southern Queensland, Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 165–175
Submitted: 23 January 2018  Accepted: 29 May 2019   Published: 11 July 2019


Seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) have the potential to improve productivity and profitability in agricultural industries, but are often underutilised due to insufficient evidence of the economic value of forecasts and uncertainty about their reliability. In this study we developed a bio-economic model of forecast use, explicitly incorporating forecast uncertainty. Using agricultural systems (ag-systems) production simulation software calibrated with case study information, we simulated pasture growth, herd dynamics and annual economic returns under different climatic conditions. We then employed a regret and value function approach to quantify the potential economic value of using SCFs (at both current and improved accuracy levels) in decision making for a grazing enterprise in north-eastern Queensland, Australia – a region subject to significant seasonal and intra-decadal climate variability. Applying an expected utility economic modelling approach, we show that skilled SCF systems can contribute considerable value to farm level decision making. At the current SCF skill of 62% (derived by correlating the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal and historical climate data) at Charters Towers, an average annual forecast value of AU$4420 (4.25%) was realised for the case study average annual net profit of AU$104000, while a perfect (no regret) forecast system could result in an increased return of AU$13475 per annum (13% of the case study average annual net profit). Continued improvements in the skill and reliability of SCFs is likely to both increase the value of SCFs to agriculture and drive wider uptake of climate forecasts in on-farm decision making. We also anticipate that an integrated framework, such as that developed in this study, may provide a pathway for better communication with end users to support improved understanding and use of forecasts in agricultural decision making and enhanced sustainability of agricultural enterprises.

Additional keywords: economic value, grazing management, productivity, profitability, seasonal climate forecast, uncertainty.


Social return on investment: application for an Indigenous rangelands context

Leah FeuerherdtA, Stuart PeevorB, Michael ClinchC and Tim MooreA,D

- Author Affiliations

ANatural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, 81 Waymouth St, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

BEIB Consulting, 13 Kalyan Road, Glandore, SA 5037, Australia.

CAnangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Pastoral, PMB 227 Umuwa via Alice Springs, NT 0872, Australia.

DAustralian Integrated Carbon, Level 15/ 25 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 177-183
Submitted: 19 February 2018  Accepted: 28 August 2018  Published: 1 November 2018


Social Return on Investment (SROI) is an internationally recognised methodology used to measure and value the economic impact of program outcomes. Like a traditional cost-benefit analysis, SROI examines economic outcomes, but also includes the social, environmental and cultural outcomes created by the investment. These outcomes are evaluated against their cost, using financial proxies to estimate their relative economic worth. SROI is particularly valuable in the indigenous natural resource management context, because of the strong ‘value’ or importance of non-economic (particularly cultural) costs and benefits.

The Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Board undertook a study of the economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts and benefits of the presence of large feral herbivores in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, in the far north-west of South Australia. Camels, donkeys and horses present significant impacts for the community in terms of vehicle collisions, community health, damage to infrastructure and water pollution, as well as impacts on sites of cultural and spiritual significance to the local communities. With the annual cost impacts incurred by society caused by large feral herbivores in the APY lands valued at $4.2 million and possible dollar value of those animals valued at $140 000, the study found that there was a net cost impact of ~$4 million from not managing the impact of these animals. The study also found significant cultural impacts of large feral herbivores, such as the fouling of natural springs and other culturally sensitive sites, and further analysis would be required to determine the economic cost of these impacts. Investment models that consider a broad range of costs and benefits are considered necessary for Australian rangelands, particularly Indigenous-owned land.

This paper presents a case study of the development of a ranger program that employs local community members to manage the impacts of large feral herbivores that will provide a net benefit to society of ~$3 million every year, aside from the additional benefits of employment and economic participation. The $3-million net benefit accrues from saving human lives and costs associated with vehicle accidents, and reduced management costs and increased income for pastoral areas of the APY Lands. APY community members, and the APY Pastoral business are core beneficiaries; however, there are several external beneficiaries that this SROI approach recognises including the Motor Accident Commission, Health Departments and South Australian Police. The strongly positive SROI in this case presents an excellent co-investment opportunity for agencies whose core focus is on road safety and health. Importantly, the SROI approach to creation of social value can be implemented in a way that is consistent with stated community aspirations for development.

Additional keywords: feral animals, greenhouse gas, pastoralism.


Ninety years of change on the TGB Osborn Vegetation Reserve, Koonamore: a unique research opportunity

R. SinclairA,B and Jose M. FacelliA

- Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 185–187
Submitted: 26 February 2018  Accepted: 25 August 2018  Published: 31 October 2018


The TGB Osborn Vegetation Reserve, on Koonamore station in the NE pastoral area of South Australia, is the longest-running vegetation monitoring project of its type in Australia. In 1925, a 4-km2 rectangle in a heavily overgrazed area was fenced to exclude rabbits and sheep, and permanent quadrats and photo-points set up to record changes. The area is predominantly chenopod shrubland, with an open woodland tree layer. After the initial elimination of rabbits, control slackened and rabbit numbers increased until the 1970s, when intense elimination efforts resumed, together with the arrival of myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease viruses. Consequently, the reserve has had 50 years without sheep, followed by 40 years virtually without either sheep or rabbits. Changes over that time have been very striking, and they have been recorded regularly via mapped quadrats and photopoints.

The objective of this paper is to highlight opportunities for making use of this database for researching several interesting ecological questions.

Additional keywords: grazing pressure, long-term monitoring, rabbits, sheep.


An uncertain future: climate resilience of first-generation ranchers

Kate Munden-DixonA,D, Kenneth TateB, Bethany CuttsC and Leslie RocheB

- Author Affiliations

AGeography Graduate Group, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

BDepartment of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

CDepartment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 189–196
Submitted: 1 March 2018  Accepted: 11 August 2018  Published: 10 September 2018


Policymakers and scholars agree that the aging and declining number of ranchers is a serious problem for the future of ranching and range management. Studies show that recruiting and retaining new ranchers is difficult due to a complex mix of start-up costs, knowledge and skill requirements, and regulatory barriers. While research suggests that first-generation farmers are different demographically and require individualised information, there is limited research on first-generation ranchers (FGRs); at best they are generalised as beginning farmers in research and outreach programs. This is surprising given ranchers’ unique knowledge requirements relating to the production of food and fibre, and the management of vast areas of public and private land. Based on a rangeland decision-making survey of 507 California Cattlemen’s Association members, this paper examines similarities and divergences in socioeconomic factors, management practices, drought adaptation strategies, information needs, and values between FGRs and multigenerational ranchers (MGRs). Survey results indicate FGRs and MGRs are not statistically different demographically and have similar values; however, key differences include FGRs using fewer information sources about ranching, fewer general management practices, and fewer drought adaptation practices. FGRs are also more susceptible to drought, and are underserved by organisations. Their vulnerability is particularly concerning, as many have limited drought experience, are more likely to take risks, and are less likely to find value and/or participate in ranching organisations. The future of rangelands requires that organisations interested in conserving rangelands and supporting ranchers re-evaluate assumptions about why FGRs and MGRs have different information needs beyond simplistic demographic identity, and instead focus on their affinity as FGRs in order to understand the complexity of the processes underlying these differences. We end with suggestions for a research agenda to support the climate resiliency of FGRs and increase the efficacy of support organisations.

Additional keywords: climate change and adaptation, resilience of rangeland systems, socioecological systems, rangeland management.


‘This country just hangs tight’: perspectives on managing land degradation and climate change in far west NSW

 Emily BerryA,D, Graciela MetternichtB and Alex BaumberC

 - Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

BSchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, PANGEA Centre, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

CFaculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, University of Technology Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 197–210
Submitted: 12 March 2018  Accepted: 8 October 2018  Published: 27 November 2018


Discussions of land degradation often display a disconnect between global and local scales. Although global-scale discussions often focus on measuring and reversing land degradation through metrics and policy measures, local-scale discussions can highlight a diversity of viewpoints and the importance of local knowledge and context-specific strategies for sustainable land management. Similarly, although scientific studies clearly link anthropogenic climate change to land degradation as both cause and consequence, the connection may not be so clear for local rangelands communities due to the complex temporal and spatial scales of change and management in such environments.

In research conducted in October 2015, we interviewed 18 stakeholders in the far west of New South Wales about their perspectives on sustainable land management. The results revealed highly variable views on what constitutes land degradation, its causes and appropriate responses. For the pastoral land managers, the most important sign of good land management was the maintenance of groundcover, through the management of total grazing pressure. Participants viewed overgrazing as a contributor to land degradation in some cases and they identified episodes of land degradation in the region. However, other more contentious factors were also highlighted, such as wind erosion, grazing by goats and kangaroos and the spread of undesired ‘invasive native scrub’ at the expense of more desirable pasture, and alternative views that these can offer productive benefits.

Although few participants were concerned about anthropogenic climate change, many described their rangeland management styles as adaptive to the fluctuations of the climate, regardless of the reasons for these variations. Rather than focusing on whether landholders ‘believe in’ climate change or agree on common definitions or measurement approaches for land degradation, these results suggest that their culture of adaptation may provide a strong basis for coping with an uncertain future. The culture of adaption developed through managing land in a highly variable climate may help even if the specific conditions that landholders need to adapt to are unlike those experienced in living memory. Such an approach requires scientific and expert knowledge to be integrated alongside the context-specific knowledge, values and existing management strategies of local stakeholders.

Additional keywords: adaptation, climate change and adaptation, environmental change, social-ecological systems, rangeland management.


Evaluating the potential financial contributions of carbon farming to grazing enterprises in Western NSW

Geoff CockfieldA,B,D, Uttam ShresthaA and Cathy WatersC

- Author Affiliations

ACentre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

BSchool of Commerce, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

CClimate Research, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 211–223
Submitted: 16 March 2018  Accepted: 19 February 2019  Published: 5 April 2019


This article reports on modelling of the farm-level financial implications of changing land use from rangelands grazing to ‘carbon farming’ (vegetation-based carbon sequestration) in north-western New South Wales, Australia. Four model farm businesses were created by combining information from existing carbon projects funded under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), data from surveys of farm businesses in the study regions and biomass estimations from the pasture growth model, GRASP. Scenarios for each of the businesses were: baseline (current grazing system); clearing vegetation to increase carrying capacity; establishing a carbon project; and establishing a carbon project and reinvesting some of the additional income in exclusion fencing to increase carrying capacity on non-project areas. The carbon project scenarios were based on either of two approved carbon sequestration methodologies within the ERF: avoided deforestation; and human-induced regeneration. In comparing the financial outcomes of these scenarios across the modelled businesses, we found potential advantages for landholders in having projects where livestock carrying capacity was at medium to low levels for the study region and where woody vegetation biomass potential was medium to high for the region. The case for sequestration projects on land with higher carrying capacity and therefore higher opportunity cost was much less compelling. In most cases, reinvestment in exclusion fencing resulted in similar financial returns to just having a carbon project but farm business income increased in later years.

Additional keywords: exclusion fencing, farm business income, greenhouse gas emissions, livestock production, payments for environmental services.


Long Paddock: climate risk and grazing information for Australian rangelands and grazing communities

G. StoneA,B, R. Dalla PozzaA, J. CarterA and G. McKeonA

- Author Affiliations

AQueensland Government, Environment and Science, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 225–232
Submitted: 22 March 2018  Accepted: 23 January 2019   Published: 7 March 2019


The Queensland Government’s Long Paddock website has been redeveloped on Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform, to provide Australian rangelands and grazing communities (i.e. rural landholders, managers, pastoralists (graziers), researchers, advisors, students, consultants and extension providers) with easier access to seasonal climate and pasture condition information. The website provides free, tailored information and services to support management decisions to maximise productivity, while maintaining the natural resource base. For example, historical rainfall and pasture analyses (i.e. maps, posters and data) have been developed to assist in communicating the risk of multi-year droughts that are a feature of Queensland’s highly variable climate.

Additional keywords: carrying capacity, climate, decision support tools, extension, grazing.


Looking beyond the D.U.S.T. – building resilient rangeland communities

Dana KellyA,C and David PhelpsB

- Author Affiliations

ADana Kelly Consulting, PO Box 4868, Toowoomba East, Qld 4350, Australia.

BChair Western Queensland Drought Committee (WQDC), PO Box 496, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 233–250
Submitted: 21 April 2018  Accepted: 1 February 2019   Published: 26 April 2019


The role of towns and small business is poorly understood, yet towns are vital for the long-term viability of communities in rural and remote Australia.

This case study in the central western region of Queensland (CWQ) examines the impacts of drought on rural towns and how to build a resilient regional community and alleviate hardship. Evidence was collected during drought from town businesses through surveys, interviews and a public meeting in 2017.

Towns in CWQ are especially exposed to the risks of drought, as approximately half of the businesses are directly linked to agriculture. Townspeople are major contributors to social cohesion and resilience in rural and regional communities, which are often service and maintenance centres of nationally important infrastructure such as roads for inter-state freight transport and tourism. Drought and declining grazier incomes have led to reduced spending in towns. Populations have dropped sharply, as itinerant agricultural workers leave the region. The complex economic and social flow-on impacts of drought have resulted in lower socioeconomic resilience. The majority of community members interviewed expressed a desire to build secure livelihoods, which echoes other research where existing and new rangelands livelihoods are seen as contributing to the success of the nation, a common global desire. Local organisations in CWQ display innovative business and community strategies. Future actions need to support and build on these initiatives.

A framework with the acronym D.U.S.T. has been developed, with associated actions aimed at building resilience in these communities. D.U.S.T. is appropriate for this often-dusty region, and stands for: D. Decide to act; U. Understand the context; S. Support and develop local capacities and institutions; and T. Transform regional governance.

The key for decision-makers is to work with local people who understand the contextual complexity and local needs. Actions need to be based on principles of adaptability, equity and inclusiveness, and working with the whole of the community. Building on existing collaborations and innovations as well as transforming governance and secure funding arrangements are needed. Lessons from the communities in CWQ may help other rural and remote regions build resilience to cope with the unpredictable financial, social and environmental future.

Additional keywords: drought, collaboration, engaged governance, rural towns, transformation.


Overcoming drought vulnerability in rangeland communities: lessons from central-western Queensland

David PhelpsA,C and Dana KellyB

- Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Agriculture and Fisheries, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

BDana Kelly Consulting, PO Box 4868, Toowoomba East, Qld 4350, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 251–270
Submitted: 1 May 2018  Accepted: 8 June 2019   Published: 23 July 2019


Drought and climate variability are an increasing global problem, especially in rangelands which may lack robust socioeconomic systems. Vulnerability is being applied in drought and climate change policy theory, by describing exposure and sensitivity factors, and adaptive capacity. In this paper we examine these vulnerability factors in central-western Queensland (CWQ), Australia, as a case study to test the idea that vulnerability and resilience must be considered together to build strong and enduring rangeland communities. The region’s economy and employment are strongly coupled with rain-fed agriculture. Drought is a key risk to CWQ communities, with 13 extended droughts recorded since 1898. The region has been officially in drought since 2013 following well below-average rainfall, and remains in drought in 2019. The impact has led to reductions in town business turnover of 30–60%, loss of livelihoods and outmigration of 20%. Outmigration corresponds to the recent periods of drought. Social networks have been destabilised, highlighting that the cascading impacts of drought are complex, interrelated and affect the whole community. Regionally led responses have helped to re-build social cohesion, provide mental health support and stimulate economic activity and employment. These actions provide examples of a systemic, whole-of-community approach, that (1) captures place-based advantages; (2) enhances internal and external socioeconomic networks; (3) engages meaningfully through multi-level consultation; and (4) seeks to build sustained financial investment. A common theme of success is partnerships which provide external support for regionally-identified issues and solutions. There has been considerable investment of public, philanthropic and private funds in drought relief and infrastructure programs. This has occurred through a whole-of-community approach, and suggests a move towards policy which aims to build long-term regional resilience. CWQ has linked vulnerability and resilience by asking of both internally and externally led drought relief ‘will this action build or undermine community resilience’. This approach could also be applied to the design of drought policies and responses in other rangeland regions.

Additional keywords: adaptation, pastoralist, resilience, regional policy, rural communities, small business.


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

Barney ForanA,H, Mark Stafford SmithB, Don BurnsideC, Martin AndrewD, Don BlesingE, Kate ForrestF and John TaylorG

- Author Affiliations

AInstitute of Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.

BCSIRO Land and Water, PO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

CD.G. Burnside & Associates, 29 Woodsome Street, Mount Lawley, WA 6050, Australia.

DMartin Andrew Solutions, 132 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens, SA 5065, Australia.

EAgri-Vision Advisory, PO Box 149, Kent Town, SA 5067, Australia.

FRangeland NRM Alliance, 92 Galah St, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

GRangelands Australia, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie, Qld 4070, Australia.

HCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 271–292
Submitted: 12 November 2018  Accepted: 19 June 2019   Published: 19 July 2019


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.

Additional keywords: governance, human capacity, Indigenous, livelihoods, remoteness, sustainability.