Australian Rangeland Society

Paul Novelly, Editor-in-Chief, The Rangeland Journal    Email:

Andrew Ash, Chair, Publications Committee.  Email:


While The Rangeland Journal covers a wide spectrum of topics, Special Issues (SI) focusing on specific topics are also published.   The Journal generally publishes two SI over the course of a year. These SI comprise collections of papers around a particular theme, or arising from a particular conference, workshop or other forum. Recent SI have included the 2019 Canberra ARS Conference Special Issue (Volume 42, Numbers 4 & 5 2020), and the Managing Total Grazing Pressure in Australia’s Southern Rangelands (Volume 41, Number 6 2019).  SI are of a similar size to normal issues, and comprise 8-12 papers.

There are two SI planned for 2021.

The first is a SI on Drought, which brings together a range of papers (modelling, interpretive, management and discourse) from a range of specialists in Queensland.

Drought is a defining feature of rangelands internationally and in Australia. Preparing for and managing the impacts of drought has been a challenge for managers of rangeland enterprises, rural communities and policy makers for over a century. Whilst our understanding of biophysical drivers and impacts of drought have improved and insights from what works and what doesn’t in policy initiatives, many gaps remain. These gaps and opportunities in better managing droughts are multi-dimensional and occur at the intersection of science, on-ground management, social and cultural drivers and barriers to management, and policy.

In this SI on drought management, the diverse nature of drought management is explored, with a strong emphasis on Queensland and the activities of the Queensland Drought and Climate Adaptation Programme. The Special Issue opens with a context setting, national perspective of drought policy, including its history, and how policies have been implemented with an analysis of their effectiveness. The remaining papers focus on drought policy and management in Queensland, and include a diversity of topics: better understanding of climate drivers and their prediction, web-based tools to support management decisions, a farm-management economics framework to inform decision making, how droughts are framed as a means of building cultural capital in drought adaptation, an historical analysis of how droughts have been declared to inform future implementation, and on-ground activities to better prepare pastoralists to drought and climate impacts.

The second proposed Special Issue deals with advances in the Comprehensive and Sequential Classification System (CSCS) for rangelands, with a series of Chinese authors.

The CSCS approach is formulated through the grouping or clustering of units with similar moisture and temperature properties, and is a biogeographic simulation method that was used originally to classify grasslands in China. The CSCS was originally proposed by Ren around 1980.  The Journal published a seminal paper on the system in 2008 (Ren J Z, Hu Z, Zhao J,  Zhang, DG, Hou, FJ, Lin H L and Mu XD. 2008.  A grassland classification system and its application in China. Rangeland J, 30: 199–209).

The SI discusses the more recent uses of the classification system and various advances in its application.  The CSCS approach can play a significant role in the simulation of potential vegetation distribution in relation to climate change at a regional and global scale. This suggests that the CSCS-based models not only have the ability to investigate the effects of climate change on vegetation type and distribution, but also can contribute to balanced predictions of various vegetation communities, especially detailed classes of grassland vegetation.

We believe that both these SI will be useful additions to The Rangeland Journal for 2021.