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


Interested in an analysis of contemporary facets of rangeland management in Australia and overseas?  Look no further!

The Special Issue (SI) of the Journal with papers from the September 2019 ARS Canberra Conference will be published in December.  It is a bumper issue (two Issues, actually – it will be listed as Issues 4 and 5 of Volume 42), with 15 papers based on presentations and other Conference events. It is available through the ARS website (, or via CSIRO Publishing’s website at  The entire SI is ‘open access’, so that all the papers are available for downloading at no charge.

The Conference theme was “Resilient future rangelands: integrating environment and livelihoods”, and this theme frames the SI.  Given the diversity of both presentation topics and processes such as the ‘world café’ session, there are several paper formats suited to the conference outcomes.  Apart from the research papers one expects in the Journal, the SI also contains shorter, opinion-oriented or agenda-setting pieces labelled ‘Perspectives’ or ‘Commentaries’. As outlined by the Conference Organising Committee “In essence, commentaries are aimed at what the world should do about rangelands (based on research and practice), whereas perspectives are about what researchers and allied practitioners should do to better understand rangelands issues”.

The SI was ably managed by three Guest Editors, Cecile Goode, Sarah McDonald and Marwan El Hassan, and they have done an excellent job working with authors in bringing  a most informative and interesting SI to fruition.  The Guest Editors have written an Introduction to the SI that outlines far better than I can its focus and the way the SI developed.  Make sure you read it.

Another highlight of the SI is the overarching paper by Uffe Nielsen and 23 (yes, 23) fellow authors (with all the author names and affiliations, it’s probably why the SI is published as two Issues).  The paper outlines the results of a ‘horizon scan’ conducted at the Conference to identify and prioritize key challenges facing rangelands and their communities, outline possible avenues to address them, and identify key challenges, potential solutions and research priorities.

The SI gave me lots to think about. Australia’s rangelands, and the industries and communities integral to them, face substantial challenges.  The mix of papers in the SI address these challenges, explains what the authors think they mean, and what options may exist to address them   I don’t necessarily agree with all the conclusions, but the papers make me think about important, sometimes confronting topics, presented with a different perspective in many instances.  And, for me as Editor-in-Chief, that’s what I want the Journal to do – make readers think.  I believe the SI does that.

If you have not had a chance to scroll through the abstracts of papers presented at the Conference itself, doing so in conjunction with the papers in the SI is a good move.  The greater depth of the papers in the SI substantially enhance thinking on some of these topics. The abstracts are available on the ARS website.

And, if the SI makes you think, then don’t keep your thoughts to yourself.  Either send your views to the next ARS Newsletter, or consider you own paper for the Journal.



Papers in the Special Issue include:

Resilient future rangelands – integrating environment and livelihoodsMarwan El Hassan, Cecile Godde and Sarah McDonald

Guiding rangelands into an uncertain futureBrian Walker

Nudging the narrative: heading in the ‘right direction‘ – Margaret Friedel and John Brisbin

A narrative to support the future of the Australian OutbackB.J. Traill and Mark Stafford-Smith

Understanding how Aboriginal culture can contribute to the resilient future of rangelands – the importance of Aboriginal core valuesMal Ridges, Mick Kelly, Geoff Simpson, John Leys, Sandy Booth, Margaret Friedel and Ngyampaa Country

Commentary: on the under-valuing of Australia’s expertise in drylands research and practice globallyGraciela Metternicht and Mark Stafford Smith

Australian rangelands science – a strategic national assetAndrew Campbell

A call for collaboration: linking local and non-local rangeland communities to build resilienceDavid Phelps and Dana Kelly

Building human capacity, capability and future leaders for Australia’s rangelandsJohn A. Taylor, Paul A. Erkelenz and Amber C. Churchill

Carbon farming for resilient rangelands: people, paddocks and policyAlex Baumber, Cathy Waters, Rebecca Cross, Graciela Metternicht and Marja Simpson

Custodianship of wildlife on private land to support conservation – an Australian model – George Wilson, Melanie Edwards and Neil Byron

Preventing rangeland degradation: a shared problem for Australia and ChinaKenneth C. Hodgkinson and Deli Wang

Modelling Chinese grassland systems to improve herder livelihoods and grassland sustainabilityKarl Behrendt, Taro Takahashi, David R. Kemp, Guodong Han, Zhiguo Li, Zhongwu Wang, Warwick Badgery and Haibo Liu

Chinese degraded grasslands – pathways for sustainabilityDavid R. Kemp, Karl Behrendt, Warwick B. Badgery, Guodong D. Han, Ping Li, Yingjun Zhang, Jianping Wu and F. J. Hou

Optimising grazing for livestock production and environmental benefits in Chinese grasslandsWarwick B. Badgery, David Kemp, Zhang Yingjun, Wang Zhongwu, Han Guodong, Hou Fujiang, Liu Nan, David Michalk and Karl Behrendt

Challenges, solutions and research priorities for sustainable rangelandsUffe N. Nielsen, Mark Stafford-Smith, Graciela I. Metternicht, Andrew Ash, Alex Baumber, Matthias M. Boer, Sandy Booth, Don Burnside, Amber C. Churchill, Marwan El Hassan, Margaret H. Friedel, Cecile M. Godde, Dana Kelly, Mick Kelly, John F. Leys, Sarah E. McDonald, Yiheyis T. Maru, David G. Phelps, Malcolm Ridges, Geoff Simpson, Barry Traill, Brian Walker, Cathleen M. Waters and Angus W. Whyte