The following note on rangeland management is from a reader of this blog who lives in western Queensland. The note was followed by the the comment that, “a major problem of rangeland management is that politicians and bureaucrats have undying faith in the efficacy of pious hope and regulation to rectify problems now largely caused by previous doses of pious hope and regulation”.
“Among the myths of rangeland management are:-
1. that rangelands are fragile
Wrong on either meaning of “fragile”. In the sense of Wedgewood china, wrong because the organisms involved have had some millions of years of the vaguries of semi-arid and arid regions and are basically as tough as old boots.
In the ecological sense of “fragile” (having frequent changes in species composition), wrong because “resilience” is the ticket in these regions, not “stability”
2. that things happen slowly in the rangelands
Wrong – more that nothing much happens, then things can happen very rapidly and then nothing much happens – (but you don’t get to see this if your rangelands watching is by intermittent visits). Contrast “state and transition” vs “Clementsian succession”.
3. that one size fits all (the shifting spanner of management)
Lower George Street (in Brisbane) has a bad case of this at the moment.
So fire or not depends on what we have to manage. Pretty well documented that lack of fire got us to the current woody vegetation increase problem. And New England and Southern Africa experience says fire for managing some pasture species. Unusual to need fire every year for such management.
And (for rangeland) one of the Charleville Pastoral Laboratory results is that out here we are looking at about 90 percent of the dry matter by about the end of March, and we shouldn’t be aiming to use more than about 30 percent of that via grazing animals over the next 12 months – so there is the rest for roos etc and insects and mulch. And on the economics side, at least 90 percent of the net income will come from around 70-75 percent of the stocking rate.
I’m afraid we didn’t doo too well on this score for the last 4-5 years. But there is hope – a warm winter so far and 119mm in May and 72mm so far in June, and the pasture species are finally responding (even buffel seedlings in June), so we may be able to get back to the above.
This note follows the posting by Graham of 28th June which was Part 2 of ‘Managing our Rangelands’.