Stewardship of Queensland’s pastoral zone

Stewardship of Queensland’s pastoral zone

  • What is the duty of care expected of  pastoralists in Queensland’s rangelands and who defines it?
  • To reduce the flow of sediment to the Great Barrier Reef, is tougher regulation – the stick approach – required, or would an incentive payment – the carrot approach – be more effective?
  • If the carrot approach, what justification is there for taxpayers to fund remedial works on private land?
  • Could trade in carbon credits pay for a general incentive payment?
  • Who should deliver the Queensland Government’s announced Land Restoration Fund?
  • Why is the Landcare movement languishing?
  • What can be done about regional youth unemployment now reportedly greater than 60%?

Photo courtesy Alan Lauder.

Proposal for incentive payments

These issues and more are explored in a Discussion Paper presented at a forum on 28 May 2018 in Brisbane, drafted by Dr Geoff Edwards with contributions from four other members. The Discussion Paper From Red to Green to Black was released on 20 June 2018 (3MB). The paper outlines a “stewardship incentives scheme” and a policy framework for the Land Restoration Fund announced during the 2017 State election campaign. The paper has not been formally endorsed by the Royal Society of Queensland: its status is as a submission TO the Society.

Note to those who read the draft version: The only significant change made in the published version is in the section on carbon trading, on new pages 46,47. The revised paper takes a more sceptical approach to the prospect of using carbon credits to fund land restoration.

The event was co-hosted by NRM Regions, the peak body for the regional natural resource management groups in Queensland. See Flyer for more details. Short presentations from panellists were followed by a brainstorm amongst knowledgeable and interested participants from the public service, agriculture, NRM, conservation and community sectors.

All those who wish to participate in subsequent dialogue are invited to join the Society – see Membership page.


Dr Greg Leach – Agforce – Informal Response .

Dr April Reside – Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation, University of Queensland – Making Queensland Great Again . (4 MB).

Ms Megan Surawski – Department of Environment and Science – Land Restoration Fund .

Mr Stephen Robertson – NRM Regions Queensland – Sustainability in a Changing Climate . (4.5 MB, without video).



Critiques and responses to the proposal

There are many knowledgeable people in the pastoral industry, in government and in the scientific community with views about the sustainability of pastoral production in Queensland’s rangelands. Comments on the issues raised in the paper are welcome – please send to the President. Responses can be viewed on a separate Stewardship Responses page.

Land Restoration Fund

In 2017 the Queensland Government confirmed an election commitment to establish a Land Restoration Fund. The Fund aims to use carbon credits and green bonds as economic drivers for achieving “co-benefits” on rural land. The proposal has much in common with the stewardship incentives scheme outlined in the Discussion Paper mentioned above.

Drought policy

Drought has both man-made and natural dimensions. The Society is seeking philanthropic funds to enable it to embark on a major public dialogue over drought policy – and rural policy generally. Please contact the President if you would like to be involved in this exciting initiative. Refer to our Drought preparedness page for more information.

Source materials – Background reading

This section is reserved for authoritative reports and other resources relevant to the stewardship of Queensland’s pastoral zone.

Regional Natural Resource Management

Living Landscapes – a manifesto for rejuvenating NRM.

NRM Spatial Hub Final Report – A mapping tool to allow landholders access to the most up-to-date government datasets and satellite imagery, a wonderful initiative towards which numerous knowledgeable people have worked for many years, destined to never reach its potential because of the lack of a derisory quantum of public funding.


Sustainability in Queensland Agriculture: The Role of Land Care in Securing the Future.

This report, proceedings of a symposium in 1989 and a landmark of its time, is reproduced with the permission of the Agricultural Institute of Australia (17 July 2018). (8 MB).

Information Hub and other bibliographies

Mulga lands Information Hub : South West NRM has compiled a comprehensive repository of reports, journal articles, books and other materials about the mulga lands specifically, but much of the material is referable to the pastoral zone generally.

Carbon management

South West NRM, the (former) regional natural resource management body for the Mulga Lands based in Charleville, has published two substantial works on how carbon markets might be directed towards natural resource management. These papers are republished with the generous permission of South West NRM Ltd.:

Gavin, J., Moore, T. (2012) Project Report. South West Natural Resources Management Ltd. in the Carbon Economy: Carbon Sustainable Futures Program‐ A way forward for South West NRM’s involvement in the Clean Energy Future package.

Jackson, Mark. (2008). Carbon Markets and the Mulga Lands of South West Queensland. The Carbon Store Pty. Ltd. and South West NRM Ltd.

CSIRO was commissioned by the Queensland Government to produce a comprehensive study in 2009: An Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Carbon Sequestration Opportunities from Rural Land Use, edited by Sandra Eady, Mike Grundy, Michael Battaglia and Brian Keating.

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists’ submission to the Climate Change Policies Review in May 2017 articulates five principles and a page of relevant references.

Pasture and paddock management

A theory of carbon stocks and flows: A separate page on this website explains the carbon grazing model of pasture management.

The Long Paddock is a Queensland Government initiative that has provided climate and pasture information to the grazing community since 1995. The site provides access to rainfall and pasture outlooks and decision support tools to support land management decision making and planning for land holders, education, consultants and extension officers.

Property rights

Two papers written in 2002 when a vigorous debate was underway over whether graziers should be compensated for regulations preventing clearing of native vegetation:

Institutional Reform in Rural Australia: Defining and Allocating Property Rights – Synapse Consulting

Property Rights and Natural Resource Management – Ian Reeve.

The Government determined not to pay ‘compensation’ but to allocate funds for structural adjustment of properties rendered unviable.

Global reports

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an initiative of the United Nations,  has released a report on global land degradation. The definition is somewhat broader than deterioration of soil and vegetation in pastoral rangelands, the focus of this page, but conveys and relevant and timely warnings.  The report observes that the “benefits of land restoration often exceed their costs, by far, sometimes by a factor of 10”.