National Rangelands Strategy, ACRIS, NLWRA
During the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, the mainland states embarked on a range of consultations, data-gathering agreements and policy analyses to consider the future of the inland pastoral zone. The various programs were animated partly by concern about biodiversity protection and conservation generally, partly about land degradation, and partly about reports of poor economic viability. Many worthy reports were published but for one reason or another, most of these programs were closed down. Royal Society member David Marlow and Jason Alexander have published must-read articles on the waste when effective institutions are abolished in the Society’s journal, volume 124.
On this page, we will revive as many of these reports as we can assemble. Readers should also consult the Queensland Science Network, especially the link to modern condition and trend monitoring, and the Queensland Government’s Long Paddock “providing seasonal climate and pasture condition information to the grazing community”. Some contemporary material (after 2020) can also be found on the sister site Rangelands Queensland.
The working group consisting of a wide range of stakeholders was originally tasked to produce a National Rangeland Strategy, but prior to government publication through the joint ministerial Councils (ANZECC and ARMCANZ), it was ‘downgraded’ to a document titled the National Principles and Guidelines for Rangeland Management (1999). This was unfortunate, as the large working group was unanimous in its recommendations. The public consultation was extensive, commencing in 1994 and involved 30 workshops across Australia, and 182 submissions to an Issues Paper released in 1996.
Draft National Strategy for Rangeland Management – Summary, 1997
Draft National Strategy for Rangeland Management – Strategy, 1997
Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment , 2002 – a program of the National Land and Water Resources Audit.
The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) retains a website which states that it derived from the NLWRA proposal for an ACRIS. The website explains its origin:
“Extreme climatic variability in the rangelands makes it difficult to separate change resulting from seasonal climate variation from that driven by human activities. New ground in documenting change and its causes has been broken by the creation of the Australian Collaborative Rangeland Information System (ACRIS), which was first mooted in the 2001 report, Tracking Changes in the Rangelands. The ACRIS represents a new and important contribution to rangeland management and capacity to monitor change through scientifically rigorous data and information.”
It appears that this information system has not been active for many years or at least is not readily available. The dcceew rangelands/ACRIS website was last updated on 10 October 2021. With governments’ piecemeal approaches to the management of rangelands, manifestly inadequate given the wide-ranging implications of climate change, there is still a powerful need for an extensive rangeland information system.
In light of the ACRIS report, the then Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC) endorsed an update of the 1999 National Principles and Guidelines for Rangelands Management.
The 2010 Principles for Sustainable Resource Management in the Rangelands it endorsed:
- provide a reference for committees reporting to NRMMC to use when developing reviewing and implementing national strategies
- outline the unique features and values of the rangelands and guiding factors underpinning resource management in Australia’s stunning rangeland landscapes
- may be useful to individual governments, and to other non-government organisations in their ongoing environmental and natural resource management policy and program activities.
The 1999 National Principles and Guidelines established a framework for those with interests in the rangelands to develop strategies and actions to manage change and ensure a viable legacy for future generations.