National Rangelands Strategy, ACRIS, NLWRA

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 Alexandra have published (in the Society’s journal, volume 124) must-read articles on the waste when effective institutions are abolished.

On this page, and on the website of the Queensland Science Network, especially the page on condition and trend monitoring, we revive several of these reports. Readers should also consult the Queensland Government’s Long Paddock “providing seasonal climate and pasture condition information to the grazing community”. Some contemporary material (mainly after 2020) can also be found on the sister site Rangelands Queensland.

A 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

Rangelands 2008 – Taking the Pulse

The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) retains a website which explains that it derived from a proposal by the National Land and Water Resources Audit:

ACRIS was first mooted in the 2001 report, Tracking Changes in the Rangelands.  It appears that this information system has not been active for several 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. The ABC published an informative story in 2014: “Acris-rangelands-funding-cut” (live link) or captured version (PDF). It ought to be a public scandal that tools like this suffer budget cuts.

The National Land and Water Resources Audit also initiated the Australian  Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment, 2002.

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 that 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.