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Range Management Newsletter 10/2

July 2010 – Range Management Newsletter 10/2


FROM THE EDITOR

Noelene Duckett, 10 Villa Canyon Place, The Woodlands Texas USA 77382. Email: aduckett7@msn.com

Welcome to the mid-year edition of the Range Management Newsletter. As always, this issue contains an array of information for those with an interest in the rangelands – I have included some last minute information about the 16th ARS Biennial Conference to be held in September in Bourke (where I hear seasonal conditions are much improved), Neil McLeod’s report of his travels to Botswana to attend the International Symposium on Flood-Pulse Wetlands (which was partly funded by an ARS Travel Award), and a tribute to the late Dick Condon.  There are also a number of articles related to Society business including the notice of a special meeting (via teleconference), the Agenda for the next ARS meeting to be held during the Bourke Conference and a summary of reports tabled and matters discussed at the 2010 AGM.

I would also like to remind everyone that now is a great time to consider applying for an ARS Award. The Society has two awards to assist members:  the first award, the ARS Travel Grant, can be used to attend a meeting, conference or congress related to the rangelands; or to help with travel costs to investigate a topic connected with range management; and the second award, the ARS Scholarship, can be used for formal study of a subject or course related to the rangelands.  Applications close on 30 November so get your application in now! Further details on eligibility requirements and how to apply are given on page 11.

The deadline for articles for the next issue will be late October/early November. I  would particularly like to receive feedback from those attending the ARS Biennial Conference. For those of you going to Bourke, safe travels and have a great time!
 

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FROM THE NEW PRESIDENT

John A Taylor, Australian Rangeland Society President and Director, Rangelands Australia/Professor of Rangeland Management at The University of Queensland, Gatton Q 4343.  Email: john.a.taylor@uq.edu.au

 

After almost four years on the Council, I have stepped up into this role and will endeavor to fill Peter Johnston’s shoes. Thanks Peter, for showing me the ropes and for a job well done.

After the AGM in May I reflected on the very first meeting of the ARS, in Canberra, over 35 years ago. As I recall, much of that meeting was taken up in points of business and that has set us in good stead. And, as a student back then, I remember two things vividly - how approachable and interesting the ‘leading lights’ were, and how calm and cool they were in the face of a challenge (like later that evening when the pizzas caught fire in Bill Burrows flat!). Since then, some things have changed and some haven’t.

The vision of the Society is still relevant, but the rangelands seem destined to increase in area with climate change. Our view of the stakeholders and opportunities are now much broader, and we now have much more information on which to base our plans and management decisions thanks to enduring (but often re-badged) state and commonwealth organizations, new organizations like the Desert Knowledge CRC and Regional NRM groups, and of course the passionate individuals who have contributed to our conferences, journal and newsletter.

I am encouraged by the growing use of the word ‘rangelands’ and the growing profile of the rangelands in metropolitan Australia in particular. Rain and the floods in the rangelands have been the topic of many articles in capital city papers and popular magazines (eg. Outback), and have been the subject of recent documentaries and features on television. This has heightened interest in the rangelands, which is great for community awareness of one characteristic of the rangelands in particular – climate variability. The challenges before us are to raise awareness of the potential of the rangelands and its people, and to grow or at least sustain government investment in the rangelands to address long standing and emerging issues.

The rapidly approaching conference in Bourke will be an excellent opportunity to see some of the issues first hand through the field trips, and to learn of innovations to address them through the presentations and posters. The Conference Organizing Committee has developed a really interesting and topical program, and I am pleased to see a session devoted to land managers’ experiences and innovations.

At this point, I would like to echo Peter Johnston’s acknowledgement (RMN No 10/1 Mar 2010, p 1) of the enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers who toil behind the scenes to enable the Society to function and flourish. They include the Secretary, Subscription Manager and other members of Council, members of the Publication and Editorial Committees, and the editor of this newsletter. If you think they are doing a great job – tell them. If you can see ways that the Society can better serve its members, then tell us about your ideas.

In the next newsletter I’ll tell you a little about my journey through the rangelands over the past 35 years.

In the meantime, I look forward to catching up with many of you in Bourke in late September, and wish you safe travelling.

 

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LAST CALL - ARS BIENNIAL CONFERENCE

Russell Grant, Western Catchment Management Authority, PO Box 307 Cobar NSW 2835.  Email: russell.grant@cma.nsw.gov.au

By the time you receive this newsletter, the organisation of the 16th Biennial Conference in Bourke will be well-advanced. For those not yet decided on attendance, you will only have a short period remaining to register and I hope you make it. As of late July we have about 150 registrations.

Why Bourke?
Bourke is a historic town long-recognised as a gateway to the rangelands in New South Wales. Located on the banks of the Darling River, “rain on the rangelands” issues are major influences on the local landscape and economy.

The town is at the juncture of the Darling Riverine Plains, Mulga Lands and Cobar Peneplain bioregions, offering a diversity of landscape features including Mitchell grass plains, mulga woodlands and significant wetland systems. The management issues of these landscapes reflect those of the wider Australian rangelands, such as the control of total grazing pressure, the maintenance of the shrub-grass balance, the improvement of landscape function and the protection of biodiversity. Conference field tours will examine these landscapes and issues.

Eternal pessimist Henry Lawson wrote the following about the Bourke district:

“The skies are brass and the plains are bare,
Death and ruin are everywhere
And all that is left of the last year's flood
Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud”

“The Song of the Darling River” 
                      Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

This is not the case in 2010 and you will be seeing the landscape under the best possible seasonal conditions.

The Conference Program
The conference program has been themed “Rain on the Rangelands” to capture aspects of the rainfall and water issues that are gripping the nation. Through good fortune, the theme also reflects the seasonal conditions prevailing in the Bourke district and other areas of the Australian rangelands this year following on from extended drought.

The first day of the conference involves a range of field tours to view and discuss local approaches to natural resource management including grazing systems, wetland conservation and pasture rehabilitation together with an Aboriginal cultural heritage theme. The first conference sessions on Day Two provides an opportunity for practitioners to discuss case studies of implementing on-ground rangeland management on pastoral and Aboriginal lands. Sessions will be led by landholder Guy Fitzhardinge and Sam Jeffries of the Indigenous Land Corporation. Day Three will focus on management issues based on broad catchment areas. Keynote speaker Jason Alexandra of the Murray Darling Basin Authority will introduce a session focusing on the water related issues of the Murray Darling Basin. Professor Richard Kingsford will lead papers discussing broader management issues of the wider rangeland landscapes. On Day Four, Dr Mark Stafford Smith will lead a session examining the balance between managing for biodiversity and production, while Dr Ian Watson will initiate a final session looking at thresholds and resilience.

Keynote speakers will be supported by about forty oral paper presentations including a student component. About forty poster presentations are anticipated for the structured poster sessions. Abstracts of papers will be available on the ARS website before the conference.

The organising committee has developed a partners program for two in-session days of the conference providing guided tours of the attractions of Bourke including the Back O’Bourke Visitor Centre. Child care facilities will be available for delegates by prior arrangement.

Visiting Bourke
The Mitchell Highway, the Kidman Way and the Kamillaroi Way converge on Bourke so road access is good. For those flying, head for Dubbo on Sunday 26th September where a series of buses will meet flights to transport delegates to Bourke. At this stage, accommodation in Bourke is becoming tight. However, serviced tent accommodation has been organised to ensure that all potential delegates will have a place to stay.

Registration
Please register through the conference website at www.arsbourke.com.au. Further details may be obtained from the conference organisers at Natalie Bramble Management. The close-off for registrations has been extended until 3rd September 2010.

Sponsorship
The Conference organising committee has received substantial support from sponsors, which certainly eases the task of putting the event together. We wish to acknowledge the following organisations for their contribution:

Major Sponsors:
                 Western Catchment Management Authority
                 Australian Government
                 Murray Darling Basin Authority
                 NSW Department of Industry and Investment

Tour or Function sponsors:
                Central West Catchment Management Authority
                Meat and Livestock Australia

Session Sponsors:
                Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority
                Desert Channels Queensland
                NSW Land and Property Management Authority
                Rangelands Australia
                NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water

Supporters:
               S. Kidman and Co
               Resource Consulting Services
               Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
               Bourke Shire Council
               NRM Jobs
               RM Williams Pty Ltd

 

 

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OBITUARY - DICK CONDON

Richard (Dick) Condon was a Fellow (Life Member) of The Australian Rangeland Society since 1987. He died on 8 March 2010, aged 85. Dick had been suffering from cancer.

Dick Condon grew up on a rice farm at Yenda near Griffith, NSW, and attended Yanco Agricultural High School (where he was dux). He graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Sydney in 1946.

Dick worked for many years with the Soil Conservation Service of NSW, much of the early part of his career at Condobolin where he was the Research Officer and Botanist in Charge of Service activities in western New South Wales. For the next 21 years in various research and senior executive positions with the SCS, at Condobolin and later Sydney, he gathered the firsthand knowledge of the landscapes, people and policies that affected western NSW. Dick carried out pioneering research into developing a scientific basis for the assessment of carrying capacity in rangelands.

His switch to the Western Lands Commission took place in 1968 when he was appointed Assistant Commissioner responsible for chairing local land boards. Later on Dick was appointed Western Lands Commissioner under the Western Lands Act 1901, from 1974 to 1984. This meant that he was responsible for the administration of the NSW Western Division or 42% of the land area of NSW.

His retirement as Commissioner in 1984 aged just 60, not long after the tabling of the Fisher inquiry’s final report into the Western Division and its administration, was a low point, though he was heartened to receive an Order of Australia Medal in that same year for his soil conservation work. Prior to this he was made a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology.

Dick became a self-styled practical environmentalist and pastoral consultant. He was in demand as a private consultant on matters ranging from erosion control to grazing and rangeland management. He was particularly interested in the technique of water spreading and spent a lot of effort to have it adopted in suitable areas such as the Cobar Peneplain. The establishment of oldman saltbush was another topic for which he was very enthusiastic.

In retirement Dick wrote a book entitled Out of the West. This monumental text was published in 2002, and stands as the definitive study of the physical and social condition of the Western Division from pre-settlement to the present day.

Dick was also an enthusiastic member of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens and was always interested in the vegetation of the west until he died.

Dick is survived by his wife Dorothy, sons Greg, John, Tony and Peter, and a daughter, Jane (Rogers), and their families, to whom we send our condolences.

Peter Austin wrote in The Land (25 March 2010), “Dick Condon – a champion for the west. In the long and chequered history of Australian pastoral land use, it’s unlikely there has been, or will be, a more painstaking observer and chronicler of the processes of change than Dick Condon. His lifetime of interest and close involvement in the fortunes of western NSW has left posterity a rich fund of specialised knowledge. It covers not only the processes of ecological change affecting the pastoral landscape, but also the impacts of successive government policies on the environment and its human inhabitants.”

Graeme Tupper, PO Box 141, Orange NSW 2800. Email: grmtupper@yahoo.com.au

Acknowledgements for information and photograph to Ken Hutton, Old Aggies (NSW Agriculture) Newsletter, April 2010, and Peter Austin, The Land newspaper (11th & 18th March 2010).

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ARS SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING #209 BY TELECONFERENCE

JUSTIFICATION AND PROPOSED AGENDA

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th 2010 – 4 pm Queensland time

Council of the Australian Rangeland Society has been discussing the nomination of new Fellows and would like to recommend to members that they consider nominating worthy recipients. To allow this to happen a change needs to occur as outlined below.

The Articles and Memorandum of Association of the Society Section 3(i) states that:

Any person who has rendered or is rendering distinguished service to the Society or to rangelands, may be appointed a Fellow of the Australian Rangeland Society by Council acting on the written nomination of not fewer than six members, submitted to the Council.

The following notice of motion was put to the Annual General Meeting of the Society on May 28, 1993:

2% of membership is an upper limit for number of Fellows at any one time.

Two per cent of membership at the current level is only 5 fellows and the Society already has five. Council is seeking the approval of members to increase that limit to four per cent which would allow the creation of five new fellows over the coming years.

This will be the subject of a Special General Meeting of members to be held on September 9th 2010 at 4 pm Queensland time by teleconference.

The notice of motion is:

“That four per cent of membership is the upper limit for number of Fellows of the Australian Rangeland Society at any one time”

To join the teleconference at 4.00 pm Queensland time on Thursday, September 9th 2010:

Dial 1800 173 224 and enter pin 715901# - please wait for instructions
 

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ARS GENERAL MEETING #211

AGENDA

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th 2010 - 8.00 am NSW time
Bourke Multipurpose Centre (Main Conference Venue), Bourke

  1. Apologies 
  2. Minutes of the General Meeting at Charters Towers, (Meeting #197) at the 15th Biennial Conference, Charters Towers, Queensland.
  3. President’s report.
  4. Publications update.
  5. CSIRO Publishing,
  6. Global Rangeland Repository
  7. New Fellows
  8. WA Conference Proposal,
  9. Ode to Richard Condon,
  10. International Rangelands Conference, Israel Feldman
  11. General Business,
  12. Close of meeting at 9.00 am
     

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2010 ARS TRAVEL GRANT SUMMARY REPORT

 

Neil McLeod, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, 306 Carmody Rd, St Lucia QLD 4967. Email: neil.macleod@csiro.au

Helped by support from the ARS Travel Grant Fund, I had the privilege in January to travel to Maun in Botswana to participate at the International Symposium on Flood-Pulse Wetlands. This was a groundbreaking multidisciplinary conference that addressed the important effects of pulsing hydrologic cycles on the functioning of wetlands, especially inland wetlands. Among the many topics that were canvassed, particular emphasis was placed on the critical role of flood pulses on wetland ecosystem health and linked responses in chemistry, biological productivity, biodiversity and human livelihoods, history and culture. While all of these topics are important, it was the latter sessions covering biodiversity conservation and the impact of this on human livelihoods that were of particular interest to me.

Maun, while relatively compact and laid back, is the third largest urban community in Botswana. Importantly, it is sited adjacent to the Okavango Delta which is essentially the jewel in the global wetlands conservation crown being the largest Ramsar wetland and also largely intact. Not surprisingly, given the location, the conference drew a significant international audience of approximately 250 scientists, as well as a contingent of approximately 100 research staff and students from the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC) which is also located in Maun working in partnership with the University of Botswana. A showcase of the conference, and especially the poster sessions and field trips, was the HOORC’s Okavango Wetland Biodiversity Conservation Project - or more simply the Biokavango Project - which is contributing to an innovative management plan to prevent erosion of the wetlands integrity through gradually rising anthropogenic pressures. These are notably from subsistence and commercial farming, fishing and high-end tourism developments all competing for wetland resources and amenity values. Luckily for the Delta, the government of Botswana is both honest and smart enough to fully recognise what is at stake and is genuinely committed to get the triple bottom line result that most talk much about but few ultimately achieve.

My own modest contribution to the symposium was largely through a presentation on integrating tourism developments into an existing framework for assessing the ecological-economic tradeoffs that may be associated with rangeland pastoral development. This work, which has been jointly undertaken with my CSIRO colleague John McIvor, was briefly described at the ARS meeting in Charters Towers in 2008. The presentation was well received and drew quite a lot of interest from both African and European delegates who were struggling to find a simple way of presenting choice sets to local stakeholders affected by wetland resource exploitation and policy makers striving to promote economic security through tourism, livestock and irrigation development. In the case of Botswana, such pressure is very real given the high proportion of the land area covered by the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Desert and the national dependence on diamond mining royalties which are diminishing as reserves are due to be depleted in only a few more decades. Following on from this, I had the privilege to work with several African PhD students who were extremely keen to expand their interests in both sustainable livelihoods analysis and resource economics to support development of poor communities in and around the Delta. I may have unwittingly obtained a supervisors’ role out of all of this ‘goodwill’.

 

Photo 1: Delegates participating in a conference session at Maun on wetlands fisheries mismanagement

 

Photo 2: Local high school children attending a World Wetlands Celebration forum session at the Maun conference

 

Not all work and no play, of course, and given the opportunity to get so close to both the Okavango Delta and the Kgalagadi Desert it would be churlish not to have a closer look. Apart from a fascinating trip into the heart of the Delta in a traditional dugout canoe (mokoro), I was able to take in several exceptionally relaxing days at isolated camps in the Linyanti Marshes near the Caprivi Strip on the Namibian border and the Nxai Pan National Park in eastern Botswana. The former has a very high concentration of wildlife crammed into quite a compact wetland area, especially elephants, and is an excellent place to be in the early wet season when many of the animals have just given birth. Most visitors to southern and eastern Africa miss this nursery experience when travelling to the parks in winter, because by then most of the babies have quickly grown into sub-adults to get ahead of the predators. The Nxai Pan is an offshoot of the much larger Mkgadikgadi Pans, which as an ancient lake bed with a massive catchment is covered with grass in the mid to later wet season. This pulse of forage attracts a large assemblage or herbivores, especially zebra, giraffe, springbok and gemsbok; but also the higher end of the predator chain including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and African hunting dogs. Truly a marvellous part of the planet and highly recommended if the opportunity to get there comes across your path.

 

 

Photo 3: Traditional dugout canoes (Mokoro) plying the waterways in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

 

 

Photo 4: Young male lions cat-napping at Nxai Pan N.P., Botswana.
 

 

Photo 5: Bull elephant encounter in the Linyanti Marshes, Botswana.

 

 

Photo 6: Author and Bushman tracker “Shoes” taking a breather at Nxai Pan N.P., Botswana.

 

 

Photo 7: The Okavango region has a relatively high population of African hunting dogs which are otherwise highly endangered throughout most of southern Africa.

 

 

Photo 8: Hippos, the most dangerous animal in Africa after humans, are commonly encountered in the Okavango waterways.

 

Although I have had the privilege to travel quite extensively around the world over the past 20 or so years, the trip to Botswana was definitely a highlight. It was both professionally and personally rewarding and has created an opportunity to broaden my research interests in new areas and with newly acquired colleagues. The contribution of the ARS Travel grant to this outcome is genuinely appreciated.
 

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APPLY NOW - ARS AWARDS

The Society has two awards to assist members with either:

  • travel expenses associated with attending a conference or some other activity, or
  • studies related to the rangelands.

Applications for each award will be considered on a yearly basis and close in November of each year. Any member of the Society interested in either award is invited to apply.

Australian Rangeland Society Travel Grant

This grant is intended to assist eligible persons to attend a meeting, conference or congress related to the rangelands; or to assist eligible persons with travel or transport costs to investigate a topic connected with range management or to implement a program of rangeland investigation not already being undertaken. The grant is available for overseas travel and/or travel within Australia. It is not intended for subsistence expenses.

Australian Rangeland Society Scholarship

This scholarship is for assisting eligible members with formal study of a subject or course related to the rangelands and which will further the aims of the Australian Rangeland Society. The scholarship is available for study assistance either overseas or within Australia. It is not intended to defray travel expenses.

How to Apply

Members interested in either award should submit a written outline of their proposed activity. Applications should clearly address how the intended activity (ie. travel or study) meets the aims of the Society. Applications should be brief (less than 1000 words) and should be submitted to the Secretary, Carolyn Ireland, before 30 November. An application form can be downloaded from the ARS website at www.austrangesoc.com.au. For further information contact Carolyn by phone on (08) 8370 9207 or email at cireland@irmpl.com.au.

Conditions

Applications for the Travel Grant should include details of the costs and describe how the grant is to be spent. Applications for the Scholarship should include details of the program of study or course being undertaken and the institution under which it will be conducted, and information on how the scholarship money will be spent. For both awards details of any other sources of funding should be given.

Applications for either award should include the names of two referees.

Finally, on completing the travel or study, recipients are required to fully acquit their award. They are also expected to write an article on their activities suitable for publication in the Range Management Newsletter or The Rangeland Journal as appropriate, and for the Australian Rangeland Society website, within six months of completion of their travel or study.

Eligibility

No formal qualifications are required for either award. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are encouraged from persons who do not have organisational support.

There is a restriction on both awards for overseas travel or study assistance in that the applicants must have been members of the Society for at least 12 months. The awards can be for Australian members to travel to or study overseas or for overseas members to travel to or study in Australia.
 

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IX INTERNATIONAL RANGELAND CONGRESS

The next International Rangeland Congress will be held from 2-8 April 2011 in Rosario, Argentina.  Interest in the Congress is certainly hotting up. Paper submissions recently closed and over 600 papers were received.

The theme of the Congress, “Diverse Rangelands for a Sustainable Society” sets the scene for a great conference which will cover rangeland issues related to the status of physical resources, biodiversity, management of rangelands and cultural values.

Within the Scientific Program discussion topics which have been grouped into four sub-themes:

  • Ecological Integrity
  • Sustainable Production
  • Social Sustainability
  • Overview of Argentina’s Rangeland Situation

There will be four days of presentations and poster viewing with plenary sessions each day. Both Pre-Congress and Mid-Congress tours have also been arranged.

Further details about the Congress is available from the Congress website - www.irc2011.com.ar. Registration and other additional information should be available soon.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2010 ARS AGM

The Australian Rangeland Society’s AGM was held on the 20th May 2010. A summary of the main items discussed at the meeting are given below. Full minutes of the AGM are available in the members area of the ARS website (austrangesoc.com.au).

Reports Tabled

Directors’ Report
Peter Johnston provided an outline of key issues in the Directors’ Report. 2009 was a quiet but productive year for the Society.

In summary, the main activities were:

  • Launching on 2 October 2009 the Society’s new and improved website developed by the firm Link Web Services under the careful direction of Ken Hodgkinson; Peter commended Ken and the builders of the site.
  • Increasing the number of journals published from three to four per year. This included two special issues;
  • Publication and distribution of three issues of the Range Management Newsletter (March, July and November 2009), this is now online;
  • Administering a small Murray-Darling Basin Authority project focused on the integration of current knowledge of the management of riverine landscapes;
  • Commence planning for the 16th Biennial Conference for the Society to be held in Bourke NSW in September 2010;
  • Awarding one travel grant to the value of $1,600 to Mr Neil MacLeod to travel to Botswana in February 2010 to participate in the International Pulse Flooded Wetlands Conference; and,
  • Continuing the contract with CSIRO publishing for publication of the Society’s journal for the three years 2008, 2009 and 2010 (Volumes 30, 31 and 32).

Publications Report
The publishing and circulation of professional and highly regarded publications in the form of three newsletters and four journals per year to members continued under the guidance of the Publications Committee and their respective Editors and Associate Editors.

In 2009, the Society was mid-way in its second three year agreement with CSIRO Publishing to have The Rangeland Journal (TRJ) published both electronically and in hard-copy for the years 2008 - 2010 (Volumes 30, 31 and 32). The TRJ continued to be made available in hard copy and electronic form to members in categories other than Libraries and kindred institutions. The latter two may receive TRJ in electronic form only, or, at a higher subscription, electronic form plus print. The Range Management Newsletter continues to be published in hard copy form and has recently commenced in electronic form via the Society’s new website. CSIRO publishing specifically promoted TRJ at six conferences in 2009 and in various mail-outs and inserts as part of their regular renewal campaigns.

Although the cost of electronic publication is greater than that by conventional means, Council is still of the opinion that this change was necessary if the Society is to persist as a vital body capable of providing impartial advice and opinion for policy makers and the community generally on rangelands and their use. It is pleasing to note the number of papers submitted to TRJ continues to increase following the publication of the first Issue by CSIRO Publications in 2005. In 2009, 86 manuscripts were received (44% from Australia). This is significantly higher than the total number of papers received in 2008 (75). This higher submission rate in 2009 indicates increased confidence / interest in the journal.

The Journal has a significant web presence on the CSIRO publishing site. Archival back content (Volumes 1-30 (1976-2008)) has been made available to all subscribers. The back content has been downloaded at an increasing rate with the ‘most read’ papers and Special Issues attracting the highest number of downloads. In 2009 the TRJ web site was well utilised with a continued increase in the number of subscribers accessing the site. Individual TRJ papers have been downloaded 24,208 times in 2009 (this represents a 26% increase over the number of paper downloads recorded for 2008), at a rate of approximately 66 individual papers per day. The most read paper in 2009 with 691 downloads was “Climate change impacts on northern Australian rangeland livestock carrying capacity: a review of issues” by G. M. McKeon, G. S. Stone, J. I. Syktus, J. O. Carter, N. R. Flood, D. G. Ahrens, D. N. Bruget, C. R. Chilcott, D. H. Cobon, R. A. Cowley, S. J. Crimp, G. W. Fraser, S. M. Howden, P. W. Johnston, J. G. Ryan, C. J. Stokes and K. A. Day, published in Volume 31 (1) March 2009.

The ISI Citation Impact Factor is based on a narrow window of citation and is reported in June each year. The Impact Factor for a given year is based on the ratio of citations to papers published in the previous 2 years. The Citation Impact Factor for 2008 was 1.232, compared with 0.545 for 2007. To date TRJ has about 64 citations and 55 papers published which gives an "indicative 2009 impact factor" of about 1.120. This means that the Journal has maintained its strong profile in the research community whilst expanding the content for 2 to 4 issues over the citation periods. The 2008 Citation Impact Factor places the Journal in rank 75 out of 124 journals listed in the Ecology category — this represents significant increase over the previous two years. The improvement in the Impact Factor is directly related to publication of ‘high impact’ papers, rigorous reviewing and 'active encouragement' for readers to cite papers.

Other highlights for the journal included two special issues published in 2009. The first (Volume 31, Issue 1) contained selected papers from the 15th Biennial conference held in Charters Towers with Dr Tony Pressland as the guest editor. The theme of the conference and this special issue was “A Climate of Change in Australian Rangelands”. The second special issue (Volume 31, Issue 2) focused on developing a better understanding of the nature of livestock-water interactions and was titled “Livestock Water Productivity”. The guest editors were Tilahun Amede, Ben Norton and Deborah Bossio with sponsorship from the International Water Management Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute. Special Issues have attracted considerable interest from ‘rangeland’ ecologists worldwide who may not be familiar with the Journal. Two special issues are planned for 2010.

On other publication matters, the Society’s new website was launched in 2009. The site is a major renewal and was designed to provide both members and the general public with a wider range of information and services. The Range Management Newsletter is now available to members in electronic format through the members section of the site. Council would like to thank Jason Batory for his many years of unwavering service in maintaining the old website for the Society.

Council would also like to thank Dr Ken Hodgkinson and the publications committee for driving the changes to the Society’s publications. These changes commenced with a major focus on The Rangeland Journal. Ken has subsequently focused on the web site which is also now complete and a major communication tool for the Society. Now that the Range Management Newsletter is available electronically Ken and Dr Noelene Duckett will focus on how this publication can be improved.

Membership Report
Membership of the Society has declined from a peak of 638 in 1989 but has remained more or less stable since 2002. In December 2009 there were 273 members managed by the Society with CSIRO Publishing managing another 83, giving a total of 356. The corresponding figures for December 2008 were 302 plus 83 (=385), December 2007, 303 plus 84 (=387), December 2006, 351 plus 75 (=426) and for December 2005, 321 plus 61 (=382). This compares with 438 at the same time in 2004, 434 at the same time in 2003 and 427 at the same time in December 2002.

There were 19 new members in 2009, 70 new members in 2008 (a conference year), 23 new members in 2007, and 41 new members in 2006 (a conference year). There were 30 new members in 2005.

The majority (86%) of members and subscribers come from Australia, with 44% of these coming from Queensland and New South Wales. There are 20 international members (plus 28 international subscribers), compared to 15 at the same time in 2009, and 7 at the same time in 2008.

The membership figures include five ARS Fellows and eleven “ex-officio” non-paying members such as the ARS archive, the National Library of Australia, and international Associate Editors for The Rangeland Journal. It is also noted that the Society has about 38 landholder addresses amongst its members.

Subscription rates for those subscribers managed by the Society remained the same for 2009 following the increase for 2006. Council decided to increase the rates from 1st January 2010. On-line membership renewal became available to members through the Society’s new website commencing in 2010.

Financial Report
The financial affairs of the Society remain on a strong footing with a profit from ordinary activities of $17,952 (2008: profit of $80,377) and total equity/retained profits of $315,216 (2008: $297,264).

Professionally run biennial conferences continue to have a positive impact on the Society’s financial position and Council looks forward to the 2010 Conference delivering a surplus for the Society.

The Society’s total equity is $315,216 which is considered adequate to cover any liabilities.

The Society continued to work on improvements to programs and protocols to allow it to complete its commitments to standard reporting of its financial position as required under law.


Other Issues Discussed at the AGM

Election of Office Bearers
John Taylor was elected as President of the Society following the stepping down of Peter Johnston. Peter Johnston and Graeme Tupper were accepted as General Members while Peter Marin continues in his role as Finance and Audit Officer.

General Business

Request for Advertising
The Publications Committee will develop a concise Policy and Guidelines and a Schedule of Fees for advertising in the RMN. This is to be presented to Council for endorsement.

2012 Biennial Conference
Sandra Van Vreeswyck outlined a WA proposal for the 2012 Conference. Paul Novelly will Chair the Organising Committee and Sandra will probably be the Secretary. The conference will likely be held in Kunnanurra.

Contributions
John Taylor acknowledged the contribution that Peter Johnston has made over the last four years as President of the Society. He also expressed Council’s appreciation of Ken Hodgkinson and the Publications Committee, Wal Whalley and the editorial team of The Rangeland Journal, Noelene Duckett for the Range Management Newsletter, and Darryl Green, Russell Grant and their team for the organization of the Bourke Conference.
 

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NEW MEMBERS

Mr Bradley Green - Chinchilla, QLD

Mrs Kate Nicolson - Dubbo, NSW

Mr Glen Norris - Port Augusta, SA

Prof Abdulaziz M Alssaeed - Saudi Arabia

Ms Christine Hay - Chiltern, VIC

Mr Robert Finlay - Orange, NSW

Ms Robyn Cadzow - Alice Springs, NT

Mr Brett Crook - Kalgoorlie, WA

Mr Lester Pahl - Toowoomba, QLD

Miss Kath Ryan - Carnarvon, WA

Mr Geoff Wise - Bourke, NSW

Mr Karel Eringa - Midland, WA

Ms Johnelle Stevens - Gracemere, QLD

Miss Suzanne Kearins - Mount Isa, QLD

Miss Kate Forrest - Stansbury, SA

Dr Nancy Bray - Oatlands, TAS
 

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