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Range Management Newsletter 14/2

 

July 2014 – Range Management Newsletter 14/2


FROM THE EDITOR

Noelene Duckett, 5 Amery Street, Ashburton VIC 3147. Email: aduckett7@msn.com

Thank you for your interest in this issue of the Range Management Newsletter.

Many of us appreciate the major role that monitoring can play in the management of rangelands for sustainable use. In our major article for this issue, John Ludwig, Gary Bastin. Jocelyn Davies and Teresa Eyre discuss recent developments for three types of indicators of rangeland condition (landscape function, biodiversity conservation, and socio-economic) and whether they can be used for a more integrated approach to monitoring and reporting across broader areas. I found this to be a very interesting article and well worth the read – check it out on page 5!

“Innovation in the Rangelands” is the theme for the upcoming ARS Biennial Conference to be held in Alice Springs from 12 -16 April 2015. The Organising Committee are working hard to present an interesting and varied program and some fabulous field trips (always the highlight of ARS Conferences!) Further information is available on page 2 of this newsletter and from the Conference website – arsconference.com.au.

In addition to attending the Conference, there are a number of other ways to get more involved with the ARS. If you are going to be in Canberra on Wednesday September 3, how about attending the 2014 Rangeland Journal Lecture to be delivered by Leo Dobes at ANU? The topic of Leo’s Lecture is “Australia's Rangelands: Some dismal science perspectives” - see page 4 for further details. Additionally the ARS Publications Committee is currently looking for a few members to assist Russell Grant, the Website Manager, with keeping the ARS website up to date. If you have a bit of spare time, and either existing website management skills or a willingness to learn these skills, please consider helping out. Further information is given on page 3.

I am also excited to announce that all past issues of the Range Management Newsletter, and its predecessor the Range Assessment Newsletter, will be available online through the Society’s website in the very near future. Thanks should go to a number of the Publications Committee members, most particularly Ron Hacker and Ken Hodgkinson, for making this happen.

Finally, I wish to remind everyone that applications for the next round of the ARS Travel and Scholarship Awards close on 30th November 2014. Please check the guidelines beginning on page 17 before sending in your submission.

I am now seeking contributions for the November issue of the newsletter so please consider contributing. If you have any questions about whether your article would be of interest please don’t hesitate to contact me at aduckett7@msn.com. It would be great if articles could be with me by early October.
 

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FROM THE PRESIDENT

John Taylor, ARS President and Director, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie Qld 4070.
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

Funding for RD&E in our vast rangelands (81% Australia) has long been an issue. With only 3% of the population living in the rangelands our issues are often lost among those raised by our more vocal city friends. A meeting recently convened in Adelaide by the Rangeland Alliance of regional NRM groups has taken the first steps in exploring the establishment of a trust to build longevity into the resourcing of RD&E on key rangeland issues. The ARS commends and is strongly supportive of this initiative, and Council looks forward to hearing of progress in this area.

I recently had the pleasure of travelling through the savannas of the southern Kalahari with Klaus Kellner and then attending the Grassland Society of Southern Africa’s 49th Research Skills Workshop and Annual Congress in Bloomfontein. There were around 200 at the Congress, including four Australians, and I was impressed by the numbers of students and the quality of their presentations in poster and research proposal sessions. The enthusiasm and vitality of student contributions, here and at the annual Society of Range Management meetings in the USA, highlighted for me the importance of an Australian university program in range science and management in providing a catalyst for youth involvement and, in the longer term, a vibrant and enduring Australian Rangeland Society.

Your Council has met three times since the last RMN, including holding the AGM in May. The directors and financial reports for the 2013 calendar year, as tabled at the AGM, are provided elsewhere in this newsletter. Council has noted the continuing progress of The Rangeland Journal (TRJ) under the Editorship of John Milne, and has endorsed a recommendation from the Publications Committee to extend John’s term as Editor. Council has endorsed other recommendations from the Publications Committee for further Special Editions of TRJ and improvements to the website, and is currently considering revisions to the role statements of key players in the Society.

Finally, the ARS archives have now been relocated to Moorna Station and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Annabel Walsh for ensuring their safe-keeping.

The next meeting of Council is scheduled for September. In the meantime, my best wishes to all our members.
 

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ARS BIENNIAL CONFERENCE UPDATE

 

The next ARS Biennial Conference is to be held in Alice Springs in April 2015. Registrations are now open and all the latest Conference information (eg registration, accommodation, conference program, how to submit abstracts) can be found on the conference website: arsconference.com.au.

The theme of next year’s Conference is “Innovation in the Rangelands” and the Conference Organising Committee is working very hard to put together an exciting program. The preliminary program suggests session topics will focus on innovation in:

  • Rangeland communication
  • Leadership and leveraging distant relationships
  • Mining and resource management
  • Water sharing in the rangelands
  • Pastoral production
  • Natural resource management
  • Emerging and alternative industries
  • Policy directions

The Organising Committee recently announced two guest speakers:

  • Mr Fred Chaney AO, Senior Australian of the Year in 2014, will provide the Plenary Address at the opening of the conference on 14th April 2015.  As founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an early advocate for Aboriginal voting rights, Fred’s contribution since 1961 includes helping establish the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs 1978-80, a Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal, chairing the Board of Desert Knowledge Australia and the Board of Central Desert Native Title Services.  His address will draw on his life’s work in Aboriginal Affairs, public administration with an emphasis on Aboriginal and other remote communities, reconciliation, and his desire to overcome the barriers that inhibit people’s full economic and social participation in Australian society.  He has a particular interest in how government often fails those who live and work in remote Australia.
  • Professor Stuart Bunn, from Griffith University, will be a keynote speaker, presenting the Rangeland Journal Lecture for 2015 at the conference.  He has a long and rich history of engagement with water issues, and his roles have included, amongst many, Director of Land and Water Australia, Commissioner of the National Water Commission, and Member or Chair of Advisory Panels for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Council.  He will address the challenges for water management and governance in dealing with competing demands for, for example, environmental water and the needs of grazing, cropping and mining.

Don’t forget:    Abstracts for Presentations are due 24 October 2014
                       Early bird Registration (save $100) closes 31 December 2014  

 

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NEWS FROM THE PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE

Ron Hacker, Chair, ARS Publications Committee.
Email: ron.hacker@crt.net.au

Continuing success for The Rangeland Journal

The Society’s official publication The Rangeland Journal is going from strength to strength. Older members of the Society will recall that it started life in 1976 as The Australian Rangeland Journal and adopted the new title in 1991, with the decision to move to the current format and seek more international content. For the last several years TRJ has been published for the Society by CSIRO Publishing which also handles the Journal’s international promotion and institutional subscriptions. The latest report from CSIRO Publishing indicates that 127 papers were submitted to the Journal in 2013, up from 109 in 2012 and 75 in 2008 (The 1976 issue contained five papers, five articles and seven thesis summaries, and a second issue did not follow until 1978). This upward trend is mainly due to increased numbers of international submissions with the journal now firmly positioned as an international publication.

From 2014 the Journal has moved to six issues per year, two of which will be Special Issues. Contracts or arrangements for these Special Issues are already in place till the end of 2015 and negotiations are in train for the first Special Issue of 2016. This increase in the volume of publication would not have been possible without the dedication of the Editor-in-Chief Professor John Milne, the Journal’s first international Editor-in-Chief, whose tenure has recently been extended by Council.

The Journal currently has 96 institutional subscribers, in 14 countries. Its Impact Factor has steadily improved over the long term, with a 5-year impact factor of 0.617 in 2007 and 1.532 in 2012. The latter figure is only marginally below the 5-year impact factor of 1.761 achieved by Rangeland Ecology and Management in 2012. Downloads of papers from the CSIRO Publishing web site fluctuates from year to year but ranges from 26,000 to 32,000 per annum.

Help manage the Society’s web site

The Publications Committee is seeking assistance from members of the Society to help manage the Society’s web site. This would involve taking responsibility for keeping some aspect of the site’s content up to date, working under the overall direction of the Web Site Editor, Russell Grant. This is not a demanding obligation and should involve no more than a couple of hours a week. It’s a great way to be of service to your Society and use or learn skills in web site management. If you are interested please contact me or Russell (russell.grant@lls.nsw.gov.au) to discuss how you might best contribute.

Newsletter archive on-line soon

Some 110 issues of the Range Management Newsletter, and its predecessor the Range Assessment Newsletter, have now been scanned and will be placed on the web site in the near future. These issues cover the period 1974 to 2007 and, together with the material already on the web, will complete the archive of the Society’s Newsletter publications. 

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MONITORING RANGELANDS: A MORE INTEGRATED APPROACH USING BIOPHYSICAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

John A Ludwig, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Box 780, Atherton, QLD 4883 (retired); current address, LASR Consulting, PO Box 900, Tolga, QLD 4882.   Email: lasr@tpg.com.au

Gary N Bastin, ACRIS Coordinator, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs, NT 0871.   Email: Gary.Bastin@csiro.au

Jocelyn Davies, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs, NT 0871.   Email: Jocelyn.Davies@csiro.au

Teresa J Eyre, Queensland Herbarium, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, QLD, 4006.   Email: Teresa.Eyre@science.dsitia.qld.gov.au


Introduction

Effectively managing for the sustainable use of rangelands while maintaining their biodiversity, social and cultural values depends on monitoring - measuring status and change in rangeland attributes, or their indicators, over time. Monitoring is becoming increasingly important globally as more and more people need a place to live that also provides basic products and services such as food, fibre and clean water. These people are also facing climate variability and climate change, and monitoring is needed to separate human-induced changes in rangelands from natural variability. Thus, it is critical to measure a range of attributes or indicators, from biophysical to socio-economic, that usefully detect changes. Are there new developments?

In this article, our aim is to look at some recent developments in indicators of rangeland status and change that are, or may prove to be, useful for a more integrated approach to monitoring and reporting across jurisdictions. Here we consider some recent developments in three-types of rangeland indicators: landscape function, biodiversity conservation, and socio-economic.

But measuring useful indicators is only one step in monitoring; another is reporting changes in indicators to those with an interest in rangelands (stakeholders) including those in agencies who make management and policy decisions affecting rangelands. In Australia, this reporting role is a function of ACRIS, the Australian Collaborative Rangeland Information System (Bastin et al. 2009). The most recent ACRIS report, Rangelands 2008-Taking the Pulse, documents changes in 24 indicators at regional and national scales for the period 1992 to 2005 (Bastin and ACRIS-MC 2008). Since this 2008 report, ACRIS has updated information on 16 indicators, such as for landscape function (Bastin et al. 2011).

Monitoring vegetation and soils is also being conducted by AusPlots Rangelands (White et al. 2012), which is part of the Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). The goal of AusPlots is to establish a system of 1 ha permanent plots for baseline and repeated ecological surveys across rangeland bioregions. In 2013, to build on plots previously surveyed in selected bioregions in SA, NSW, NT and WA, AusPlots Rangeland teams established and surveyed 1 ha plots in western QLD (see TERN e-Newsletter for July 2013; www.tern.org.au).

 

Scales of operation

Rangeland indicators can be viewed as operating at three spatial scales, from broad regional scales using mapped and remotely sensed data, to collecting field-based survey data from numerous sites spread across rangeland regions, to observing changes on specific (targeted) field sites (Figure 1). The frequency and ease (rapidity and detail) of monitoring different indicators is also important. As part of the following broader discussion of monitoring landscape function, biodiversity conservation and socio-economic indicators, we note where and how spatial and temporal scales apply.

 
Figure 1. Rangeland monitoring operates at three scales differing in extent of spatial coverage, ease of data collection, and the level of detail in measured data (redrawn from Eyre et al. 2011; also see Karfs et al. 2007 and Kutt et al. 2009). Integrating information across monitoring scales involves research, and data analysis and modelling, such as that applied by ACRIS for reporting changes in the rangelands.


Landscape function indicators

Landscape function is the capacity of land to capture and retain rainwater and soils, and their nutrients—resources that are vital for plant growth and where in turn plants provide the food and shelter required by animals who provide ecosystem services such as pollination. Directly measuring this functional capacity is difficult and costly, as watershed eco-hydrologists will attest (Bartley et al. 2006), but a number of more easily measured indicators of landscape function have been evaluated (Tongway and Ludwig 1997). One such indicator is the amount of persistent ground cover (e.g. perennial vegetation, logs, rocks) serving to obstruct and slow surface flows of water and wind (Figure 2), hence helping to retain (not leak) resources in the landscape.

 

Figure 2. Dense vegetation and litter cover (here in an exclosure) will function to retain rainwater and prevent wind erosion compared to ‘leaky’ bare soils (outside, where surface damage has been accentuated by animal movements around this exclosure located in the Upper Burdekin Catchment, QLD. Photo: John Ludwig, CSIRO

 

Currently, ACRIS reports on changes in persistent ground cover in the rangelands of South Australia and Western Australia using a system of field-based monitoring sites (e.g., Novelly et al. 2008). In their update report, Bastin et al. (2011) provide useful information on trends in landscape function for grassland and shrubland regions, with trends also evaluated relative to differences in seasonal quality. For example, with respect to seasonal rainfall, most of the grassland monitoring sites in regions in northern WA either maintained or had improved landscape functionality between 2006 and 2008.

If we shift-up in scale to the use of remotely sensed rangeland monitoring data (Figure 1), the recent development of a “dynamic reference-cover method” provides a measure of changes (trends) in persistent ground cover relative to reference (benchmark) areas (Bastin et al. 2012). This method builds on studies using remotely-sensed ground cover as a rangeland indicator (e.g., Karfs et al. 2009). The reference-cover method was found to be robust for detecting persistent ground cover changes relative to seasonal and grazing management effects based on two case study areas in Queensland, and is currently being evaluated over a ~640,000 km2 rangeland area of Queensland, which covers three drought periods between 1988 and 2005 (Bastin et al. 2014). Its potential application is also currently being evaluated on rangeland areas in NSW and the NT.

If we shift-down in scale to monitoring small, targeted field sites (Figure 1), a “landscape leakiness index” has been developed that uses high-resolution imagery and digital elevation data to estimate the potential for rangeland landscapes to lose (not retain) runoff and soil sediments (Ludwig et al. 2007). For example, in a test case in central Australia, where persistent vegetation cover increased from 17% in 1980 to 30% in 2002, the landscape leakiness index decreased, as expected, from over 0.3 to less than 0.1. Landscape leakiness index values range between 0 (non-leaky) and 1 (highly leaky). Because of data requirements in space and time, this leakiness index is more easily applied for monitoring targeted sites, such as small watersheds or paddocks. There is also a need to monitor targeted field sites because rangeland monitoring systems, such as WARMS (Pringle et al. 2006), do not adequately detect small areas where critical landscape changes are occurring (e.g., gully cutting), which can profoundly affect ecosystem dynamics (Pringle and Tinley 2003).

 

Biodiversity conservation indicators

The conservation of Australia’s biodiversity, as in other countries around the globe, is a growing concern, especially in our rangelands (Woinarski and Fisher 2003). However, despite a protracted history of initiatives aimed at developing and establishing standard protocols for monitoring biodiversity in the rangelands, there has been little progress towards uptake or implementation (Eyre et al. 2011; McAlpine et al. 2014). ACRIS identified a set of national scale indicators for reporting change in biodiversity, but concluded that most of these were either too coarse or too tenuously linked to biodiversity, limiting capacity to report on real change (Bastin and ACRIS-MC, 2008).

The direct monitoring of field-based sites can provide useful information on change in fauna and flora populations, as demonstrated by data from the Birds Australia atlas that suggested decline in many rangeland bird species (Mac Nally et al. 2004). Using widely-advocated criteria for indicator selection (e.g. Oliver et al. 2007; Smyth et al. 2009), 15 drivers and biotic attributes have been proposed as a standard set for monitoring rangeland biodiversity (Table 1) on field-based sites (Figure 1). Some of these attributes are already monitored in some jurisdictions, e.g., as part of their pastoral monitoring system, but the criteria for site selection mean that data have limited value for systematically monitoring biodiversity.

Table 1. A set of 15 core attributes proposed for surveillance monitoring as core indicators of rangeland biodiversity (for details see Eyre et al. 2011)

  Indicator (driver/biotic attributes)   Scale   Ecological process
  Tree density (by size)   Site   Structural

  Tree diversity

  Site   Compositional
  Trees with hollows   Site   Structural
  Tree canopy health   Site   Functional
  Shrub density   Site   Structural
  Shrub diversity   Site   Compositional
  Recruitment of dominant species   Site   Functional
  Coarse woody debris   Site   Functional, Structural
  Organic litter cover   Site   Functional, Structural
  Native grass species by basal area, frequency and cover   Site   Compositional, Structural
  Native forb species by frequency and cover   Site   Compositional, Structural
  Non-native species plant species by frequency and cover   Site   Compositional, Functional
  Specialised or regionally significant attributes   Site   Functional, Structural
  Remoteness from permanent water   Landscape    Functional
  Vegetation cover   Landscape      Functional, Structural

 

The selected set of 15 indicators is currently being evaluated as a cross-jurisdictional standard by a pilot program through a collaboration of ACRIS partners. Importantly, this pilot program uses a constrained, stratified sampling design and consistent and comparable assessment and detection methods. Early evaluations suggest that some of the proposed indicators have merit if sites are selected appropriately. However other issues, such as changing priorities within government organizations, are creating greater challenges than the more technical issue of appropriate indicator selection.

 

Social and economic indicators

It is critical to monitor indicators of the social well-being and economic capacity of those actually managing the rangelands, such as their ability to adapt their management of natural resources in the face of climate variability/change and their ability to deal with remoteness and limited availability of support. To better manage rangelands across scales, gauging the economic and social robustness of livelihoods of people living in rural communities is vital information (Davies et al. 2008; LaFlamme 2011).

Every five years, census information is collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on the social and economic well-being of people in communities, and in industries such as agriculture. The ABS also surveys a sample of primary producers between census years. Additional farm-level data is collected annually from a sample of primary producers by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES). ABS and ABARES data were used by ACRIS to quantify and report on changes in pastoral and non-pastoral agricultural production (e.g., livestock densities, horticulture) within rangeland regions (Bastin and ACRIS-MC 2008).

More recently, ACRIS has included data from the 2011 ABS Census in its analysis of demographic trends (Figure 3) where 2011 and earlier data were concorded (on an area-weighted basis) from the Statistical Local Area/Statistical Area regionalizations used by ABS to the Interim Bioregionalisation for Australia used by ACRIS 1(Bastin and ACRIS-MC 2008). There were strong regional patterns in the recent change in age dependency ratio, that is, the percentage of the Australian population that is of working age (see footnote 2). The age dependency ratio has consistently decreased in most WA bioregions, strongly so for the Pilbara, Gascoyne, Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts. Reasons vary with bioregion and are not yet fully understood. In the Pilbara, for example, many “productive” people work in the mining industry either as local residents in mining towns or as part of the fly-in-fly-out workforce. Some traditional pastoral bioregions have an ageing population (a related indicator shows that the median age of farmers is increasing in most rural communities) which, combined with youth migration to cities, may explain their proportional increase in the “unproductive” component of the population (i.e. positive slope for age dependency ratio).

A bioregion is a large, geographically distinct area of land and/or water that has assemblages of ecosystems forming recognisable patterns within the landscape. The current IBRA regionalisation divides Australia into 89 bioregions and 419 sub-regions. There are 52 bioregions or parts of bioregions in the ACRIS-defined rangelands (see IBRA v7 at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/national-reserve-system/science-maps-and-data/australias-bioregions-ibra). 
The age dependency ratio is the ratio of dependents (people younger than 15 or older than 64) to the working-age population (those aged between 15 and 64).It describes the proportion of “productive” people in the population and is an indicator based solely on assumptions about how age determines a person’s ability to participate in the workforce.

 

 

Figure 3. Trend in age dependency ratio for rangeland bioregions (IBRA v7) intersected with state/NT borders. Trend is based on the slope of the ratio calculated from the 2001, 2006 and 2011 ABS Population and Housing censuses. A negative slope means that, over time, an increasing proportion of the population was of working age. Conversely, a positive slope means that, over time, those under 15 or over 65 were increasing as a proportion of the population. Trend is not shown where


Analysis of census data for trends from 2006 to 2011 has also been undertaken by Nicholas Biddle and Francis Markham through the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU (Biddle and Markham 2013a,b). Their focus was to understand trends in Indigenous demography across Australia. In the process they also reveal insights into the distribution and mobility of other rangeland people. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies 38 Australian towns as remote or very remote, and whose population is not predominantly Indigenous based on its Australian Indigenous Geographic Classification. Most of these 38 towns occur in the rangelands and experienced population growth from 2006 to 2011 (10% for Indigenous and 9% for non-Indigenous populations). The average proportion of these town populations that is Indigenous grew very slightly (from 14.9% to 15%).

But, in “Indigenous towns” (small towns whose population is predominantly Indigenous) and in remote dispersed settlements, the non-Indigenous population grew markedly, by over 20% due mainly to net positive migration (Biddle and Markham 2013a). The rate of non-Indigenous population growth was 3 to 8 times that of the Indigenous population in these places. The remote dispersed settlements include Aboriginal ‘homelands’ or ‘outstations’ and overall their population is 70% non-Indigenous. Mining would be one influence on their growth while increased government investment in services to the “Indigenous towns” probably accounts for non-Indigenous population growth, through people moving to work in these places.

Analysis of the change in residence of people who gave their place of usual residence as one of Australia’s regional centres (population 10,000 to 250,000) is also revealing. A high proportion of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in all eight of the rangeland towns that were analysed said at the time of the 2006 census that they were living in a different place five years earlier (Biddle and Markham 2013b). Among these towns, Port Augusta had the lowest inter-censal mobility (40.1% Indigenous, 31.9% non-Indigenous) and Port Hedland the highest (56.4% Indigenous, 71.4% non-Indigenous).

Developing useful indicators for gauging socio-economic conditions in rangelands remains a challenge, that is, indicators based on data that can be collected in a routine manner and analysed for reporting status and trend, especially data that can be concorded to bioregions. One promising opportunity would be to quantify the level of engagement of people in local land management projects (Davies et al. 2011). For example, the Australian Landcare Council recently commissioned an analysis of the scope, diversity, success and barriers to Indigenous land management. The resulting report (Hill et al. 2013) tracks and maps the growth in investments for improved environmental and heritage outcomes on Aboriginal owned lands. The proportion of Australian government investments for environmental management that were directed at Aboriginal lands increased from $0.5 million (1.3%) in 1992-97 to at least $91 million (20%) in 2010-12. Much of this investment was in the extensive areas of Aboriginal owned rangelands whose large Indigenous Protected Areas, voluntarily declared by their landowners, now comprise 40% of the total area of Australia’s National Reserve System (Davies et al. 2013, Hill et al. 2013). Nearly 700 rangers work in more than 95 teams across Australia to manage these and other lands and coastal regions, but the proportion engaged in the rangelands has not been established.

Apart from the opportunities for improving rangelands, this Aboriginal engagement in contemporary environmental management is a promising direction for improved Aboriginal health that also aligns with Aboriginal conceptions of well-being (Davies et al. 2011). The link is becoming better recognized. For example, in 2013 a proposal was put forward to revise key indicators used nationally to monitor outcomes from policies directed at overcoming Indigenous disadvantage (SCRGSP 2013). The proposal would give more prominent attention to Indigenous well-being and culture as part of this monitoring. These indicators, which have been reported every two years since 2003, include some analysis of differences between remote/very remote regions and other parts of Australia that sheds light on the situation in the rangelands. For example, there are marked declines with remoteness in the proportion of Indigenous school students achieving literacy and numeracy benchmarks and in the extent of overcrowding in houses, but little change with remoteness in the proportion of Indigenous adults who are employed (about 50%) or not in the labour force (about 40%) (SCRGSP 2011).

There is also much scope to track the networks that rangelands people form with other people within and outside the rangelands when they interact for advice, support, marketing or other purposes. Some rangeland organizations, such as Desert Knowledge Australia (Taylor et al. 2008) and natural resource management boards (Measham et al. 2011a,b) have invested in building stronger networks amongst rangeland people that help to overcome the tyrannies of distance. Based on these experiences and others, we expect rangeland people’s networks to be different to those of people in more densely settled regions with less variable environments (McAllister et al. 2008, McAllister et al. 2011). Improved access to digital technologies has also changed rangeland networks, and that process is ongoing. However, the potential to use the characteristics and dynamics of rangeland networks as indicators of community engagement, innovation, adaptation or resilience shows promise, but has not as yet been explored.

 

Future developments

Here we briefly discussed recent developments for three types of indicators of rangeland condition being monitored and assessed in Australia. But, further developments are in progress because of the importance of monitoring and managing the health of rangelands around the globe (e.g., Damdinsuren et al. 2008). Major challenges remain for ACRIS: (i) in developing indicators that scale-up, that is, integrate across local to national scales, and (ii) effectively combining the information from multiple but different indicators such as those for landscape function and socio-economics.

Values for such indicators are certainly not additive and ACRIS has, until now, selectively combined information as descriptive text. One approach that may assist stakeholders in evaluating and acting on diverse indicator information is the “T-mark continuum” diagrams proposed by Bastin et al. (2010) where various indicators are aligned on parallel continuums of functionality. For example, pastoral districts or bioregions dominated by palatable varieties of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) might score well for landscape function and profitability of grazing enterprises but rank lowly for biodiversity conservation indicators.

 

Acknowledgements

We thank Ian Watson and John Neldner for suggesting ways to improve this article.

 

References

Bartley, R., Roth, C. H., Ludwig, J. A., McJannet, D., Liedloff, A., Corfield, J., Hawdon, A., and Abbott, B. 2006. Runoff and erosion from Australia’s tropical semi-arid rangelands: influence of ground cover for differing space and time scales. Hydrological Processes 20, 3317-3333.

Bastin, G., and ACRIS-MC (Management Committee). 2008. Rangelands 2008—Taking the pulse. Published on behalf of the Australian Collaborative Rangeland Information System (ACRIS), Australian Government, Canberra, ACT. Available at: www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/rangelands/australian-collaborative-rangelands-information-system-acris.

Bastin, G., Denham, R., Scarth, P., Sparrow, A and Chewings, V. 2014. Remotely sensed analysis of ground-cover change in Queensland’s rangelands, 1988-2005. The Rangeland Journal 36, 191-204.

Bastin, G. N., Ludwig, J. A., and Richardson, K. 2010. Coded T-mark continuums: a graphical method for reporting rangeland monitoring data. The Rangeland Journal 32, 145-153.

Bastin, G. N., Scarth, P., Chewings, V., Sparrow, A., Denham, R., Schmidt, M., O’Reagain, P., Shepherd, R., and Abbott, B. 2012. Separating grazing and rainfall effects at regional scale using remote sensing imagery: a dynamic reference-cover method. Remote Sensing of Environment 121, 443-457.

Bastin, G. N., Stafford Smith, D. M., Watson, I. W., and Fisher, A. 2009. The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System: preparing for a climate of change. The Rangeland Journal 31, 111–125.

Bastin, G., Thomas, P., Novelly, P., Fleming, M., and Baulderstone, C. 2011. ACRIS Landscape Function Update 2006-2010: Updated information to that provided in Rangelands 2008 – Taking the pulse. Report, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australian Government, Canberra, ACT. Available at: www.environment. gov.au/topics/land/rangelands/australian-collaborative-rangelands-information-system-acris.

Biddle, N., and Markham, F. 2013a. CAEPR Indigenous Population Project: 2011 Census Papers. Paper 9: Mobility. ANU, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Canberra, ACT. [online] caepr.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/cck_indigenous_outcomes/2013/05/2011CensusPaper09_Mobility.pdf

Biddle, N., and Markham, F. 2013b. CAEPR Indigenous Population Project: 2011 Census Papers. Paper 12: Regional Centres. ANU, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Canberra, ACT. [online] caepr.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/cck_indigenous_outcomes/2013/10/Census%20paper%2012%20Regional%20Centres.pdf

Damdinsuren, B., Herrick, J. E., Pyke, D. A., Bestelmeyer, B. T. and Havstad, K. M. 2008. Is rangeland health relevant in Mongolia? Rangelands 30, 25-29.

Davies, J., Campbell, D., Campbell, M., Douglas, J., Hueneke, H., LaFlamme, M., Pearson, D., Preuss, K., Walker, J., and Walsh, F. 2011. Attention to four key principles can promote health outcomes from desert Aboriginal land management. Rangeland Journal 33, 417-431.

Davies, J.,Hill, R., Sandford, M., Walsh, F., Smyth, D., and Holmes, M. 2013. Innovation in management plans for Community Conserved Areas: experiences from Australian Indigenous Protected Areas. Ecology and Society 18, 14.

Davies, J., White, J., Wright, A., Maru, Y., and LaFlamme, M. 2008. Applying the sustainable livelihoods approach in Australian desert Aboriginal development. Rangeland Journal 30, 55-65.

Eyre, T. J., Fisher, A., Hunt, L. P., and Kutt, A. S. 2011. Measure it to better manage it: a biodiversity monitoring framework for the Australian rangelands. Rangeland Journal 33, 239-253.

Friedel, M. H., Laycock, W. A., and Bastin, G. N. 2000. Assessing rangeland condition and trend. pp. 227-262. In: ‘Field and Laboratory Methods for Grassland and Animal Production Research.’ (Eds. L. ‘t Mannetje and R. M. Jones), CABI, Wallingford, UK.

Hill, R., Pert, P. L., Davies, J., Walsh, F., Robinson, C., and Falco-Mammone, F. 2013. Indigenous land management in Australia: Extent, scope, diversity, barriers and success factors. Report to Australian Landcare Council Secretariat, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Cairns, QLD. [online] www.daff.gov.au/__data/ assets/pdf_file/0010/2297116/ilm-report.pdf.

Gibbons, P., and Freudenberger, D. 2006. An overview of methods used to assess vegetation condition at the scale of the site. Ecological Management and Restoration 7, S10-S17.

Karfs, R. A., Abbott, B. N., Scarth, P. F., and Wallace, J. F. 2009. Land condition monitoring information for reef catchments: a new era. Rangeland Journal 31, 69-86.

Karfs, R. A., Chilcott, C., and Scarth, P. F. 2007. Land Monitoring Information for Grazing Management. Pages 63-69 in Proceedings of the North Australian Beef Research Update Conference held in Townsville, QLD.

Kutt, A. S., Eyre, T. J., Fisher, A., and Hunt, L. 2009. A Biodiversity Monitoring Program for Australian Rangelands. Report for Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australian Government, Canberra, ACT.

LaFlamme, M. 2011. A framework for sustainable rangeland livelihoods. Rangeland Journal 33, 339-351.

Ludwig, J. A., Bastin, G. N., Chewings, V. H., Eager, R.W., and Liedloff, A. C. 2007. Leakiness: a new index for monitoring the health of arid and semiarid landscapes using remotely sensed vegetation cover and elevation data. Ecological Indicators 7, 442-454.

Mac Nally, R., Ellis, M., and Barrett, G. 2004. Avian biodiversity monitoring in Australian rangelands. Austral Ecology 29, 93-99.

McAllister, R. R. J., Cheers, B., Darbas, T., Davies, J., Richards, C., Robinson, C. J., Ashley, M., Fernando, D., and Maru, Y. T. 2008. Social networks in arid Australia: a review of concepts and evidence. Rangeland Journal 30, 167-176.

McAllister, R. R. J., Holcombe, S., Davies, J., Cleary, J., Boylea, A., Tremblay, P., Stafford Smith, D. M., Rockstroh, D., LaFlamme, M., Young, M., and Rola-Rubzena, M. F. 2011. Desert networks: a conceptual model for the impact of scarce, variable and patchy resources. Journal of Arid Environments 75, 164-173.

McAlpine, C., Thackway, R., and Smith, A. 2014. Towards an Australian Rangeland Biodiversity Monitoring Framework. Discussion paper developed from a biodiversity monitoring workshop convened by Australian Collaborative Rangeland Information System (ACRIS). University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.

Measham, T. G., Brake, L., Robinson, C. J., Larson, S., Richards, C., and Smith, T. F. 2011a. NRM engagement between remote dryland communities and government agencies: Success factors from Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 75, 968-973.

Measham, T. G., Richards, C., Robinson, C. J., Larson, S., and Brake, L. 2011b. Genuine Community Engagement in Remote Dryland Regions: Natural Resource Management in Lake Eyre Basin. Geographical Research 49, 171-182.

Novelly, P. E., Watson, I.W., Thomas, P. W. E., and Duckett, N. J. 2008. The Western Australian Rangeland Monitoring System (WARMS) – operating a regional scale monitoring system. Rangeland Journal 30, 271-281.

Oliver, I., Jones, H., and Schmoldt, D. L. 2007. Expert panel assessment of attributes for natural variability benchmarks for biodiversity. Austral Ecology 32, 453–475.

Pringle, H., and Tinley, K. 2003. Are we overlooking critical geomorphic determinants of landscape change in Australian rangelands? Ecological Management and Restoration 4, 180-186.

Pringle, H. J., Watson, I. W., and Tinley, K. L. 2006. Landscape improvement, or ongoing degradation – reconciling apparent contradictions from the arid rangelands of Western Australia. Landscape Ecology 21, 1267-1279.

SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision). 2011. Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2011. Productivity Commission, Melbourne, VIC. [online] pc.gov.au/gsp/overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage/key-indicators-2011

SCRGSP. (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision). 2013. Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Consultation Paper. Productivity Commission, Melbourne, VIC. [online] pc.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0009/124011/oid-2013-consultation-paper.pdf

Smyth, A.K., Brandle, R., Chewings, V., Read, J., Brook, A., and Fleming, M. 2009. A framework for assessing regional biodiversity condition under changing environments of the arid Australian rangelands. Rangeland Journal 31, 87–101.

Taylor, J., Ffowcs-Williams, I., and Crowe, M. 2008. Linking desert businesses: the impetus, the practicalities, the emerging pay-offs, and building on the experiences, Rangeland Journal 30, 187–195.

Tongway, D. J., and Ludwig, J. A. 1997. The conservation of water and nutrients within landscapes, Chapter 2. pp. 49-61. In: ‘Landscape ecology, function and management: principles from Australia’s rangelands’. (Eds. J. A. Ludwig, D. T. Tongway, D. Freudenberger, J. Noble and K. Hodgkinson), CSIRO Publishing, East Melbourne, VIC.

White, A., Sparrow, B., Leitch, E., Foulkes, J., Flitton, R., Lowe, A. J., and Caddy-Retalic, S. 2012. AusPlots Rangelands Survey Protocols Manual, Ver. 1.2.9. University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide, SA. Available at: www.tern.org.au/AusPlots-Rangelands-Survey-Protocols-Manual-pg23944.html

Woinarski, J. C. Z., and Fisher, A. 2003. Conservation and the maintenance of biodiversity in the rangelands. Rangeland Journal 25, 157-171.

 

John’s Bio:  John is an ecologist with an interest is in the health of rangeland vegetation.  From 1996 to 2006 John served as a Theme Leader for research on Landscape Ecology and Health as part of CSIRO’s partnership with the Tropical Savannas Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) based in Darwin.   John worked for CSIRO from 1985 to 2007 and after retiring continued as a CSIRO Honorary Fellow, based at in Atherton, Queensland, until 2013.   He also worked in the Biology Department at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM, USA, from 1969 to 1985.  He currently serves as an editor for Austral Ecology and Restoration Ecology.   John resides with ecologist spouse, Rosalind Blanche, by Tolga, Queensland.   

 

 

 

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2014 RANGELAND JOURNAL LECTURE - AUSTRALIA'S RANGELANDS: SOME DISMAL SCIENCE PERSPECTIVES

Date:  Wednesday 3 September, 12-1 pm

Speaker:  Leo Dobes, Crawford School, ANU

Location:  Fenner Seminar Room, Frank Fenner Building #141, Linnaeus Way, ANU

Presented by:  Fenner School of Environment & Society, ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment

The study of Australia’s rangelands by scientists and agronomists is generally motivated by the laudable objective of improving the livelihoods of producers, as well as their contribution to the well-being of other Australians.  However, scientific research is often focused on understanding physical phenomena and effects.  Although some work also takes into account effects on farm profitability there is a considerable risk that wider economic effects can be ignored by a one-sided focus on purely commercial perspectives. 

From a broader economic perspective, there is a need to address issues such as the current system of drought relief, negative externalities due to land degradation and feral animals, potential positive externalities from natural sequence farming, and dealing with an uncertain future climate.  A key sub-text of the presentation is that obvious, deterministic solutions are not necessarily always the best ones. Greater cross-disciplinary collaboration can increase the policy relevance of research.

A graduate of Melbourne University, Leo Dobes completed a DPhil in the area of East European economics at the University of Oxford in 1980.   Since then, he has been an Australian diplomat, an intelligence analyst in the Office of National Assessments, a policy adviser in a range of Commonwealth departments, including Defence, The Treasury, and a research manager in the Bureau of Transport Economics.  He played a key role in developing and implementing the reform of the telecommunications sector in 1990-91.

Leo is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian National University and at the University of Canberra.  He was President of the ACT Economic Society in 2012. His main research interests are adaptation to climate change, and cost-benefit analysis.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

ANU Public Lecture Series information: anu.edu.au/publiclectures

For more information contact Ken Hodgkinson at Ken.Hodgkinson@csiro.au

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ARS AWARDS REMINDER

 

APPLICATIONS FOR THE NEXT ROUND OF THE ARS TRAVEL GRANT AND SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS CLOSE 30 NOVEMBER 2014.

FURTHER DETAILS ON THE CONDITIONS OF THE AWARDS CAN BE FOUND NEAR THE END OF THIS NEWSLETTER 

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NEW JORNADA EXPERIMENTAL RANGE BLOG

The Jornada Experimental Range in New Mexico, USA is hosting a new blog called Land Ecology.  Posts are intended for a broad audience. The blog was catalyzed by efforts of JER, universities and agency partners to build a science around Ecological Sites, state and transition models and their management applications.

As indicated on the website “Why this blog?  Professionals involved in the management and science of land are strongly divided.   We are divided by land uses (rangeland, cropland, forestland, wilderness), disciplines and attributes of interest (soil scientists, social scientists, wildlife managers), and subtle differences in societal background (rangeland managers vs. grassland ecologists).   Competing visions for land, alongside misunderstanding of how land functions, result from the disunion.   The silent majority of land managers and planners apply certain of these visions, for better or worse, to mold the face of the Earth.  Divided we will fail in Teddy Roosevelt’s “great central task” of leaving land in better condition for our descendants.

The land ecology blog is a small venue in which to bridge the divides.   We hope it brings together the global community of professionals dealing with universal problems of land ecology, including land health evaluation, land uses, mechanisms of ecosystem change, the role of scale and spatial connectivity, reconciling demand for multiple ecosystem services, alternative ecosystem states and tipping points, restoration, adaptive management, knowledge system development, and many other topics.”

Brandon Bestelmeyer and Joel Brown will keep the blog going and solicit posts to keep it interesting.  You can join in at landecology.org

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UPCOMING RANGELAND CONFERENCES

30 Jan - 7 February 2015 - Society for Range Management’s 68th Annual Conference, Sacramento California, USA (Theme: Managing Diversity)    Website: www.rangelands.org

12 - 16 April 2015 - Australian Rangeland Society’s 18th Biennial Conference, Alice Springs, Northern Territory (Theme: Innovation in the Rangelands)    Website: www.austrangesoc.com.au

17 - 22 July 2016 - Xth International Rangeland Congress, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Theme: The Future Management of Grazing and Wild Lands in a High Tech World) The preliminary Technical Program has been released online along with preliminary information on pre-Congress and mid-Congress tours. The first Call for Papers will be in December 2014.
Website: www.2016canada.rangelandcongress.org
 

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NEW MEMBERS

Andrew Sinel - McLaren Flat SA

Rob Langley - Adelaide SA

Raymond Stacey - Charters Towers Qld

Sarah McDonald - Condobolin NSW

Michelle Armistead - Alice Springs NT

Pieter Conradie - Alice Springs NT 

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MINUTES FROM THE 2014 AUSTRALIAN RANGELAND SOCIETY AGM

 

2014 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - Meeting #239

21 May 2014
37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie, Queensland, 4070


MINUTES

 

1. Open meeting

The meeting was opened at 5.05 pm (EST).
Present: John Taylor, Peter Marin, Carolyn Ireland, Graeme Tupper, Annabel Walsh, David Phelps, Richard Silcock

2. Apologies

Peter Johnston, Don Burnside, Dionne Walsh, Margaret Friedel, Ron Hacker, Dana Kelly, Noelene Duckett, Tony Pressland, Bruce Alchin

3. Minutes of the 2013 Annual General Meeting (Meeting #231)

The 2013 AGM was held on 23 May 2013. Peter Marin moved that the minutes be received as a true and accurate record of the meeting. Seconded: Carolyn Ireland, Carried.
There were no items arising from the minutes for discussion.

4. President’s Report – John Taylor

The names of directors in office at any time during or since the end of the year are:

J.A. Taylor (Professor, University of Queensland to June 2012, Age 63)
C. Ireland (Principal, Ireland Resource Management Pty Ltd, Age 67)
P.F. Marin (Senior Consultant, MLCS Corporate Pty Ltd, Age 40)

The Society’s operations for the year resulted in a loss of $20,427.

The Society publishes and circulates three newsletters and four journals (soon to be six) to the members annually, runs a biennial conference, provides grants to assist members with travel and research, and promotes the advancement of the science and art of using Australia’s rangeland resources for all purposes commensurate with their continued sustainability and productivity. There were no significant changes in the nature of these activities

Review of operations

Council met six times by teleconference during 2013 and held an Annual General Meeting on 23 May 2013 (a total of 7 meetings). Five of the teleconferences were scheduled meetings, and one was an ‘out of session’ meeting to address specific topics.

The following were members of the ARS Council, and attended () meetings during 2013:

J Taylor (7)           President

C Ireland (7)        Secretary

P Marin (5)           Finance and Audit Officer/Company Secretary

G Tupper (6)        Subscription Manager/General Member,

B Forsyth (3)        General Member

L Lauder (0)         General Member (From January to April 2013)

K Masters (3)       General Member

A Walsh (6)          General Member

D Phelps (5)        General Member (From May to December 2013)

Other Council activities during 2013 have included:

  • Endorsing a Policy and setting a schedule of fees for advertising in ARS publications.
  • Endorsing the recommendation of the Publications Committee that Dr Ron Hacker be appointed Chair of the Publications Committee, replacing Dr Ken Hodgkinson. A plan was implemented to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Responding to the motion from the General Meeting at Kununurra regarding support for the Rangelands Australia educational initiative by establishing a committee of Council and Ordinary members, chaired by Ben Forsyth, to explore options for continuation of the only Rangeland Management program in Australia. Council endorsed the planned membership and terms of reference for this committee and received an interim report in late 2013.
  • Consideration of recommendations from the Publications Committee for appointments and renewal of appointments as Associate Editors and Advisory Editors of The Rangeland Journal.
  • Discussion of the results of the surveys of members and conference participants conducted in late 2012. A summary of the findings was published in the Range Management Newsletter and further feedback on strategies to address members and potential members’ needs was sought from ARS members.
  • Consideration of the report of the 17th Biennial Conference (2012 Kununurra). The field trips, program and networking were widely valued, and Council congratulated the Organizing Committee (chaired by Paul Novelly) and Meeting Masters, the Conference Organizer, for a very successful conference. The review of the conference will be a valuable guide to future conference organizers.
  • Planning for the 18th Biennial Conference. Discussions with key players in the host city, Alice Springs NT, have led to this meeting being deferred until April 2015. Council members, John Taylor and Ben Forsyth, were nominated as members of the Conference Organizing Committee and have kept Council informed of progress.
  • Succession planning. With half of the Council members due to retire in 2015, a plan has been developed to attract new Council members with the necessary skills and qualifications to lead the Society forward.
  • Developing a strategy for securing the ARS archives that have been stored at Middleback Station. With the Defense Department taking over the station, a new home for the archives was sought and plans developed to move the archives to Moorna Station for safe storage. This will be actioned in 2014.
  • Revising the guidelines for ARS travel grants and scholarships to improve clarity. These were endorsed at the 2013 AGM, posted on the Society’s website and published in the Range Management Newsletter. Applications were subsequently sought for 2014, and Neil MacLeod, Graeme and June Tupper and Graeme Hand were the successful applicants.

In addition to Council, the Society continues to rely heavily on volunteers who fulfill vital roles. As of 31 December 2013 these are:

PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE
Dr R. B. Hacker                   Chair
Professor S. Blake
Dr D.G. Burnside
Dr J. Davies
Dr N. Duckett                       Editor of Range Management Newsletter
Professor D.J. Eldridge
Mr R. Grant                          Editor of Society Website
Dr P.W. Johnston
Dr K.C. Hodgkinson
Dr J. Milne                            Editor-in-Chief of The Rangeland Journal
Dr R.D.B. Whalley

Dr R. B. Hacker was appointed Chair of the Publications Committee from 1 July 2013, replacing Dr Ken Hodgkinson who continued as a member of the Committee. The terms of Drs Eldridge, Hodgkinson, Johnston and Whalley, terminated on 31 December 2013 with all except Dr Johnston accepting reappointment from 1 January 2014. Dr A. J. Ash will replace Dr Johnston from 1 January 2014.

ASSOCIATE EDITORS
Professor E M Abraham      Argentina
Dr A.J. Ash                             Australia
Dr B.T. Bestelmeyer             USA
Dr B.D. Cooke                       Australia
Professor O.P. Dube            Botswana
Professor B. Hubert              France
Professor R. Long                China
Mr N.D. Macleod                  Australia
Dr A.J. Pressland                 Australia
Dr D. Race                            Australia
Dr M. Stafford-Smith            Australia
Dr G. Wardle                        Australia
Dr R.D.B. Whalley               Australia

A/Professor M.E. Fernández-Giménez resigned during the year and Professor E.M Abraham and Dr G Wardle were appointed

ADVISORY EDITORS
Dr J.R. Brown                      USA
Dr M. Friedel                       Australia
Professor I. Gordon           Scotland
Professor J. Huang            China
Professor Z. Nan                China
Professor O. Sala               USA
Dr B.H. Walker                    Australia
Professor D. Wang            China
Dr A. Waters-Bayer           The Netherlands
Dr I. Wright                          Ethiopia


Publications

The Rangelands Journal
In 2013, 122 manuscripts were received. This continues the upward trend in submitted papers which has risen from 81 papers in 2009. The increasing submission rates indicate increased confidence / interest in the Journal. Because of the higher submission rates, the number of issues published annually will rise from four to six beginning in 2014. Two of these six issues will be Special Issues as in the recent past.

The Journal has a significant web presence on the CSIRO publishing site. Archival back content (all Volumes to date) 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. The TRJ web site was well utilized with an increasing number of subscribers/ARS members accessing the site. Papers have been downloaded 26,820 times, approximately 74 individual papers per day in 2013. The most read paper in 2013, was “Revegetation with Australian native grasses – a reassessment of the importance of using local provenances” by R. D. B. Whalley, I. H. Chivers and C. M. Waters published in Volume 35 (2) in June 2013.

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 two years. The Citation Impact Factor for 2012 was 1.276 continuing a generally upward trend over the past few years. This means that the Journal has maintained its strong profile in the research community while consolidating the content to four regular issues over the citation periods. The Citation Impact Factor places the Journal in rank 95th out of 136 journals listed in the Ecology category. The steady rise in the Impact Factor (from 2009 to 2013) is directly related to publication of ‘high impact’ papers, rigorous reviewing and 'active encouragement' for readers to cite papers. The most cited paper (31 citations) over this 4-year period is “Climate change impacts on northern Australian rangeland livestock carrying capacity: a review of issues” by McKeon G. M.; Stone G. S.; Syktus J. I.; et al. published in Volume 31 (1) in March 2009.

Other highlights for the Journal included:

  • Publication of a Special Issue entitled Celebrating Diversity: people, place and purpose from the papers submitted to the 2012 Biennial Conference in Kununurra. The Special Issue was edited by Dr R B Hacker and comprised 12 papers including a synthesis by the guest editor based on his summary of the conference presented to the final plenary session.
  • Development of the contract format and protocol for production of future Special Issues. Publication of two Special Issues per year will be a vital component of the move to six issues of the Journal per year from 2014.
  • Two Rangeland Journal Lectures, promoting the Journal and the Society, were delivered during the year. Dr Joel Brown (USDA-NRCS, Las Cruces, New Mexico) presented a lecture entitled Providing rangeland ecosystem services: improving management decisions with a systematic approach in Brisbane in September and Dr Margaret Friedel (CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences) presented a lecture entitled A million years of change: wind, flood and fire in the Simpson Desert in Alice Springs in November. Both lectures were well received by audiences of approximately 60 in Brisbane and 100 in Alice Springs. The Alice Springs lecture is available on the ARS web site.
  • A survey of Advisory Editors was undertaken on the scientific direction of the journal and whether there were new initiatives that the journal should make. The Advisory Editors were supportive of the current direction that the journal was taking but suggested that there was a need to attract more social science papers.

The Society Website
The ARS website and associated email system was regularly updated with current information as a significant means of communicating with members and the public during the year. However discussions have been ongoing towards updating layout and format in the near future. The task of scanning and loading the papers of proceedings of Biennial Conferences continues. Eventually all papers will be electronically published and available on both the Society and the Global Rangelands Repository websites. Range Management Newsletters will be scanned in 2014 and placed on the Society’s website.

The Range Management Newsletter
Three issues of the Newsletter were published in both electronic form on the Website and as hard copy to members requiring this. The flow of articles for 2013 was similar to previous years with both volunteered and invited major contributions being received. Initiatives undertaken during the year included a revamping of the book review process and the continuance of the ARS member profile articles which first appeared in late 2012. Regular updates from Council were also included in each issue.

Biennial Conference

The biennial conference is a significant event in the Society’s calendar and provides the main mechanism for members and guests to interact and exchange ideas about the use and management of Australia’s rangelands.

Planning is in train for the next conference, to be held in Alice Springs in April 2015.


Membership Report – Graeme Tupper

Membership of the Society had remained more or less stable at around 350-400 members from 2002 until 2012. However in 2013 numbers dipped to 336 by year’s end.

In December 2013 there were 246 members managed by the Society with CSIRO Publishing managing another 90, giving a total of 336. The corresponding figures for December 2012 were 260 plus 94 (=354), December 2011 were 297 plus 94 (=391), December 2010 were 306 plus 79 (=385), December 2009 were 273 plus 83 (=356), 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 in 2004, 434 in 2003 and 427 in December 2002.

The addition of new members has always fluctuated between conference and non-conference years. There were 26 new members in 2013 (a non-conference year), 44 new members in 2012 (a conference year), 23 new members in 2011 (a non-conference year), 84 new members in 2010 (a conference year), 19 new members in 2009, 70 new members in 2008 (a conference year), 23 new members in 2007, 41 new members in 2006 (a conference year) and 30 new members in 2005. However, the trend in new memberships is negated by losses through retirements, and an increased number of non-renewals, in spite of rigorous efforts by the Subscription Manager to encourage all members to renew.

Council continues to support a presence at major international range-related events in an effort to grow the membership, but this has not resulted in an increased overseas membership.

The majority (97%) of members and subscribers come from Australia, with about 50% of members coming from Queensland and New South Wales. There were 7 international members, compared to14 at the same time in 2012, 13 in 2011, 23 in 2010, 20 in 2009, 15 in 2008 and seven in 2007.

The membership figures include five ARS Fellows and seventeen “ex-officio” non-paying members such as the National Library of Australia, and Associate Editors for The Rangeland Journal. It is also noted that the Society has about 24 landholder addresses amongst its members.

Subscription rates for those subscribers managed by the Society remained unchanged for 2013 ($100 for Full Members resident in Australia). However, for members wishing to receive a printed copy of the Range Management Newsletter an additional $15 is payable, plus a “late” fee of $15 is added to the subscription for continuing members who fail to renew by 31st March.
In addition to publishing The Rangeland Journal, CSIRO Publishing manages subscriptions for the Society’s “Library” subscribers as well as some of its “Institutional / Corporate” subscribers. Mailing labels were prepared for 90 CSIRO subscribers for the last Newsletter of 2013.

Carolyn Ireland moved that the Directors’ Report for the year ending 31 December 2012 be accepted. Seconded: Annabel Walsh, Carried.


5. Financial Report – Peter Marin

The financial affairs of the Society remain on a strong footing with a loss from ordinary activities of $20,427 (2012: profit of $3,436) and total equity/accumulated surplus of $200,691 (2012: $221,118).

The Society’s total equity is $200,691 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.

Richard Silcock moved that the Financial Report for the year ending 31 December 2012 be accepted. Seconded: Graeme Tupper, Carried.


Motions on notice

Motion 1
Solvency resolution
‘That the Directors have reason to believe that the Australian Rangeland Society Ltd will be able to pay its debts as and when they become due and payable.’

Moved: John Taylor, Seconded: Carolyn Ireland, Carried.


6. General business

There was no general business.


7. Close meeting

The President closed the meeting at 5.20 pm (EST). 

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2014 ARS MEMBERSHIP RATES

2014 Membership Rates; GST inclusive, $15 will be deducted if paid before 1st April

                                                                                         Australia           Overseas Airmail

Individual or Family

  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)/Student                $115/$95              $140/$115
  • Part (Newsletter only)/Student                           $75/$60                $85/$65

Company

  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)                                   $150                      $180
  • Part (Newsletter only)                                             $90                        $105

* Please note that the RMN will only be available electronically to members except those who pay an additional $15 membership subscription to receive a printed copy of each issue - see note below under the heading Membership Subscription Rates for 2014

New members are encouraged to join the Society via the ARS website (www.austrangesoc.com.au) and renewing members should also pay their 2014 dues through the website, if possible.  A renewing member should logon using their Username, which is their email address as in the ARS database, and their Password, which is “new login xxxx”, xxxx being the member’s membership number.  If you do not know your membership number, please contact Graeme Tupper by email, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au. Some members may have changed their Password in the database, in which case, Graeme Tupper will not know it. If you encounter problems in logging on, contact Graeme Tupper.

  • All rates are quoted in AUSTRALIAN currency and must be paid in AUSTRALIAN currency.
  • Membership is for the calendar year 1st January to 31st December. New member subscriptions paid after 1st October are deemed as payment for the following year.

Any member who has not paid his/her subscription by 31st March of the financial year for which it is payable shall be deemed unfinancial, and all his/her rights and privileges as a member of the Society are suspended until the subscription is paid.

Membership Subscription Rates for 2014

The 2014 Subscription Rates remain as for 2013.  For members who wish to receive a printed copy of the RMN, an additional $15 membership subscription will be required, except for members who do not have an email address, who will continue to receive a printed copy as part of their standard membership fee.Any enquiries relating to this should be directed to Graeme Tupper, Subscription Manager, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au   

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GUIDELINES FOR THE AUSTRALIAN RANGELAND SOCIETY AWARDS

ARS AWARDS - NEW GUIDELINES

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.

The Guidelines for these awards have been recently revised and are set out below.  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.


The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant

Name

  • It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant.

Purpose

  • The Grant is intended to assist an eligible person or persons to attend a meeting, conference, or congress which deals with the art or science of managing rangelands; or to assist an eligible person or 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.

Determination

  • The Grant will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposal in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.

Conditions

  • Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”.
  • One or more Travel Grants can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
  • Applications should include details of costs and set out precisely how the Grant is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
  • Successful applicants are required to submit an article reporting on their activities, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter or Journal, as appropriate, within six months of completion of travel.
  • Applications should include the names of at least two referees.

Eligibility

  • No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who have little or no organisational support.
  • Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Travel Grant. Travel can be either within Australia or overseas. Overseas travel can include travel to Australia by overseas members.

Acquittal

  • Any Grant awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who will provide to Council full details of expenses incurred within four weeks of completion of travel. Unexpended funds must be refunded to the Society.
  • The recipient will submit their written report to Council within six months of completion of travel.

Miscellaneous

  • Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
  • These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served.

 

 

The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship

Name

  • It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship.

Purpose

  • The Scholarship is an annual award intended to assist an eligible person or persons to undertake formal study of a subject or course which will enable the recipient to pursue the art or science of rangelands management and 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.

Determination

  • The Scholarship will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposed course of study to rangelands management and in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.

Conditions

  • Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”.
  • One or more Scholarships can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
  • Applications should include details of the program of study or course to be undertaken and the institution under whose auspices it will be carried out. It should state precisely how the Scholarship is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
  • Applications should include the names of at least two referees.
  • Upon the conclusion of a course of study a recipient of a Scholarship will be required to write an article on their experiences, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter.

Eligibility

  • No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who do not have any organisational support.
  • Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Scholarship. Study can be undertaken either within Australia or overseas. Overseas study can include study in Australia by overseas members.
  • A recipient who has received a Scholarship in any one calendar year, if undertaking a continuous course of study, can apply for a further Scholarship, provided that the person has satisfied council as to the proper acquittal of any previous monies and has demonstrated satisfactory progress. Notwithstanding, such a person will not necessarily be given preference over other applicants.

Acquittal

  • Any Scholarship awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who, depending upon the length of the course undertaken, will be required to report to Council on the progress of study at a regular interval as determined by Council. Unexpended funds shall be refundable to the Society.
  • The recipient will submit their final written report to Council within six months of completion of study.

Miscellaneous

  • Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
  • These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served.

 

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