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Range Management Newsletter 14/3

 

November 2014 – Range Management Newsletter 14/3


FROM THE EDITOR

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

 

Welcome to the last Range Management Newsletter for 2014. It is currently a very busy and exciting time for the Australian Rangeland Society. Preparations for the upcoming Biennial Conference in Alice Springs next April are in full swing. The Organizing Committee recently received over 100 paper and poster abstracts, and they have been keenly reading through all of these to finalise the session details for the Conference Program. For all the latest information please read the Conference Update in this issue. I also want to draw your attention to two workshops that are being run just prior to the Conference – the “Spatial Resources and Tools to Support Rangeland Condition and Trend” and “Making a Splash With Video Online” workshops. Both look excellent so please indicate your interest in attending either one of these events early to avoid disappointment! Further details on the workshops and information on how to register are given in the Conference Update.

It is also exciting to discover that the Australian Rangeland Society turns 40 next year!  I am looking forward to receiving some reflective articles about the Society commissioned by Council for publication in next year’s newsletters.  Perhaps now is also the time to trawl through that old photograph collection to find some hidden gems that may also be of interest to our members! Council has come up with a few suggestions for ways to celebrate – let them know if you have any other ideas!

The next issue of the RMN is due out in March 2015 so I would be grateful if you could please have your articles to me by early February.    

I hope you all have a happy and healthy festive season - see you in 2015!

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FROM THE PRESIDENT

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

Since the July Newsletter your Council has met twice, considering reports on membership and finances. Council has endorsed recommendations from the Publications Committee for further expansion of the Society’s social media activities, further special editions of The Rangeland Journal, improvements to the website, and extensions of appointments as Associate Editors and members of the Publications Committee. Council has also endorsed role statements for key players in the Society, and these are provide elsewhere in this edition as part of an article on current and future vacancies on Council.

Plans for the April 2015 Biennial Conference in Alice Springs are progressing well. The Organizing Committee has developed a great program around the theme of ‘Innovation in the Rangelands’ and the planned field trips and socials will be great catalysts for some robust discussions on current and emerging issues in our vast rangelands. I hope you are planning to attend.

The next meeting of Council is scheduled for early December. At this meeting we will be considering applications for ARS Travel Grants and Scholarships. Further information on these are provided in this edition of RMN. Also on the agenda will be the current casual vacancy on Council. 

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ARS TURNS 40 IN 2015

John A Taylor, ARS President and Director
On behalf of the ARS Council

The Australian Rangeland Society was established in late December 1974 for the following purposes:

  1. To promote the advancement of the science and art of using Australia’s rangeland resources for all purposes commensurate with their continued productivity and stability;
  2. To encourage and develop an awareness of the need to conserve the inherent resources of Australia’s rangeland areas;
  3. To encourage and reward the study of rangeland science and improved rangeland management
  4. To provide a means for the interchange of ideas and information amongst Society members and with those of allied disciplines concerned with rangelands;
  5. To hold periodical meetings of Society members in different parts of Australia;
  6. To publish a journal for distribution among Society members and other interested persons and bodies.

There have been many achievements under each of these objectives for which the Society and its members can be very proud. Your Council has decided to celebrate these achievements in 2015 in a number of ways. For example,

  • A short presentation as part of the General Meeting of the Society at the 2015 Conference.
  • Commission reflective articles (1-2 page) for the RMN and forward-looking articles for TRJ on current and emerging issues. These could involve long-standing and new members.
  • A special cover for the 2015 editions of the Range Management Newsletter.
  • A collection of images and the program from the first meeting in Canberra in 1975 as a poster for the 2015 Conference.

If you have other ideas of how we might celebrate this milestone or would like to contribute a reflective article please do not hesitate to contact me via email at taylamob@tpg.com.au.  Thanks, and I hope you will join in these celebrations.  

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ARS BIENNIAL CONFERENCE 2015 - AN UPDATE FROM THE CONFERENCE ORGANISER

Ray Bird, Meeting Masters, PO Box 335, Leederville WA 6903.  Email: enquiry@meetingmasters.com.au

Conference Brochure

Printed and electronic copies of the Australian Rangeland Society 18th Biennial Conference brochure will be available via the conference website at www.arsconference.com.au or from Meeting Masters on Tel: (08) 9380 9804 or Fax (08) 9238 1336 in late November.

With the theme of “Innovation in the Rangelands” details will include the Conference Program sessions and times, Keynote Speaker profiles, Call for Papers update, details of the four Field Trips, a list of the Conference Partners and information on the various social activities.

2015 Conference “Early Bird” closing date looms

Members are reminded that the “Early Bird” closing date is 31st December 2014. Registrations details can be obtained from the conference website and either register online or download the registration form and either fax or mail to Meeting Masters at PO Box 335, Leederville WA 6903.

Where are you staying?

Whilst delegates will be arranging their own accommodation, the conference organisers would like to know where you are staying.

As previously advised, coach transfers to and from the conference venue will only be to the seven nominated accommodations – Lasseters Hotel Casino, DoubleTree by Hilton, Desert Palms Resort, Alice in the Territory, Quest Apartments, Alice on Todd and Big 4 MacDonnell Range Caravan Park.

Please advise the name of your accommodation to enquiry@meetingmasters.com.au so that we can ensure adequate transport is available.

It is suggested that delegates not staying at one of the nominated properties, could arrange to be at one of the locations, however, we need to know your preference.  

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ARS BIENNIAL CONFERENCE 2015 - PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS

In the March issue of the RMN, Council called for expressions of interest in running training and skills workshops in the lead up to the 2015 Conference. We are pleased to report that two workshops have been approved by the ARS Council and will run subject to sufficient interest.


Workshop 1: Spatial Resources and Tools to Support Rangeland Condition and Trend

An ARS conference workshop supported by: TERN/AusCover, NRM Spatial Information Hub, ACRIS, NT Department of Land Resource Management, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts

Date:                Sunday 12 April 2015

Time:               9:00am to 4:30pm

Location:         Arid Zone Research Institute and the nearby Old Man Plains Research Station

Cost:                Free thanks to sponsorship by AusCover

Registration:    Via the Conference website (www.arsconference.com.au). Limited to first 25 applicants

As part of the ARS Conference, you are invited to attend a hands-on workshop and field visit covering some of the spatial mapping and monitoring tools available to rangeland managers in the context of farm planning, development and management. These tools can help users address issues related to managing total grazing pressure, determining when and where overstocking is occurring as seasonal conditions change, trigger points for action and timeliness, capturing the location and history of fires and water and providing advice based on consistent and quantitative monitoring.

Workshop overview
Consideration of ground cover is an important aspect of rangeland management. For example, maintaining good ground cover can reduce the risk of losing soil through wind and water erosion; a rapid decline in ground cover may indicate a need for a change in land management; and slow recovery of ground cover after good rainfall may indicate a non-resilient system, requiring management intervention. Ground cover is also influenced by the land type, the location of watering points and infrastructure, the location and frequency of fires and the regional and local climate.

A number of organisations who are concerned with natural resource management have developed spatial products and programs, including TERN/AusCover, The NRM Spatial Information Hub, ACRIS, the NT Dept of Land Resource Management and the Qld Dept of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. These include the AusCover MODIS and Landsat fractional cover, fractional ground cover and persistent green state and trend products, Landsat and MODIS burnt area mapping, the dynamic reference cover method, cover deciles, time series plots, comparative cover analysis, VegMachine and the On-line Property Planning and Information System (OPPIS).

This workshop will start with an indoors hands-on session covering the synergies, strengths and monitoring requirements in each of the organisations above. We will also demonstrate how the various products and tools work, how they can be accessed and used both digitally and as paper maps, and how downloadable reports can be generated from online systems operating remotely.

We will then travel to Old Man Plains Research Station to demonstrate the mapping and monitoring tools in the context of property planning, development and management. Participants will participate in a series of hands-on applied exercises based on the materials, which will include:

  • The collection of field data using handheld devices
  • The interpretation of remotely sensed and modelled products in the context of current and historical environmental conditions
  • A discussion of the strengths and limitations of the methods
  • Collect feedback on how they could be improved.
  • Identify future new systems/technologies to be assessed

Further information and registration
For more information please contact Peter Scarth (p.scarth@uq.edu.au). To register your interest in attending please go to the ARS conference web site under the heading of Conference Program, sub-heading Training and Workshops.

 

Workshop 2: Making a Splash With Video Online

What:             Video storytelling and social media workshop

When:            11-12 April 2015

Where:           Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs

Cost:              $550 (discounted from the usual rate of $950)

Registration:  Contact the workshop organiser Alun Hoggett directly via email (alun@dcq.org.au) or phone (0427 427969)

Desert Channels Digital has been producing short films throughout the rangelands of Australia for over five years. We have a solid history of creating short documentary style pieces and news stories, yet our productions run the gamut from promotional and educational films right through to corporate videos and event coverage.

We invite you to dive in with us as we share our knowledge and love of digital storytelling. You will learn video production techniques and social media skills that will enable you to share your stories and promote your ideas. This skillset supports innovation in the rangelands by tapping into social networks so that individuals, groups and organisations can pursue their goals with a dynamic and engaged community.

You will be part of a hands-on workshop, focusing on interaction and practical skills. We will take everyone through the steps to produce a short news story or documentary style film. You will launch the film online during the workshop and promote it through social media, getting the chance see how it goes in the participants’ combined social networks.

By the end of the workshop, you will have contributed towards the pre-production, production and online publication of a high quality short video. As part of this process, you will be given the option to either learn how to make highly effective, low budget videos using smartphones, or be given a basic introduction to the use of DSLR cameras in filmmaking.

Video story telling

Story telling techniques:

  • Story structure
  • Script writing (documentary/news story style Effective interviews

Audio:

  • Capturing quality sound
  • External microphones and recording devices
  • Editing sound
  • Mixing music to support the story

Vision:

  • Framing & composition
  • Camera angles and movement
  • Lighting (artificial and natural sources)
  • Use of tripods and hand held shooting
  • Editing vision
  • Uploading films to online platforms like Youtube

Social media & digital marketing

Using videos and social media to promote your cause: digital marketing basics.

  • An overview of popular social media platforms & their potential as marketing tools
  • The importance of identifying your target audience
  • Sharing your videos on social media channels
  • How to create a facebook page for your group/organisation/cause
  • How to manage a page & leverage social networks
  • How to write engaging online copy
  • Monitoring your performance on Facebook and Youtube


Workshop Details
The workshop will be held at the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens in Alice Springs which will provide pleasant surrounds for both practice and learning.

We are offering the 2 day workshop at a discounted rate of $550. The workshop would usually cost $950 per participant. We need a minimum of 20 people for it to go ahead so let us know if you are keen to attend. Alun’s contact details are below.

Who are we?
Desert Channels Digital is the commercial digital media production arm of the Desert Channels Group.  See our work on: www.youtube.com/user/DesertChannels

Alun Hoggett - Digital Producer with 5 years experience filming and editing stories from around the outback and managing the highly successful Desert Channels Digital YouTube Channel. Over 300 films produced to date.  Contact Alun on alun@dcq.org.au, ph 0427 427969

Jody Brown - Digital production assistant and manager of social media for Desert Channels Digital. Film school graduate - Queensland University of Technology.


 

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VACANCIES ON THE ARS COUNCIL

John A Taylor, ARS President and Director
On behalf of the ARS Council

From time to time positions on the ARS Council become available through the completion of fixed terms or resignations. There is currently a vacancy for a General member on Council, and in a little over 6 months, four positions on the ARS Council will become available with the retirement of two Directors of the Society (i.e. President and Finance & Audit Officer) and two General Members of Council, one of whom is currently the Subscriptions Manager.

To ensure a smooth transition at the May 2015 AGM, Council is now seeking Expressions of Interest from financial Members who are willing to contribute significantly to the Society’s primary objectives, viz:

  • to promote the advancement of the science and art of using Australia's rangeland resources for all purposes commensurate with their continued productivity and stability;
  • to encourage and develop an awareness of the need to conserve the inherent resources of Australia's rangeland areas;
  • to encourage and reward the study of rangeland science and improved rangeland management;
  • to provide a means for the interchange of ideas and information amongst Society members and with those of allied disciplines concerned with rangelands;
  • to hold periodical meetings of Society members in different parts of Australia;
  • to publish a journal for distribution among Society members and other interested persons and bodies.

Council believes that a mix of experience and youth from among the RD&E professionals, practical land managers and others working in the rangelands will be important for the leadership necessary for the Society to continue to meet its objectives over the next 5-10 years.

Ideally, prospective members of Council would have experience of Australia’s rangelands and a willingness to commit to bi-monthly Council meetings, usually held by teleconference, and respond to occasional out-of-session correspondence. The Council also meets face-to-face as part of the Society’s Biennial Conference. Appointments to these Council positions would be for a 4-year term, with possible extension to a maximum of eight years.

The duties and expectations of the various positions on Council are provided below.

Members interested in any of these positions should submit an expression of interest that specifies the preferred role, addresses the key competencies and knowledge required for that role, and includes a current CV to the Secretary of the ARS, Carolyn Ireland (cireland@irmpl.com.au) by Sunday 30th November 2014. Please note that all members of Council are willing to discuss their roles with prospective new Councillors. The contact details of the incumbents are provided on the inside cover of the RMN.

We look forward to your expressions of interest.  

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ARS COUNCIL ROLE STATEMENTS

The management and control of the business and the affairs of the Australian Rangeland Society are vested in the Council. Council comprises the Officers of the Society, namely the President, the Finance and Audit Officer, the Secretary, and up to five General Council Members. The President, the Secretary and the Finance and Audit Officer are the designated Directors of the Society. The maximum term for an officer of the Society is four years. However, members can re-nominate for one further four-year term.


President and Director

General

Provide leadership and ensure that Council fulfils its governance responsibilities in managing the business effectively to meet the objectives of the Society as defined in the Articles and Memorandum of Association.

It is estimated that the time spent on Council matters is approximately 2-3 hours/week, with perhaps a day’s intensive activity in the week before and after Council meetings. No fee or remuneration is paid by the Society for the performance of this role.

Duties

  • Ensure good governance of Council and the ARS. Fulfil the responsibilities of a Director and ensure that ASIC and ATO obligations are met.
  • Provide operational leadership in matters relating to the ARS.
  • Convene and Chair bi-monthly Council teleconferences, biennial face-to-face Council meetings and joint meetings of the Council and Sub-committees such as the Publications Committee.
  • Participate in Conference Organizing Committee(s) to provide a direct link to Council.
  • In collaboration with the Secretary, prepare meeting agendas.
  • Identify issues and risks, and provide strategic direction regarding the Society’s future.
  • Induct new Councillors and provide support for other Councillors in matters relating to the ARS.
  • Report regularly to Members through the Range Management Newsletter.
  • Oversee the development of, and act as the Signing Officer for, the annual Directors Report, and chair the AGM in May.
  • Promote the ARS, act as the leader and spokesperson for the Society, and where appropriate represent the ARS in public.
  • Liaise with ARS partners and other relevant bodies to progress the science and art of using Australia’s rangeland resources for all purposes commensurate with their continued productivity and stability.

Key Competencies and Knowledge

  • Capacity to commit time to the above duties, attend and participate actively in bi-monthly Council meetings, and to progress ARS business out-of-session by responding promptly to requests from Council for information or action.
  • Training and experience in ‘best practice’ corporate governance for the NfP sector, and understanding of the responsibilities of a Director under ASIC.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally; and strong inter-personal skills.
  • Considerable experience and networks in the rangelands.
  • Ability to work as part of an effective team and contribute to team effectiveness.
  • Advanced user of Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook.


Secretary and Director

General

The Secretary shall attend or be represented at all meetings of the Society and of the Council. He/she shall prepare minutes of all such meetings for presentation to the next subsequent meeting, and under the direction of the Council, shall conduct the correspondence of the Society.
It is estimated that the time spent on Council matters is approximately 2-3 hours/week. However, during the week of a bi-monthly Council Meeting the time spent would be about 1-2 days depending on the meeting. No fee or remuneration is paid by the Society for the performance of this role.

Duties

  • Fulfil the responsibilities of a Director and ensure that ASIC and ATO obligations are met. Ensure good governance of Council and the ARS.
  • Attend and participate actively in bi-monthly Council teleconferences and biennial face-to-face meetings.
  • Prepare the Agenda for meetings. (Email Council members beforehand to ask for any items to be included.)
  • Take the Minutes at the meetings, compile an action list and circulate both to Councillors within 5 days of a meeting.
  • Undertake any follow-up activities post Council meetings.
  • Maintain a Minute register, policy manual and relevant files.
  • Support all Councillors in their role(s), act as liaison between individual Council members, sub-committees and Council as a whole.
  • Act as the 'front line' person for correspondence (email, phone, mail) between the public, ARS members and Council. Forward correspondence to the relevant person for action. Maintain a Correspondence Register and report items at Council meetings.
  • As a Director, approve expenditure and signatory on the Society’s bank accounts.

Key competencies and Knowledge

  • Capacity to commit time to fulfil the above duties, attend and participate actively in Council meetings, and to progress ARS business out-of-session by responding promptly to requests from Council for information or action.
  • Training and experience in ‘best practice’ corporate governance for the NfP sector, and understanding of the responsibilities of a Director under ASIC.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally; and strong interpersonal skills.
  • Considerable experience and networks in the rangelands.
  • Ability to work as part of an effective team and contribute to team effectiveness.
  • Advanced user of Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook.


Finance and Audit Officer and Director

General

The Finance and Audit Officer shall receive and pay into the Society's bank account all monies received by him/her on account of the Society and pay all accounts approved by the Council, and shall prepare or cause to be prepared annual accounts for submission to the Council and the annual general meeting of the Society.
It is estimated that the time spent on Council matters is approximately 2 hours/week. No fee or remuneration is paid by the Society for the performance of this role.

Duties

  • Fulfil the responsibilities of a Director and ensure that ASIC and ATO obligations are met. Ensure good governance of Council and the ARS.
  • Attend and participate actively in bi-monthly Council teleconferences and biennial face-to-face meetings.
  • Overview the financial position, book-keeping practices and audit processes of the ARS.
  • Supervise and liaise with the Bookkeeper of the Society.
  • Report the Society’s financial position in writing to Council bi-monthly and annually to members.
  • Manage the ARS’s finances by:
    1. Receiving, receipting and depositing funds paid directly to the Society.
    2. Disbursing the funds of the Society in accordance with the purposes of the Society, and keeping adequate and appropriate records of such disbursements.
    3. Paying all accounts forwarded to the Society.
    4. Keeping all receipts, payment information, bank statements etc. in a central filing system, and for the time required by ASIC, ATO, etc.
    5. Preparing and submitting quarterly BAS reporting including making payments if required.
    6. Maintaining the Society bank accounts and monthly balances, and reporting balances to Council at its bi-monthly meetings and to members annually.
    7. Approving expenditure and being a signatory on the Society’s bank accounts.
    8. Oversee the transfer and management of funds between the Society bank accounts, including the operational, conference and savings account.
  • Work with the Society's biennial Conference Committees to transfer seed funds and ensure appropriate preparation and management of budget and operational spending. This also includes changing signatories of conference bank account.
  • Oversighting the annual Audit process and providing financial statements to ASIC and the ATO as required by legislation. This includes working with the auditor and other Council members to prepare sections of the audit report.
  • Convene and Chair the Finance and Audit Committee (as required).

Key competencies and Knowledge

  • Qualifications and/or experience in ‘best practice’ financial management and accounting practices, including budgeting, book-keeping and reporting.
  • In-depth understanding of the financial responsibilities of a Not-for-Profit organization under ASIC, ATO and relevant legislation.
  • Capacity to commit time to fulfil the above duties, attend and participate actively in Council meetings, and to progress ARS business out-of-session by responding promptly to requests from Council for information or action.
  • Training and experience in ‘best practice’ corporate governance for the NfP sector, and understanding of the responsibilities of a Director under ASIC.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally.
  • Experience and networks in the rangelands.
  • Ability to work as part of an effective team and contribute to team effectiveness.
  • Ability to work closely with the book keeper of the Society.
  • Advanced user of Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word and Outlook.


Subscription Manager

(NOTE: This position is not necessarily a Council position, but that is valuable.)

General

The Subscription Manager shall be responsible for a Register of Members that shall contain such particulars as the Council shall, from time to time prescribe. He/she shall be responsible for a Register of Subscribers to the Society's publications.

It is estimated that the time spent on Council matters is approximately 10 hours/week in the early part of the membership/calendar year. Thereafter, it is around 5 hours/week. A small remuneration is paid for the performance of this role.

Duties

  • Overview ARS membership trends and issues by maintaining a membership database.
  • Identify and lead initiatives to attract and retain members.
  • Report on membership issues to Council bi-monthly and annually to members.

Where the Subscription Manager is also a member of Council, his/her duties would include:

  • Attend and participate actively in bi-monthly Council teleconferences and biennial face-to-face meetings.

a) Membership Subscription and Database Management

  • Maintain the membership databases as required.
  • Review and maintain Rangeland Management Newsletter database.
  • Membership Renewal Notice – From 1st January each year, prepare and send out renewal notices electronically.
  • Process membership renewals. Send at least two reminder Renewal Notices to members as the 31 March deadline approaches.
  • Membership reports – Prepare a brief report for each Council meeting, and a major report for the AGM.
  • Membership Queries – Respond to all membership queries.
  • Maintain historical membership paper records.
  • Maintain mailing lists for the publication of The Rangeland Journal - Provide CSIRO Publishing with up to date lists, and new member email addresses.

b) Printing and posting of Range Management Newsletter

  • Liaise with the RMN Editor on RMN printing schedules, and proof-read the final draft.
  • Liaise with a local printing firm about all aspects of the printing of the RMN.
  • Maintain mailing lists.
  • Prepare and print mailing labels and post to the members who require a printed copy. In addition, as required, post back copies of TRJ and RMN to new members.


Key competencies and Knowledge

  • Capacity to commit time to fulfil the above duties, attend and participate actively in Council meetings, and to progress ARS business out-of-session by responding promptly to requests from Council for information or action.
  • Understanding of corporate governance expectations and standards in the NfP sector.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally, and strong interpersonal skills.
  • Experience and networks in the rangelands.
  • Ability to work as part of an effective team and contribute to team effectiveness.
  • Advanced user of Microsoft Office applications such as Access, Excel, Word and Outlook.

 

General Member

General

General Members of Council are expected to contribute actively to meeting the objectives of the Society.

It is estimated that the time spent on Council matters is approximately 2-3 hours/week and 4-6 hours prior and post the bi-monthly teleconferences. Additional time may be required for sub-committee and other tasks as the need arises. No fee or remuneration is paid by the Society for the performance of this role.

Duties

  • Attend and actively contribute to the business of regular Council teleconferences and biennial face-to-face meetings.
  • Promote the ARS and rangeland science and management.
  • Work with the Subscriptions Manager to attract new members.
  • Identify and raise current and emerging issues relating to the science and art of using Australia’s rangelands for all purposes commensurate with their continued productivity and stability.
  • Chair subcommittees of the Council and report back with decisions.
  • Step up into more senior roles if and as required by the Directors.

Key competencies and Knowledge

  • Capacity to commit time to attend and participate actively in Council meetings, and to progress ARS business out-of-session by responding promptly to requests from Council for information or action.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally.
  • Experience and networks in the rangelands.
  • Understanding of corporate governance expectations and standards in the NfP sector.
  • Ability to work as part of an effective team.
  • Competent user of Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word and Outlook. 

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ARS TRAVEL AWARD 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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2014 ARS TRAVEL GRANT SUMMARY REPORT

Neil MacLeod, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Agriculture Flagship, 44 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park QLD 4102.   Email: neil.macleod@csiro.au

Helped by support from the ARS Travel Grant Fund, I had the privilege in July to travel to Bloemfontein in the Free State Province of South Africa to participate at the 49th annual congress of the Grasslands Society of Southern Africa (GSSA). The GSSA is a body that has many parallels with the Australian Rangelands Society, both of which I have held a membership of for many years. In fact, I am presently one of the two international members of the GSSA’s Board of Trustees.

I mentioned the similarity between the ARS and the GSSA, and before getting to the Congress in Bloemfontein, I should give a little background to the body and perhaps expand a little on the differences.

The GSSA

Firstly, the GSSA represents itself as being a dynamic and inclusive forum for scientists and practitioners in rangeland ecology and pasture management, which champions the sustainable use of rangelands and pastures for the benefit of people and the environment. In this sense, it possibly has a wider disciplinary base than the ARS, summed up perhaps as a blend of the present ARS, the now defunct Tropical Grassland Society and some aspects of the present grasslands societies of temperate Australia.

GSSA members and associates are quite active in a range of applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management, rangeland rehabilitation and socio-economic aspects of rangeland management under different land tenure regimes. Perhaps a point of apparent differentiation between the GSSA and ARS is a much stronger focus on the agronomy and production values of dryland pastures than the nature conservation dimensions of their management. Nevertheless, while the Society has historically had a strong agricultural focus, the social and environmental sciences are increasingly represented among its members and activities.

A second area of contrast is the structure of the GSSA’s membership which continues to grow with over 450 members of whom 90% are based in South Africa and 10% in other countries, mainly in the SADC. Much of the membership growth is due to the drawing into its ranks members of the growing body of young black African scientists and extension specialists within South Africa and neighbouring countries including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. As a guide to this potential for recruitment the Limpopo Department of Agriculture (former Transvaal) has approximately 700 black African extension officers on its payroll. The origin of the new membership has also been a factor in the increasing focus of interest in smallholder and subsistence farming systems rather than the more intensive farming systems that characterise the commercial farming sector of southern Africa.

The Association has an ongoing outreach program which includes, mentoring and offering short term training in such topics as veld management, plant identification, fire management and so on, all of which support its recruitment success. Perhaps unlike Australia, the GSSA still enjoys strong support from a range of universities as well as government departments - primarily agriculture but also various conservation agencies.

As a professional association the GSSA publishes the African Journal of Range and Forage Science and a quarterly bulletin Grassroots. Unlike the ARS biennial conferences, the GSSA holds an annual Congress in July which typically draws around 200 plus South African and international delegates. As noted, the ARS travel award was deployed to help me participate in this year’s Congress.

49th Annual Congress Bloemfontein, 20th-25th July

The 2014 annual Congress was held at the Phillip Sanders Resort and Conference Centre which is sited beside a reservoir on the Orange River approximately 20kms from Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein is the Capital City of the Free State Province and also the Judicial Capital of South Africa having the High Court located there. The venue itself is an interesting one because it was originally the site of the construction camp for the dam and later used as a bit of a low budget holiday camp. However, only a couple of years ago the village was completely demolished to make way for a new upmarket convention facility to host a one-off annual conference of the ruling African National Congress, which was originally formed in Bloemfontein. This single exercise cost South African taxpayers many millions of Rand, which is obvious from the facilities, but for most of the time since it has stood virtually empty as something of a white elephant. Nevertheless, it was more than comfortable for the congress participants, if not a bit unkempt around the edges – the below freezing overnight temperatures of the highveld in July possibly did little to soften that up.

 

 

Photo 1.   Phillip Sanders Venue.

 

For this year the Congress was preceded by a one day fire training workshop and a young scientists’ research skills workshop, both of which were well conducted and fully subscribed to. In fact, these pre-congress exercises are a major selling point of the various congresses.

The main body of the congress drew in 240 delegates from a diverse array of National and Provincial research and extension agencies, Landcare groups, agribusiness interests, and development assistance programs, as well as a substantial number of farmers. Approximately 40% of the delegates were black Africans primarily from South Africa and the SADAC countries.

The keynote address for the opening ceremony was an exceptionally interesting piece of oratory, given by the only person who could offer such commentary – a black African, in this case Professor Jonathan Jansen the Vice Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State. The theme was what was wrong with education in contemporary South Africa and general critique of falling standards in both education and general governance in the Rainbow Nation – something most people quietly admit, but rarely state boldly in public.

The program centred on 9 themes ranging across the traditional topics of agronomy, fire, weed and grazing management through wildlife conservation and game farming through smallholder R4D issues and participator research methods. I presented a keynote paper detailing the novel methods that a collaborative ILRI-CSIRO-CIMMYT-QAAFI project was employing with ACIAR funding with smallholder crop-livestock farming systems in Mashonaland and Matabeleland (Zimbabwe). This presentation had the title ‘A systemic approach to smallholder livelihoods betterment – an example based on value adding for integrated crop-livestock systems in Matabeleland’ and drew considerable interest from the delegates. The core activities of the project which involve on and off-farm opportunity seeking through innovation platforms and scenario modelling were regularly highlighted in subsequent discussion forums at the Congress. Positive feedback is always nice to get.

Several other Australian delegates were present at the Bloemfontein Congress, including John Taylor representing the ARS and Chris Materne from the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (NTDPIF).

Drawing on his considerable experience with Rangelands Australia and beyond, John gave a well-received address on ‘Developing and delivering a range science and management curriculum to meet stakeholder needs’.

Chris gave an excellent presentation on the scope for increasing productivity of Centralian cattle holdings that drew on work at Old Man Plains Research Station near Alice Springs. He had to re-iterate that the size of the holdings listed in one slide was not a typo – the scale of our range livestock operations remaining something of a puzzle to Africans, especially those dealing with smallholders on a few hectares with only a few animals to feed.

 

Photo 2.   John Taylor talking to another delegate during a coffee break.

 

Although I have travelled quite extensively over the past 20 or so years, the sponsored trip to Bloemfontein was both professionally and personally rewarding and has created an opportunity to further 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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NON-PASTORAL AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND VALUE IN THE RANGELANDS

Gary Bastin and Vanessa Chewings (retired), CSIRO Land and Water, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs NT 0871. Email: gary-bastin@bigpond.com


Introduction

The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) operated between 2003 and mid 2014. During that time it sought to provide timely information about components of biophysical, economic and social change in the rangelands (further information in the July 2014 issue of the RMN (Ludwig et al. 2014) and at www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/rangelands/australian-collaborative-rangelands-information-system-acris, accessed 22 August 2014).

Agricultural statistics collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provide a comprehensive and reliable source of data describing agricultural productivity and associated economic value. The data are collected through five-yearly census of all farm businesses with a smaller sample surveyed in intervening years. Grazing of cattle and sheep is the most extensive commercial land use in the rangelands (57.6% of area in 2005-06) and ACRIS has used this component of the agricultural statistics to track change in regional grazing pressure due to domestic livestock (examples in Figs. 3.28 to 3.31 of Bastin and ACRIS-MC 2008; more recent information available at www.environment.gov.au/resource/livestock-density-update-2009-2011, accessed 22 August 2014).

Although limited in total area, parts of the rangelands have significant levels of production and value from cropping and horticulture. The importance of this non-pastoral agricultural activity in the rangelands, based on the 2001 agricultural census, was reported in Rangelands 2008 – Taking the pulse (Bastin and ACRIS-MC 2008).

Bioregions as a consistent regionalisation for reporting

ACRIS has used the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) as its preferred map base for reporting biophysical and socio-economic change in the rangelands. A bioregion is a large, geographically distinct area of land that has groups of ecosystems forming recognisable patterns within the landscape. The most recent IBRA revision is version 7 (further information and shapefile available at: www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/national-reserve-system/science-maps-and-data/australias-bioregions-ibra).

Contrasting with the IBRA regionalisation, ABS uses Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) as its base spatial unit to disseminate socio-economic statistics. Each SLA is sufficiently large in area to maintain anonymity of data collected from individuals and businesses during censuses and surveys. Thus SLAs are smaller in area in urban areas and larger in sparsely populated regions.

Area-weighted concordance can be used to proportionally spread (or smear) the data from individual SLAs to their component IBRAs (illustrated in Fig. 1, weights for this example area listed in Table 1). This type of concordance gives more reliable results where component data are reasonably dispersed across individual SLAs. Where agricultural production is focussed in particular areas, two types of estimation error associated with area-weighted concordance will result:

  1. For SLAs that are entirely within the rangelands, the proportional distribution of product (and associated value) from a localised production centre to the IBRA in which that locality occurs will be under-represented. Conversely, the distribution of product and value to other IBRAs covered by the SLA will be over-represented.
  2. For SLA that straddle the rangelands boundary and have most of their agricultural production outside the rangelands, the area-weighted distribution of the SLA’s production and value to rangeland IBRAs and the total for the rangelands will likely be over-estimated. The converse will apply if an agricultural focal area is in the rangelands part of an SLA that straddles the boundary, but this type of under-representation is less likely than the previously described over-representation.

We have applied a rule-set (described in the following Methods section) to try and minimise errors associated with simple area-weighted concordance of non-pastoral agricultural production and value from SLAs to their corresponding IBRAs.

Methods

We estimate non-pastoral agricultural production and value for rangeland bioregions based on data released by ABS from the 2011 Agricultural Census. Reported economic values are based on ‘gross value’ as defined by ABS: that is, the value placed on recorded production at wholesale price(s) realised in the market place. The market place is defined, in general, as the point(s) of valuation of a commodity where ownership of the commodity is relinquished by the agricultural sector.

Broadacre cropping

Broadacre production of winter cereals extends into the eastern rangelands in NSW and south east Queensland (Figure 2). Additional small areas of winter-cereal cropping occur in the rangelands near Port Augusta (SA) and east of Geraldton (WA). This map indicates the probable area cropped in 2005-06 and derives from the national map of land use in Australia at that time. National land use mapping is currently being updated based on the 2011 Agricultural Census. This map was not available at the time of our analysis (the land-use map and further explanatory information is available att http://adl.brs.gov.au/anrdl/metadata_files/pa_luav4g9abl07811a00.xml, accessed 1/5/2013).

Most of the general area in each region is likely to have continued under cropping in 2011 although actual location and total area may have changed. We assume also that most winter-cereal cropping in the rangelands is wheat for grain.

We calculated the proportional area of SLAs within state-level sub-regions of rangeland IBRAs (i.e. sub-IBRA v7). This allowed for improved spatial allocation of SLA-level data within bioregions. Relevant proportions were then used as weights (or factors) to apportion the area, amount and value of wheat reported for each SLA to their corresponding rangeland sub-IBRAs. In the process, we excluded rangeland sub-IBRAs with <1% of their area used for winter cereal production based on the 2005-06 land use map.

 

Figure 1. The spatial relationship between SLAs and IBRAs in the southern part of the Northern Territory and examples of area-weighted concordance used to distribute SLA data values to corresponding IBRAs. Red lines show SLA boundaries with their names labelled on the map.



Table 1. Proportional areas of SLAs in IBRAs for the example area mapped in Figure 1.

 

Hay and horticulture

Production of these agricultural commodities is more dispersed throughout the rangelands. The proportional area of SLAs within state-level rangeland IBRAs (v7) was first calculated. These area-based weights were then individually checked and some manually altered to better indicate the most probable IBRA as the source of production (detail available from the authors). For example, horticultural data in the Broome-Derby area of Western Australia (Broome and Derby-West Kimberley SLAs) are more accurately assigned to the Dampierland IBRA rather than being proportionally distributed to the Ord Victoria Plain, Central Kimberley, Great Sandy Desert and North Kimberley IBRAs which also intersect the SLA. In doing so, we sought to preserve the anonymity of individual businesses. That is, the ABS does not release commodity data for SLAs where the population size is small and it may be possible to identify individuals.

The final set of adjusted weights was used to estimate the production and value of hay and various horticultural commodities within rangeland bioregions.

 

Figure 2. The probable areas of winter cereal cropping in the rangelands in 2005-06 based on national mapping of land use. Darker lines show IBRA (v7) boundaries and lighter lines indicate sub-IBRAs. The bioregion legend identifies cropped rangeland bioregions.

 

Agricultural production and value

Wheat for grain

Our estimates of rangeland wheat production assume that:

  1. A similar area to that mapped as having a high probability of winter cereal cropping in 2005-06 continued under the same land use at the time of the 2011 Agricultural Census (i.e. 2010-11).
  2. Most of the area cropped with winter cereals was wheat for grain.

Based on concordance of SLA data, almost five million tonnes of wheat was harvested from approximately 21,000 km2 in the rangelands in 2011 (Table 2). Most of this cereal cropping occurred in the eastern part of the NSW rangelands. A considerable area was also planted to wheat in parts of the Southern Flinders (SA) and Southern Cross (WA) sub-IBRAs fringing the rangeland boundary.

Rangeland wheat production had a gross value of $1.202bn in 2011 (Table 2).

In making these estimates, data concordance and resultant area, production and dollar values were restricted to sub-IBRAs with ≥1% of their area used for winter cereal production based on the 2005-06 land use map.

These estimates of area planted to wheat and associated production and value means that the rangeland margin, and particularly its eastern extent in NSW, is a significant contributor to Australia’s total wheat crop (Table 3). Based on the 2011 agricultural census, it was probable that these rangeland areas comprised up to 15% of the area sown to wheat and may have accounted for almost 18% of the gross value of the national wheat crop.

 

Table 2. Area, production and value of wheat in rangeland sub-IBRAs in 2011. Data sources: 2011 Agricultural Census and 2005-06 national land use mapping. Areas and production are rounded to the nearest 100 ha or tonnes respectively; value is rounded to the nearest $1,000.

 

Table 3. Rangeland and Australian wheat production estimated from the 2011 Agricultural Census.

Hay

In 2010-11, approximately 310,000 tonnes of hay was cut from almost 83,000 ha in the rangelands. This hay had an estimated gross value of $65.8m. The main hay producing bioregions (>10,000 t) were the NSW Riverina, Darling Riverine Plains and Cobar Peneplain, Queensland Mitchell Grass Downs and Gulf Plains, and the Mitchell Grass Downs and Daly Basin in the NT (see Figure 3 for further information).

Approximately half of the hay produced in the rangelands was cut from pasture (Figure 3).

Away from major ports and livestock handling centres, we anticipate that most hay would have been used locally to feed livestock during mustering and transport operations.

 

Figure 3. Rangeland hay production (including area cut) and value, by bioregion, in the rangelands in 2011. Line work shows IBRA boundaries, red polygons in the production map indicate where >50% of hay produced in the bioregion was cut from pasture.


Horticulture

Table grapes
Relatively small plantings and tonnages of table grapes are dispersed throughout the eastern, central and western rangelands (Figure 4). Much of this production is based on an early-season price premium into the major capital-city markets.

The gross value derived from different forms of grape production (wine, table grapes, dried fruits) is not disaggregated in the agricultural census. Thus we show the gross value of all grape production in the bottom map of Figure 4.

 

Figure 4. Area planted to, and production from, table grapes in rangeland bioregions in 2011 (upper and middle maps). The bottom map shows the gross value of all grape production in 2011.

 

All forms of grape production and associated value are focussed on two rangeland bioregions in two states: the Riverina and Murray Darling Depression in NSW and the Riverina in SA (Table 4). The majority of planted area and allied production in each bioregion is for wine production which suggests that production (and associated gross value) of grapes in the rangelands is over-stated. Most production in both bioregions is close to the Murray River and a much more detailed spatial analysis is required to more accurately apportion SLA-level statistics to these rangeland bioregions.

Gross value: vegetables and all fruit

Vegetables
Vegetables grown in the rangelands for human consumption in 2011 had a gross value of almost $420m (Table 5), although this value may have been over-estimated because of the difficulty in correctly apportioning production across the rangeland boundary for some Queensland and NSW IBRAs.

For bioregions entirely in the rangelands, vegetable production was centred around:

  • Within WA, the Carnarvon and Dampierland IBRAs (mainly surrounding Broome and Derby for the latter) and the Victoria Bonaparte IBRA (Kununurra area).
  • In the NT, the Daly Basin, Darwin Coastal, Sturt Plateau, Pine Creek, Mitchell Grass Downs and Davenport Murchison Ranges (Tennant Creek area) IBRAs.

On the eastern margin of the rangelands in Queensland:

  • Almost the entire value of vegetable production in the Brigalow Belt North IBRA derives from the Whitsunday (R) – Bowen SLA.
  • Similarly, most of the vegetable production in the Queensland Mulga Lands comes from the Balonne (S) SLA which extends east of the rangelands boundary.
  • The Tablelands (R) – Mareeba and Tablelands (R) – Herberton SLAs (both partly in the rangelands) contribute most of the production value in the Einasleigh Uplands with 12% of the value coming from the Charters Towers area (Charters Towers (R) – Dalrymple SLA) – i.e. this SLA entirely in the rangelands.

The major contributing rangeland bioregions for vegetable production in NSW were:

  • The Riverina IBRA where the Hay SLA lies within the rangelands and the Griffith, Carrathool, and Leeton SLAs straddle the rangeland boundary.
  • The NSW Murray Darling Depression IBRA with most of the production value coming from the Wentworth SLA with a smaller contribution from the Balranald SLA. Both SLAs extend to the Murray River (i.e. into the Riverina IBRA) and it may be that this IBRA is more important for vegetable production than the Murray Darling Depression.

Vegetable production in the SA part of the Riverina IBRA is centred on the Berri & Barmera (DC) – Barmera SLA (which is entirely in the rangelands) and the Loxton Waikerie (DC) – West SLA. Much of this latter SLA is south of the rangelands boundary: however, most of the reported vegetable production is probably located close to the Murray River (i.e. within the Riverina IBRA and thus within the rangelands).

Fruit excluding grapes
Fruit from the rangelands, excluding grapes, had an estimated gross value of almost $340m in 2011 (Table 5). Major contributing bioregions, by state, are shown in Figure 5. These IBRAs, with accompanying caveats, include:

  • Entirely within the rangelands
    1. The Carnarvon, Dampierland (Broome and Derby townships) and Victoria Bonaparte (Kununurra region) IBRAs in WA.
    2. The Top End of the NT with mango production as a probable important contributor (Daly Basin, Darwin Coastal, Pine Creek and Sturt Plateau IBRAs).
    3. Cape York Peninsular in northern Queensland.
  • Adjacent to the rangeland boundary in Queensland
    1. Most fruit value in the Einasleigh Uplands IBRA derives from the Tablelands (R) – Mareeba SLA.
    2. Further south, the Whitsunday (R) – Bowen SLA contributes most fruit value in the Brigalow Belt North IBRA.
  • Adjacent to the rangeland boundary in NSW
    1. The Leeton, Griffith, Carrathool, Murrumbidgee and Wakool SLAs are major contributors to the gross value of fruit (not grapes) in the Riverina IBRA. All SLAs extend into the non-rangelands and it may be that the gross value of fruit (excluding grapes) is over-stated for this rangeland IBRA.
    2. The Wentworth SLA is the dominant source of fruit (apart from grapes) in the rangelands part of the Murray Darling Depression.
    3. The Bourke SLA (in the rangelands) contributes approximately 20% of the gross value of fruit production (minus grapes) in the rangelands part of the Darling Riverine Plains IBRA. The Moree Plains and Narromine SLAs (both straddling the rangelands boundary) are other important contributing SLAs.

  

Table 4. Areas in rangeland bioregions planted to grapevines for wine production, table consumption or dried fruits. Bioregional production by category is also listed as is the total value of all forms of grape production. Table entries are restricted to bioregions with a gross value from all forms of grape production > $0.1m. 

a very low yields for the area planted. This may have been the case for each bioregion or low the low values for yield may have resulted from concordance errors.

 


Table 5. Estimated gross values of vegetables and fruit in rangeland bioregions based on the 2011 Agricultural Census. Values are rounded to the nearest $1,000.

 

 

 

 


Figure 5. Estimated gross values of vegetables and fruit in rangeland bioregions based on SLA-level data reported from the 2011 Agricultural Census.

 

All fruit (i.e. including grapes)
Gross value of all fruit production in the rangelands in 2011 was approximately $560m (Table 5). However, as per the preceding caveats (both grapes and fruit excluding grapes), the concorded values for IBRAs entirely within the rangelands have more confidence than those bordering the eastern and southern margins. In summary:

  • Fruit production in the WA rangelands in 2010-11 was centred on Carnarvon, Broome and Derby (both latter towns in the Dampierland IBRA) and Kununurra (the Victoria Bonaparte IBRA).
  • Several Top End bioregions in the NT were important sources of fruit (mainly mangoes): the Daly Basin, Darwin Coastal, Pine Creek and Sturt Plateau IBRAs. Table grapes grown in the Ti Tree area in the southern NT mean that the Burt Plain IBRA is also a significant source of fruit production.

Gross value of fruit may be overstated for the Brigalow Belt North and Einasleigh Uplands bioregions in rangeland Queensland with most production coming from the Whitsunday (R) – Bowen and Tablelands (R) – Mareeba SLAs respectively.

  • Estimated fruit values for the Cape York Peninsular and Mulga Land IBRAs in Queensland are more reliable. Table grapes are the major contributor in the Mulga Lands with production centred on the Paroo (S) SLA (entirely in the rangelands) and Balonne (S) SLA (extending beyond the rangeland boundary).
  • More detailed spatial analysis of SLA-level data is required to determine the true value of rangeland fruit production in the Riverina IBRA (both NSW and SA), and Murray Darling Depression and Darling Riverine Plains IBRAs in NSW.

Some concluding comments

The ACRIS Management Committee defined the rangelands in a conventional way: “those areas where the rainfall is too low or unreliable and the soils too poor to support regular cropping” (Bastin & ACRIS-MC 2008). The rangeland boundary was fixed according to the boundaries of previously mapped bioregions or sub-regions that met this criterion. Within this broad area (81% of Australia), there are some crops, fruit and vegetables grown. These areas of agricultural land use clearly aren’t rangelands, but provide patches of more intensive land use within the rangeland matrix. It is not sensible to exclude these areas from the rangelands; rather, ACRIS accepts non-pastoral agricultural production as part of the mix and seeks to document their importance using the same bioregional stratification used for reporting elements of biophysical change.

Broadacre cereal cropping (mainly wheat for grain) extends into the rangeland margin in south eastern Australia (Figure 2 and Table 2). The longer term extent and associated value of this cropping activity in this rangeland margin could be quite dynamic under continuing climate variability, projected climate change and inevitably fluctuating commodity prices. For the present, rangeland wheat production is important to the Australian economy with an estimated 16.7% of the national crop coming from this area in 2010-11.

Horticulture based on suitable soils and water resources (mainly local aquifers) is substantial in parts of the rangelands and is obviously important to those regional economies (Figures 4 and 5, Tables 4 and 5). We acknowledge uncertainty in accurately transferring commodity-level production and value from SLAs to corresponding IBRAs, particularly where an unknown portion of the data comes from the non-rangeland part of SLAs that straddle the rangelands boundary. This is particularly the case for high-value vegetable and fruit production in north east Queensland (the Bowen and Atherton Tablelands in particular) and adjacent to the Murray River in South Australia. More detailed spatial analysis may improve precision in estimating commodity-level production and value for rangeland IBRAs in these areas but this requires that ABS releases location-based data while maintaining the confidentiality of businesses surveyed and sampled. The ABS are developing a Statistical Spatial Framework for better delivery of statistical and geospatial information (in other words, watch this space). Information on this framework is available at:
http://www.nss.gov.au/nss/home.NSF/pages/Statistical%20Spatial%20Framework (accessed 15 September 2014).

In concluding, the process used to concord non-pastoral agricultural production and value from SLAs to rangeland IBRAs using area-based weights (factors) and associated rules can be applied to future census data to track their change. This is a straightforward approach where both regionalisations remain constant. As the identities and boundaries of either change, weights will need to be recalculated and adjusted according to a suitably revised rule set to transition from SLA-based reporting of agricultural statistics to the rangeland bioregions preferred by ACRIS.

Acknowledgements

We thank Ian Watson for encouraging this work within ACRIS and for his constructive comments on an earlier version of this article. Neil MacLeod’s advice subsequently improved a later version. The Australian Government provided funding for ACRIS while it operated. Ninti One Ltd administered this funding.

References

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/rangelands/australian-collaborative-rangelands-information-system-acris.

Ludwig, John A., Bastin, Gary N., Davies, Jocelyn and Eyre, Teresa J. (2014). Monitoring rangelands: a more integrated approach using biophysical and socio-economic indicators. Range Management Newsletter No. 14/2, 5-11.

 


 

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WORKSHOP ON GROUND-COVER MONITORING IN WESTERN NEW SOUTH WALES

Tony Gill, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box 1020, Dubbo NSW 2830

Gary Bastin, formerly CSIRO, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs NT 0871.  Email: gary-bastin@bigpond.com

Workshop overview

Consideration of ground cover is an important aspect of rangeland management. For example, maintaining good ground cover can reduce the risk of losing soil through wind and water erosion; a rapid decline in ground cover may indicate a need for a change in land management; and slow recovery of ground cover after good rainfall may indicate a non-resilient system, requiring management intervention.

A number of organisations, who are concerned with natural resource management in western NSW, met in Dubbo on July 29 to discuss the current state of techniques and methods for monitoring ground cover. This short article reports the objectives, discussions and outcomes of the workshop.

The workshop participants represented the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage; Western and Central West Local Land Services; Department of Primary Industries and Crown Lands (within the Department of Trade and Investment); and Gary Bastin, former ACRIS Coordinator.

The workshop had three objectives:

  1. to gain a better understanding of the ground-cover monitoring requirements of each agency;
  2. to explore the potential for a more consistent approach to monitoring ground cover among the agencies; and
  3. to provide an update on ground-cover products derived from remote sensing, and national activities related to the distribution and use of these products.

Workshop discussions

Background briefings were given followed by a general discussion of issues relevant to monitoring ground cover.  The topics covered in the briefings were:

  • an overview of current rangelands-wide activities of each organisation that relate to ground cover;
  • the role of the Rangelands Alliance and the developing NRM Spatial Hub;
  • research and development of ground cover products derived from Landsat and MODIS satellite imagery; and
  • examples of the use of remotely-sensed ground-cover data for reporting against catchment action plans by the Western LLS, in the DustWatch program, and for reporting the state of and change in the NSW rangelands between 1992 and 2013 during dry periods.
  • The following topics were identified as those that could be improved by including remote sensing:
  • setting and achieving appropriate ground-cover targets by land systems;
  • managing total grazing pressure;
  • determining when and where overstocking is occurring as seasonal conditions deteriorate;
  • identify ground-cover levels that may be trigger points for management intervention; and
  • providing timely advice to graziers.

The participants also identified additional areas for improvement:

  • the range of methods used in the field to estimate cover are difficult to compare (e.g. quadrat-based, step pointing, point intercept and the nationally endorsed method – see Muir et al 2011); and
  • graziers also have requirements for biomass and species composition information.

Workshop outcomes

Participants agreed that inter-agency communication of on-ground activities and the development and availability of satellite image products needed improvement. To address this, the group agreed to create a ground-cover working group with the overarching goal of improving capacity to monitor change in ground cover in western NSW for a range of applications.

Activities will include:

  • facilitating communication of information among members about satellite products, dust watch and field-based monitoring activities;
  • coordination of field training exercises;
  • where appropriate, shared activity in collecting and collating field data;
  • coordinated regional input to national activities such as the NRM Spatial Hub;
  • providing input into drought reporting/seasonal condition monitoring;
  • better coordinated inter-agency activity when working with particular landholders; and
  • collaborative validation for image products derived from remote sensing.

The group will shortly convene a ground-cover monitoring committee to progress these initiatives.

Further information

Landsat ground cover product description:   http://www.auscover.org.au/xwiki/bin/view/Product+pages/Landsat+Fractional+Cover

Landsat seasonal fractional cover mosaics for NSW:   http://data.auscover.org.au/xwiki/bin/view/Product+pages/Landsat+Seasonal+Fractional+Cover+NSW

MODIS ground cover:   http://data.auscover.org.au/xwiki/bin/view/Product+pages/Fractional+Cover+MODIS+CLW

MODIS monthly cover:   http://www.auscover.org.au/xwiki/bin/view/Product+pages/FC+Composites+MODIS+OEH

Dustwatch:   http://www.dustwatch.edu.au/

NRM spatial hub:  http://www.crcsi.com.au/Research/Commissioned-Research/NRM-Spatial-Information-Hub

NRM rangelands Alliance:   http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/aridlands/about-us/nrm-board/national-nrm-rangelands-alliance

Joint Remote Sensing Research Program:   http://www.gpem.uq.edu.au/jrsrp

Reference

Muir, J., Schmidt, M., Tindall, D., Trevithick, R., Scarth, P. And Stewart, J.B. (2011). Field measurement of fractional ground cover : a technical handbook supporting ground cover monitoring for Australia. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra. 

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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

Mohammed Abdelkreim - Khartoum, Sudan

Mick Brady - Mount Isa, Qld

Samuel Luccitti - Perth, WA

Tim Zwiersen - Roseworthy, SA

Jaime Manning - Camden, NSW

Gabriel Crowley - Atherton, Qld

Harriet Davie -  Fremantle, WA

Andrea Tschirner - Quorn, SA

Mary-Anne Clunies-Ross - Mt Magnet  WA

David Hancock - Whiteman, WA 

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2015 ARS MEMBERSHIP RATES

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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 2015

New members are encouraged to join the Society via the ARS website (www.austrangesoc.com.au) and renewing members should also pay their 2015 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 2015

The 2015 Subscription Rates remain as for 2014.  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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ARS CONTACTS 2014

ARS COUNCIL AND OTHER CONTACTS 2014

PRESIDENT
John Taylor
37 Pioneer Crescent
Bellbowrie QLD 4070
Ph: (07) 3202 7632
Mobile: 0429 725 838
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

FINANCE AND AUDIT OFFICER
Peter Marin
MLCS Corporate Pty Ltd
120 The Parade
Norwood SA 5067
PO Box 2691 
Kent Town SA 5071
Ph: (08) 8363 7755
Mobile: 0408 678 451
Email: peter@mlcscorporate.com.au

SECRETARY
Carolyn Ireland
Ireland Resource Management Pty Ltd
13 Woodland Close
Aldgate SA 5154
Ph: (08) 8320 9207
Mobile: 0400 309 207
Email: cireland@irmpl.com.au

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GENERAL MEMBERS

Graeme Tupper
PO Box 141
Orange NSW 2800
Ph: (02) 6361 7734
Email: grmtupper@yahoo.com.au

Annabel Walsh
Moorna Station
NSW 2648
Ph: (03) 5028 2250
Mobile: 0427 282 262
Email: annabelwalshmoorna@gmail.com

Kate Masters
PO Box 505
Mount Isa QLD 4825
Ph: 0422 276 040
Email: katemasters76@yahoo.com

Ben Forsyth
Three Rivers Station
Meekathara WA 6642
Ph: (08) 9981 2932
Mobile: 0427 551 114
Email: ben@beefwood.com.au

David Phelps
PO Box 519
Longreach, QLD 4730
Ph: (07) 4650 1244
Mobile: 0427 270 259
Email: David.Phelps@daff.qld.gov.au 
Email: david.gphelps@bigpond.com

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SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER
Graeme Tupper
PO Box 141
Orange NSW 2800
Ph: 02 6361 7734
Email: grmtupper@yahoo.com.au

PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ron Hacker
Ph: (02) 6882 0416
Mobile: 0419 488 318
Email: ron.hacker@crt.net.au

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF (The Rangeland Journal)
John Milne
The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen SCOTLAND
Email: johnmilne@aol.com

EDITOR – RMN
Noelene Duckett
5 Amery Street
Ashburton VIC 3147
Ph: (03) 9885 9026
Email: aduckett7@msn.com

EDITOR – ARS WEBSITE
Russell Grant
Western CMA
PO Box 307 Cobar NSW 2835
Ph: (02) 6836 1575

Email: russell.grant@cma.nsw.gov.au 

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