Australian rangelands conference

on 27 Apr 2015 

Last week a group of Bush Heritage staff attended the 18th Biennial Conference of the Australian Rangelands Society in Alice Springs. The society is an independent and non-aligned association of people interested in the management and sustainable use of resources in the rangelands.

Rangelands are broadly defined, cover about 75% of Australia's land mass and include drylands and wetlands or any other environment where natural ecological processes predominate in land use.

Typically, rangeland businesses harvest plant or animal production, mine resources, provide recreation or manage biodiversity. 

The theme for this year's conference was ‘Innovation in the Rangelands’ and there were over 300 delegates attending with representation from primary producers, state and federal governments, non-government organisations, scientists and indigenous groups. 

Presentations and posters were on a range of topics including

  • pastoral management,
  • water sharing,
  • communication,
  • adaptation and resilience,
  • mining and energy and
  • natural resource management.

Bush Heritage were lucky enough to get a stall, sharing with our partners Arid Recovery. Our booth was busy and generated a great deal of interest.

In the last session ‘Radicalising the rangelands: disruptive change or progressive policy?’ Fred Chaney observed that while there’s a lot of good people out there doing great work, these groups are disparate and need a framework to hold them up – a single entity to broker the research for the outback. For a healthy future, the Rangelands need to take the initiative and take a global innovation market view.  There are similar challenges globally.

In the summation and close, delivered with great humour by Dr Andrew Ash and Kate Forrest, the conference's main themes included:

  • partnerships;
  • research;
  • attitudes and adaptive capacity (how to reach the other 96%);
  • coping with variability;
  • monitoring;
  • diversification;
  • transformative change (visionary leadership and some serendipity); and lastly, and most importantly,
  • learning, laughter and celebration.

It was a great week.