Conservation Alliance Calls For Greater Options For Outback Leaseholders
Sep 04, 2015 9:22 AM
Greater options for investment in enterprises and activities that sustain the nature and people of Outback WA must be the goal of the government’s new, independent Rangelands Advisory Board, an alliance of conservation groups said today.
The alliance – Partnership for the Outback – of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bush Heritage Australia, Conservation Council of WA and Wildflower Society of WA is urging the government to provide greater choice for people managing the state’s Outback landscapes.
David Mackenzie from the Pew Charitable Trusts said the creation of a Rangelands Advisory Board is an encouraging sign that the government is taking seriously the needs of a diverse range of people in the Outback, as well as the needs of the land.
“The government’s promised reforms of the leasehold system must lead to creation of a modern Outback that values the state’s natural heritage and sustains the people that care for it, including traditional owners,” Mr Mackenzie said.
“There are already great success stories, such as world-leading Indigenous ranger programs and the tourism initiatives of Wooleen Station and other station stays which are breathing new life into degraded landscapes and a fragile rural economy.”
Creating a level playing field for options for leaseholders is a necessary first step, Mr Mackenzie said.
“What is clear is that sustainable pastoralism will be a vital part of the mix, and there are other options that leaseholders have been calling for, such as tourism enterprises, stewardship programs, Indigenous ranger programs and other business diversification initiatives.”
Science research commissioned by Pew has established that many parts of WA’s rangelands need more people, not fewer, to manage the landscape to keep it healthy. The peer-reviewed study can be read here.
“Uncontrolled fires, feral animals and noxious weeds can only be controlled and even eliminated if hands-on land management by people occurs,” Mr Mackenzie said. “On top of that, we are now aware through our research, and that of other scientists, that many native plant and animals species are actually dependent on people managing the land for their survival - species such as the bilby.
“Unless government now delivers on real reform, many leaseholders will remain between a rock and hard place – choose between financial and family hardships or run down the lease over the longer term.”
Suzannah Macbeth: 0409 079 507
Paul Sheridan: 0410 516 656
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WA Outback Campaign
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