Identifying and addressing sustainable pasture and grazing management options for a major economic sector – the north Australian beef industry

Neil D. MacLeod, Joe C. Scanlan, Lester I. Pahl, Giselle L. Whish, Robyn A. Cowley


Sustainable use of Australia’s northern grazing lands is a long-standing issue for management and policy, heightened by projections of increased climatic variability, uncertainty of forage supplies, vegetation complexes and weeds and diseases. Meat & Livestock Australia has supported a large study to explore sustainable grazing management strategies and increase the capacity of the sector to address climate change. Potential options were explored by bio-economic modeling of ‘representative’ beef enterprises defined by pastoralists and supported by regional research and extension specialists. Typical options include diversification, infrastructure, flexible stocking rates, wet season resting and prescribed fire. Concurrent activities by another team included regional impact assessments and surveys of pastoralists’ understanding of and attitudes towards climate change and adaptive capacity. The results have been widely canvassed and a program of on-ground demonstrations of various options implemented. The paper describes the structure of this program and highlights key results indicating considerable scope to address sustainability challenges.

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