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Collard S.J.,GPO Box 1671 | Fisher A.M.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Mckenna D.J.,Khan Research Laboratories
Ecological Management and Restoration

In the fragmented agricultural landscapes of temperate southern Australia, broad-scale revegetation is underway to address multiple natural resource management issues. In particular, commercially-driven fodder shrub plantings are increasingly being established on non-saline land to fill the summer-autumn feed gap in grazing systems. Little is known of the contribution that these and other planted woody perennial systems make to biodiversity conservation in multifunctional landscapes. In order to address this knowledge gap, a study was conducted in the southern Murray Mallee region of South Australia. Selected ecological indicators, including plant and bird communities, were sampled in spring 2008 and autumn 2009 in five planted saltbush sites and nearby areas of remnant vegetation and improved pasture. In general, remnant vegetation sites had higher biodiversity values than saltbush and pasture sites. Saltbush sites contained a diverse range of plants and birds, including a number of threatened bird species not found in adjacent pasture sites. Plant and bird communities showed significant variation across saltbush, pasture and remnant treatments and significant differences between seasons. This study demonstrates that saltbush plantings can provide at least partial habitat for some native biota within a highly modified agricultural landscape. Further research is being conducted on the way in which biota, such as birds, use available resources in these dynamic ecosystems. An examination of the effects of grazing on biodiversity in saltbush would improve the ability of landholders and regional natural resource management agencies in making informed land management decisions. © 2011 Ecological Society of Australia. Source

Byrne M.,Department of Environment and Conservation Perth | Byrne M.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Stone L.,Department of Environment and Conservation Perth | Stone L.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology

1. Revegetation can provide major environmental benefits in degraded landscapes, but there is also potential for negative impacts from genetic change in local native populations. Broad areas of revegetation may provide a large source of foreign genes in landscapes where small remnant native populations act as a sink. Genetic change from hybridisation can threaten population persistence and contribute to species extinction through genetic assimilation or demographic swamping. 2. Implementation of revegetation within a risk management framework allows identification of risk factors, analysis and evaluation of risk to inform decision-making and management to minimise and mitigate the risk. Informed analysis and evaluation of genetic risk is important in revegetation because it will be difficult to control or reverse the impacts in natural ecosystems and they are often not expressed until the second generation or later. 3.A risk assessment protocol is presented based on evaluation of factors that influence the likelihood and consequences of adverse genetic change from revegetation arising through pollen dispersal. 4. The assessment is applicable to a broad range of revegetation activities and contributes to the development of informed decision-making processes in implementation of revegetation systems and land use practices that protect and enhance biodiversity in degraded landscapes. 5. Synthesis and applications. Implementation of revegetation programmes within a risk management framework will help to ensure that significant environmental benefits are captured with minimal concomitant negative impacts on the surrounding biodiversity. A genetic risk protocol provides a tool for evaluation of potential adverse genetic impacts on native populations from revegetation and can be implemented in conjunction with weed risk assessment. Risk assessment as an integral part of evaluation of environmental impact for large-scale revegetation programmes will contribute to the development of informed decision-making processes in the implementation of revegetation systems, and ultimately, it will aid in the development of land uses that protect and enhance biodiversity in degraded landscapes. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society. Source

Earl G.,Charles Sturt University | Earl G.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Curtis A.,Charles Sturt University | Allan C.,Charles Sturt University | And 2 more authors.
Australasian Journal of Environmental Management

Biodiversity in Australia continues to decline despite substantial government efforts to promote conservation. A statutory duty of care for biodiversity could promote positive outcomes and complement existing regulatory and voluntary approaches. Interest in a duty of care has been persistent, but progress elusive. Two inter-related issues around the social acceptability of a statutory duty of care are impeding progress: (a) the absence of a practical framework to facilitate its implementation, and (b) concerns about the acceptability of a legal instrument to landholders. In this paper, we present research that, for the first time in Australia, addresses the social acceptability of a duty of care for biodiversity, drawing on data from surveys in two Victorian regions. Our findings suggest that there is broad acceptance of 'duty of care' as an abstract concept, but diminished support for its detailed implications. Farmers, in particular, are concerned about the potential for wider community input, the prospect of a legally defined instrument, and the use of industry standards as a surrogate measure for compliance with a duty of care. These findings suggest that efforts to introduce a statutory duty of care need to engage farmers closely. Source

Revell D.K.,CSIRO | Revell D.K.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Revell D.K.,University of Western Australia | Norman H.C.,CSIRO | And 13 more authors.
Animal Production Science

Australian native perennial shrubs that are adapted to drought and infertile soils contribute nutrients to grazing systems that would otherwise support limited ruminant productivity. In this study, we report the nutritive value of 39 Australian shrub species of the genera Atriplex, Rhagodia, Maireana, Chenopodium, Enchylaena, Acacia, Eremophila, and Kennedia. Edible foliage was sampled in winter and summer, and there was little difference in nutritive value between seasons. The in vitro organic matter digestibility of most shrub species was 40-70%. Most species contained medium to high levels of crude protein (12-22% of dry matter, DM) and high concentrations of sulfur (2-8 g/kg DM). In an 8-week grazing experiment in which Merino wethers grazed a 'shrub system' containing four shrub species and a sown inter-row of annual pasture, the sheep gained weight during autumn without supplementary feeding. By comparison, sheep fed senesced volunteer pasture and supplementary cereal grain only maintained weight. The forage shrubs provided up to 50% of the total DM intake of sheep grazing the 'shrub system' and made a modest contribution to the digestible energy intake of the animals and a large contribution to their crude protein and mineral intake. Considering the timely and predictable provision of limiting nutrients and benefits such as gut health and the provision of shade and shelter, we suggest that Australian shrub species can make a valuable addition to the feed base of low- to medium-rainfall zones in southern Australia. © CSIRO 2013. Source

Earl G.,Charles Sturt University | Earl G.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Curtis A.,Charles Sturt University | Curtis A.,Future Farm Industries Co Operative Research Center | Allan C.,Charles Sturt University
Environmental Management

The decline in biodiversity is a worldwide phenomenon, with current rates of species extinction more dramatic than any previously recorded. Habitat loss has been identified as the major cause of biodiversity decline. In this article we suggest that a statutory duty of care would complement the current mix of policy options for biodiversity conservation. Obstacles hindering the introduction of a statutory duty of care include linguistic ambiguity about the terms 'duty of care' and 'stewardship' and how they are applied in a natural resource management context, and the absence of a mechanism to guide its implementation. Drawing on international literature and key informant interviews we have articulated characteristics of duty of care to reduce linguistic ambiguity, and developed a framework for implementing a duty of care for biodiversity at the regional scale. The framework draws on key elements of the common law 'duty of care', the concepts of 'taking reasonable care' and 'avoiding foreseeable harm', in its logic. Core elements of the framework include desired outcomes for biodiversity, supported by current recommended practices. The focus on outcomes provides opportunities for the development of innovative management practices. The framework incorporates multiple pathways for the redress of non-compliance including tiered negative sanctions, and positive measures to encourage compliance. Importantly, the framework addresses the need for change and adaptation that is a necessary part of biodiversity management. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

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