Natural resource management in Australia: a historical summary

Tennent, Rebeka, and Lockie, Stewart (2015) Natural resource management in Australia: a historical summary. In: Hogan, Anthony, and Young, Michelle, (eds.) Rural and Regional Futures. Routledge, Oxon, UK, pp. 71-83.

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[Extract] With agriculture occupying more than 60 per cent of the Australian landmass (Beeton et al. 2006), and the nation one of just 17 megadiverse countries that together harbour the majority of the Earth's species, a key challenge for policymakers lies in establishing an appropriate balance between protection of natural resources and the maintenance of viable agricultural industries. In excess of A$6.5 billion in public funding consequently was directed at natural resource management (NRM) between 1990 and 2008 (Hajkowicz 2009), and a further A$2 billion up to 2013 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008). Historically, NRM policy has tended to preserve individual property rights, achieved to a varying extent through diverse and often competing policy approaches, and coupled with a coordinating (arm's length) role for government. However, the underlying assumption - that well-informed land managers will deliver favourable environmental outcomes - belies the pressure on land managers to innovate and intensify production in the face of declining terms of trade and the deregulation of marketing arrangements for agricultural commodities. Financial constraints have slowly eroded opportunities to manage land degradation, while the nature of Australian soils puts them at particular risk of degradation (Watson 1992). More recent policy initiatives conceptualise and respond to environmental degradation as a form of market failure. The Commonwealth government, in partnership with the states and territories, has moved towards a business approach for investing in NRM, using market based instruments (MBIs) and stewardship payments to landholders to incentivise delivery of favourable environmental outcomes. The use of these instruments is premised on the argument that, as a form of market failure, environmental degradation should be resolved through market means. The outcomes of this programme logic, and the wider implementing programme, Caring for Our Country (CFOC), are yet to be comprehensively assessed. Nonetheless, a recent review found cautious support for the ability of CFOC to deliver targeted, economically efficient NRM deliverables (Caring for Our Country Review Team 201 1). As well, concerns were raised about the reduction in guaranteed base level funding available to regional bodies, whose key goal is to deliver tangible NRM outcomes. This chapter examines the history of NRM policy in Australia. While the focus is on policies and programmes from World War II onwards, initiatives predating this period Provide relevant context for today's policies and will be briefly described.

Item ID: 35504
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-138-02507-3
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 00:53
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960504 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments @ 100%
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