Landscape literacy improved for rangeland land managers

[Jan-Feb 2017)

Land managers across the southern rangelands had the opportunity recently to increase their landscape reading skill development through a series of two-day workshops.

Held from 2-10 December 2016, and supported by Rangelands NRM through funding from the National Landcare Programme, three workshops were run at Edah Station (Yalgoo), Hamelin Station (Shark Bay) and Mt Augustus Station (Upper Gascoyne), attracting 42 participants representing 23 stations.

The workshops were run by Dr Hugh Pringle, international expert in Landscape Ecology and specifically rangelands rehydration.

Rangelands NRM’s Regional Landcare Facilitator Kane Watson said the workshops provided increased landscape literacy and encouraged the use of collaborative solutions.

“Through the guidance of Dr Hugh Pringle, participants were able to increase their knowledge of landscape function and gain skills for addressing erosion control and the application of diverse rehydration techniques,” Mr Watson said.

“This was achieved by the groups owning the initiative and using the existing assessment of the host's property to collaboratively decide remediation approaches.”

Dr Pringle used examples from his work in other regions such as South Australia and Namibia.

The first half day provided the base knowledge office session with presentation, videos and host property map assessment. 

The rest of the time was out in the field looking over sites and discussing the water source, possible water acceleration issues, water damage at the sites and remediation priorities and techniques. 

“The groups were guided through site specific problems with the discussion being led by the participants through contributory topics such as catchment function, historical over grazing, total grazing pressure, pasture management, roads and infrastructure,” Mr Watson said.

Jo Cluws from Melangata Station attended the Edah workshop: “This has been absolutely enlightening—I’m taking away so much valuable information that is going to help me with my property,” she said. 

Jamie Anderson, Wahroonga Station while at the Hamelin Station session said: “Hugh has provided a different aspect for looking at the country.”

It is always great to see what other people are doing and what they are thinking for their landscape,” Cheela Plains owner Evan Pansini said while at Mt Augustus. “It’s been good sharing information and getting like-minded people together.” ……… “regeneration techniques and stock control intermarried with your grazing management all go together in a holistic approach.”

Mr Watson said by improving land manager knowledge and understanding of the systems around them, pastoralists are better equipped to address the issues and provide sustainable remediation. 

“By making improvements to landscape function through sharing lessons and undertaking simple techniques, rehydration will provide opportunity for improved pasture and therefore improve the sustainability of pastoral enterprises.”

(L) Hugh Pringle (centre, pointing) on Mt Augustus group discussing suspension filter placement filters as a tool to slow the water higher in the landscape before it hits the high grazing value flood out plains,  (K.Watson) 
(R) Assessing aerial photography of creek systems leading into Mt Augustus crab hole county, discussion on control points and intervention techniques (K.Watson)