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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Leader of The Nationals in the Senate
Senator the Hon. Ron Boswell

7 May 2006

Research for greenhouse and biodiversity impacts of dense mulga regrowth


The Australian Government will fund research into the impacts of dense mulga regrowth that has occurred because of changing fire patterns and vegetation clearance controls in Queensland.

Visiting the rangelands of western Queensland this week, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, saw many examples of stations affected by significant mulga regrowth.

The Senators saw first hand that these rangeland environments are complex systems, particularly where climate events - such as the recent record drought - interact with plant growth, grazing and human management.

"While vegetation clearance controls mean to some that the rangelands will stay the same, such a view overlooks the dynamic nature of the land systems where cyclical change is an on-going landscape phenomena," Senator Campbell said.

"Changed fire patterns, for example, have contributed to mulga regrowth to such an extent that stock grazing is now very difficult in some areas, taking increasing areas of stations out of grazing production."

Senator Boswell said there is a poor understanding of the broader social and economic impacts of these vegetation changes and its impact on pastoralists.

"Understanding these changes and their impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and native biodiversity requires active research so we can get the management of these landscapes right," Senator Boswell said.

Senator Campbell announced the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust would fund a project that will assess the biodiversity and greenhouse impacts of mulga regrowth associated with varying fire and grazing regimes, and the benefits and costs of mulga harvesting and regeneration.

He said the research would also be linked to economic analysis of agricultural production, and would use models to test and refine understanding of greenhouse gas impacts.

Senator Campbell said the integrated study could provide a three-way win for the management of mulga grazing lands - improved biodiversity outcomes, better understanding of associated greenhouse impacts, and improved sustainable production.

Welcoming the initiative, Senator Boswell said Agforce and the Shire of Quilpie would be invited to partner the research and assist in field trials if required. He said the engagement of these key organisations in western Queensland will be important to the success of the project.

Media contacts:
Marianne McCabe (Minister Campbell) 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580
Leah Nicoll (Senator Boswell) 0407 132 284

Commonwealth of Australia