Rangelands NRM would like to thank all of the land managers that participated in the recent Edith Cowan University Study Tour of the Gascoyne. We value the engagement of the universities and students across the region as we all strive for solutions to land management challenges and a more sustainable future. To demonstrate the impact this type of engagement has on future researchers/policy makers/practitioners and leaders of natural resource management we have asked one of the students to share their experience.
Rangelands NRM would also like to thank ECU, Pierre and especially Kale for providing his thoughts.
Edith Cowan University Study Tour
by Kale Brooks
Recently 14 students from Edith Cowan University, including myself, participated in a 12 day study tour to the Gascoyne Rangelands encountering the many environmental, social, cultural and economic perspectives on sustainable natural resource management (SNRM). The tour started at the Hamelin Station reserve in Shark Bay where we were immediately faced with the importance of liaising with Malgana people, and confronted by fire regimes, regenerating landscapes hydrologically, looking more critically at roads, and how to spot grazing pressure and vegetation condition.
In Carnarvon we had the privilege of experiencing a welcome to country, and a walk to One Mile Jetty with Yingarrda elders, knowledge about land, culture and the environment, and acknowledging the atrocities that their ancestors faced at the lock hospitals; we all felt the heaviness and emotion of this. We heard about the prawn trawl fishery, a banana cooperative, horticulture on the Gascoyne delta, and management of water resources, and the environmental, social and economic consequences of a salt and gypsum mine. We were told how flooding, drought, cyclones and fire take their toll on all of these, to which we must adjust and adapt.
Station owners told us about the impacts of live export closure, droughts (again), and vegetation and stock management. Another theme of our study tour was carbon farming, and we noted that few people we spoke to in the Gascoyne were yet to take advantage of government initiatives to build that economy, and why. We considered the management of the marine environment from Coral Bay to Red Bluff and the proposed extension of Coastal reserves on what is now unallocated crown land. Some perspectives focused on an integrated approach and techniques to protect nesting turtles from ferals.
We met government representatives, entrepreneurs, experienced current and former station owners, other resource managers, and locals, and covered topics from the sustainable management of goats to solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. We were astounded at the enormity of the wild dog issue in the Rangelands, especially the financial and social costs, contrasted by the possible benefits of having a high level predator on the land.
And the stromatolites at sunset, starry skies, red sands, rock formations, the experience of tranquil coastal landscapes with contrasting turquoise waters and pristine white sand, were stunning. The serenity and harshness of the Kennedy Ranges, once an ocean basin where fossil remnants are visible today, also left lasting impressions.
Most of us were unfamiliar with these settings and perspectives, so prior to undertaking the tour we were fairly naïve of the NRM issues facing regional WA. The study tour to the Gascoyne was insightful, educational and constructive, invaluable for us to get firsthand experience of the multiple perspectives needed for Sustainable NRM.
[Photo: Pierre Horwitz]