Our Future Plan

Condition

Land and Soils

What is the current condition of the region’s landscapes? 

The 2004 NRM Plan contained a detailed summary of the condition and trend of land assets at that time. Since 2004, more specific analysis has occurred and main landforms types have been dissected into geomorphic landscapes, and these landscapes have been more precisely described and characterised. A summary of this characterisation is presented in the table below– Landscape Characterisation. This table should be read in conjunction with the geomorphic landscapes map.

 

Landscape Characterisation  (Macdonald 2015)

table 7 atable 7 btable 7 ctable 7 dtable 7 ftable 7 g

 

Since 2004, substantial progress has been made in terms of land use change and practice adoption. Landholders have worked with QMDC to improve land and soil condition over near 1 million hectares, pastures have been established on near 20,000 hectares, soil conservation have been implemented on near 20,000 hectares and so on. Despite these and other achievements, land condition decline is still evident on large tracts of the remaining 7 million areas untreated. In addition, the severity of seasonal change resulting in natural disasters such as floods and drought is having a significant debilitating effect on land condition. As the impacts of climate change increase the seasonal variability and heighten climatic extremes, decision-making associated with land use selection and land management practice will need to be increasingly adaptive to arrest land condition decline.

 

Land condition and trend has declined and continues to decline in areas that are being managed without informed consideration of landscape and ecological risk. A summary of the main risks and threats of the main geomorphic landscapes is presented in the table below – Landscape Risks and Threats.

Landscape Risks and Threats (MacDonald 2015)

table 8 aTable 8 btable 8ctable 8 dtable 8etable 8f

 

The ability of landscapes to reverse a declining condition trend of soils and pastures is low for a quick reversal, but achievable in the long term. Secondly, the channelled nature of community and industry knowledge of landscape level risk factors and the low to moderate capacity of industry to change to address these risk factors form the immediate social challenge. Thirdly, the need for structural land use change in more marginal and constrained landscapes will also challenge current institutional arrangements and structures. All of these factors influence condition and trend.

 

An over-riding constraint to arresting land condition decline is the inability of landholders to fund improvements and/or changes. The current financial and business situation for many landholders in the region is characterised as:

  • current debt levels are historically high and equity low,
  • cost structures are high, and
  • profitability levels are low, declining or negative.

 

This characterisation of business outlook combined with the ever increasingly severe seasonal climatic fluctuation, indicate that condition reversal will be difficult and that some structural adjustment of rural industries and communities is likely. Strategies that aim to improve landscape condition and reverse degrading trends will need to be cognisant of existing financial position and emerging negative social consequences.

 

Resource industries are providing some alternative income to some financially struggling sectors. The extent and longevity of this support is unknown. Planning for this NRM has not relied on long term substantial contribution. The current financial benefits are recognised. The long environmental benefits and/or are also recognised, but are unknown.  In terms of measuring and monitoring land condition, recognised applications such as StockTake® (Alexander and Paton 2009) and paddock scale photo points have been undertaken to obtain an understanding of trend. In addition, collaboration with departmental projects on measuring and analysing soil carbon trends across many representative land types have provided a benchmark for assessing land condition.

 


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