Category: Recent Activities

Biodiversity Offsetting Recommendations: Endangered Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland

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By , May 28, 2010 4:23 pm
Australian Wildlife Services have recently been involved in providing sound revegetation and rehabilitation recommendations to offset disturbance of endangered Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland in the Googong Foreshores area (ACT/NSW). Rehabilitation and revegetation was to occur in an adjacent poor condition, cleared woodland area to the disturbance. There were three main limiting factors to successful development of good condition box woodland identified by AWS: overgrazing by eastern grey kangaroos, widespread occurrence of weed species including many noxious species, and the likelihood that soil seed stocks of native species were degraded. In order to allow the successful offset and development of good condition Grassy Yellow Box Red Gum Woodland, a scope of works was provided. Management actions recommended included construction of a kangaroo deterrent fence, a targeted and robust weed control program and direct seeding of target tree, shrub and ground cover species. Works are to be commenced later in 2010.

Indigenous wildlife management – scientific research support

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By , May 20, 2010 11:34 am
In an opinion piece in the Journal Wildlife Research published in May 2010 AWS outlines how science could play a greater role in ensuring that Indigenous wildlife harvesting is sustainable. The paper discusses the role of Indigenous wildlife use in helping to address community health and employment challenges facing Indigenous Australians in remote and rural areas. An abstract is available on the CSIRO website at   The full paper is available from our downloads - Indigenous wildlife management in Australia to enable sustainable use (519 downloads) We are anticipate that the paper will lead to positive outcomes for Indigenous wildlife managers and a re-distribution of investments to what we hear Indigenous people saying is a high priority.

Camels and Greenhouse Gases

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By , February 8, 2010 10:21 am
A story on the front page of  The Australian on 8 February referred to AWS. It discusses methane emissions from camels and cars and follows a request by John Cobb MP to the Parliamentary Library to do an estimate. The Australian journalist sought comment from Sen Wong's office and was presented with a much lower figure.  The journalist then asked AWS  for an independent estimate. AWS makes the point that the issue is much more complicated than a simple comparison of cars and camels and that calculations contain many doubtful assumptions, including extrapolating the diet of domestic camels to wild camels.  Advocates of  ‘direct action’ using greenhouse gas reduction as a justification, need to consider the emissions produced by control. (This may be where the discrepancy between Sen Wong's office and the Library comes in) Detailed planning and consideration has been under way for some time in regard to the camel management. Advocates of ‘direct action’ need, at the very least to consider
  • dialogue and agreement with landholders, noting that most of the camels are on Aboriginal land
  • a long-term strategy that would address the return of camels which will result from an inability to remove them all
  • the ecological consequences of leaving large numbers of carcasses in the landscape - assuming direct action means helicopter gunships
  • the presentational problems which aerial shooting presents – (even though it can be done relatively humanely)
  • a market based solution, for example subsidised camel capture, mobile abattoirs, including  through Indigenous owned businesses?
In addition more research is needed on GHG gas emissions from animals not under the Kyoto protocol. DAFF and MLA are spending $28m on projects to make cattle more like kangaroos, including introducing kangaroo gut microorganisms into cattle. A modest investment in kangaroos (and camels) would seem to be a complementary investment worth the risk.

Methane emissions from animals

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By , January 14, 2010 12:13 pm
An article in The Australian recently revisted AWS  interest in the potential of kangaroos as producers of low emission meat compart to other species. It contained a table with an incorrect legend that had been inserted by a sub-editor.  The correct table and legend follows:

Emissions from animals

Animal No. Animals 1999 Enteric methane (CH4 Gg/yr) Enteric methane (CO2e Gg/yr) Enteric methane/head (CO2e tonnes/animal/yr)
1999 Data from Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Only domesticated animals counted, average of State values
Dairy cattle 3141200 339.74 7134.54 2.27
Beef - pasture 23291900 1739.90 36537.90 1.57
Beef - feedlot 558100 41.69 875.49 1.57
Buffalo 8600 0.47 9.87 1.15
Sheep 116800400 773.08 16234.68 0.14
Goats 201700 1.01 21.21 0.11
Cattle and Llamas 1500 0.07 1.47 0.98
Horses 220300 3.96 83.16 0.38
Donkeys/mules 200 0.00 0.00 0.00
Pigs 2626600 2.88 60.48 0.02
Poultry 88694800 0.00 0.00 0.00
Deer 3200 0.03 0.63 0.20
Ostriches/emus 147900 1.58 33.18 0.22
Other 126700 0.63 13.23 0.10
2005 Data from National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Only domesticated animals were counted, average of State values
Dairy cattle 3058554 347.73 7302.26 2.39
Beef 23224139 1847.23 38791.80 1.67
Beef - feedlot 1318089 101.61 2133.86 1.62
Sheep 101124878 681.45 14310.48 0.14
Goats 461491 2.31 48.46 0.11
Horses 221043 3.98 83.55 0.38
Deer 59469 0.64 13.36 0.22
Buffalo 6207 0.34 7.17 1.16
Donkeys/Mules 289 0.00 0.06 0.21
Emus/Ostriches 73788 0.37 7.75 0.11
Alpacas 2066 0.02 0.43 0.21
Camels 1846 0.08 1.78 0.97
Poultry 78187040 0.00 0.00 0.00
Pigs 2537859 3.69 77.43 0.03
Kangaroos 34000000[1] 0.003[2]

[1] The average number of kangaroos from 2001 to 2006) in the selected commercial kangaroo harvest area (Department of the Environment 2007). [2] Kempton, T.J., Murray R.M., Leng R.A. (1976) Methane production and digestibility measurements in the grey kangaroos and sheep. Aust J Biol Sci 29, 209–214.

Kangaroo farming and the carbon economy

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By , January 11, 2010 5:05 pm
AWS is working with a Kangaroo Management Cooperative of pastoralists and kangaroo harvesters in central Queensland.  We are examining if lower dependence on cattle as meat producers can reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Lowering total grazing pressure will also reduce water consumption and can drought proof properties. Ruminant livestock produce the GHG methane and so contribute to global warming and biodiversity reduction. Methane from the foregut of cattle and sheep constitutes 11% of Australia’s total GHG. Kangaroos, on the other hand, are non-ruminant forestomach fermenters that produce negligible amounts of methane. AWS is considering offsets generated from emissions sources in Australia not counted toward Australia’s Kyoto Protocol target, where they meet eligibility criteria and use a methodology that has been approved under the National Carbon Offset Standard. The Standard is intended to ensure that consumers have confidence in the voluntary carbon offset market and the integrity of the carbon offset and carbon neutral products they purchase. Income from carbon offsetting such emissions has the potential to improve financial viability of pastoral enterprises and ensure greater resilience in face of recurring droughts. It could establish alternative income streams. Plant growth of both trees, shrubs and native C4 grasses once lower stocking rates are established will sequester carbon in forest, rangeland vegetation and soil. Reducing grazing pressure will lead to reduced soil degradation, an increase in water quality and an increase in habitats and wildlife corridors. Biodiversity will increase, both in species abundance and the number of individuals in populations, particularly in highly important riparian environments. AWS has prepared a Project Information Note as part of our analysis and development of the offset project for presentation to the carbon market.  Our objective is a robust and transparent audit model that provides confidence. Independent audit validates the eligibility and robustness of offset project methodologies, and the amount of emissions reductions offset projects achieve. More details on kangaroos, cattle and opportunities are also in the AWS paper on our publications page.

Estimating rates of logging using landsat and gis technology

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By , December 11, 2009 3:38 pm
In November 2009, AWS was commissioned to remotely assess logging rates of an area under a selective logging regime. By extrapolating the rate of logging to an intact adjacent rainforest estimations of potential carbon savings which would accrue from altered forest management that prevents logging may be possible. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyse remotely sensed data (Landsat ETM), logging disturbance was detected. Data from six Landsat ETM images (1989-2009) and Forest Inventory Mapping (FIM) were used to calculate the logging rate of the merchantable forest. Applying the Reference Area rate of logging to the Project Area, we estimated the potential forest disturbance due to logging in the Project Area. GIS analysis of remotely sensed data was found to be an appropriate method for detecting forest canopy change and disturbance. Landsat ETM images with low cloud cover were adequate to discern change through time. Nevertheless there were significant methodological constraints and assumptions that introduce errors in the assessment, but they were made conservatively and therefore are likely to lead to underestimates rather than overestimates.

Science and Research for Northern Australia Development

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By , December 11, 2009 3:06 pm
AWS Director George Wilson and Graham Webb of Wildlife Management International Pty Ltd led a working group that prepared a paper on Science and Research for northern Australia. The paper was prepared as input to the Australia 21 Project on the Future Development of Northern Australia. The need for the paper came out of high level dialogue convened by Australia 21 in April 09, when 37 experts from industry, government, and academia, both from the North and the South and from the three jurisdictions that administer the North, met to explore the principles that should guide future development of the North in the interest of all Australians. The group endorsed 6 principles it believed should guide future development of the North and could underpin a coordinated new strategy for development of the North. The paper explores the fourth of these principles, that “planning and management for Northern development should be well informed by science and research and by an inventory of what is valuable with respect to the natural resources of Northern Australia”. The paper was submitted to the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce call for submissions in September 2009. The Taskforce is considering the broad range of sustainable development opportunities for northern Australia that are based on water resource availability. It is also considering the potential impact of such development on the underlying water balance and water quality, and on the natural environment, existing water users and the broader community. Australia 21 paper

Declaration of Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area

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By , July 29, 2009 5:33 pm

Angas Downs is an Indigenous owned 3,200 sq km pastoral lease, located 300km SW of Alice Springs, NT and 135km from Uluru National Park (Ayers Rock) The Traditional Owners of Angas Downs agreed to voluntarily declare the property an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). The official declaration occurred on Wednesday, 10 June 2009. A press release was issued by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Indigenous Health.[Not a valid template]

The Plan of Management for the Angas Downs IPA was prepared by the members of the community with support from Australian Wildlife Services. It draws on traditional land management practices and sets out priorities for scientists and wildlife managers to work with Indigenous owners. AWS continues to provide scientific support. Copies are available on our Publications page The Imanpa Development Association Inc acknowledges the Australian Government Indigenous Protected Areas element of the Caring for our Country initiative delivered through the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Indigenous Rangers on Angas Downs are working with scientific support from AWS and funding from the Caring for our Country program to restore and better manage the property.

Adaptive Environmental Management

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By , July 25, 2009 2:24 pm
B_SPR410_Allan (1) PB.inddAWS has contributed two chapters to a book on Adaptive Environmental Management published by Springer and CSIRO.   Conceptually, adaptive management is learning from past management actions to improve future planning and management. However it has proved difficult to achieve in practice.With a view to better practice, the book presents lessons learned from case studies and provides managers with relevant information. Cases studies are drawn from management of protected areas, watersheds and farms, rivers, forests, biodiversity and pests. The AWS contributions describe 1. Indigenous Adaptive management and 2. Adaptive management through Environment Management Systems in Agriculture. Summaries of chapters follow. See also link to download from Springer

Kuka Kanyini, Australian Indigenous Adaptive Management

In some of the remotest regions of central Australia, Anangu Pitjantjatjara are better managing their land and wildlife resources using adaptive management plans. The plans are based on Kuka Kanyini, which means looking after game animals. Kuka Kanyini draws on traditional land management practices and sets out priorities for scientists to work with Indigenous communities to help them manage their lands themselves. Using these plans as a basis, in this chapter we present a Regional Wildlife Adaptive Management Plan template, RWAMP that can be used to guide other Indigenous communities through an adaptive management planning process. To show how the plan works in practice, we review the progress against Angas Downs' adaptive management plan as a case study. The RWAMP plan describes strategies and actions that could be used in a ‘predict, do, learn, describe’ Adaptive Management (AM) cycle. The plan contains science-based proactive wildlife management and supports Indigenous law and culture, and the desire to care for the land. It also helps conserve biodiversity and generate new enterprises such as sales of bushtucker and tourism. Importantly, it has wider implications for helping to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage by providing a focus for training and employment, and improving self esteem and health.

Environmental Management Systems as Adaptive Natural Resource Management: Case Studies from Agriculture

There are strong parallels between Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Adaptive Management (AM); both focus on a cycle of continuous improvement through planning, doing, checking and acting and they both enable the modification of management practices based on monitoring. AM is a science-based structure for natural resource management. The strength of AM is that it brings a scientific approach to the management of complex biological, ecological, economical and social processes and that is what agriculture is. EMS can be based on an international standard. A manager using EMS identifies likely environmental impacts and legal responsibilities and implements and reviews changes and improvements in a structured way. EMS was developed so it could be used in all business sectors. The complexity of issues facing agricultural managers can provide a challenge to the application of EMS within that sector, however at the same time the process involved in developing an EMS can assist greatly in reducing and clarifying the complexity. An understanding and application of AM can also assist the application of EMS in agriculture. Importantly, in both AM and EMS the modifications are continual and can be determined mid-course. This chapter draws on an analysis of a group of 17 agricultural EMS case studies as examples of adaptive management in an industry that uses natural resources.

Indigenous Employment Program

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By , July 2, 2009 4:50 pm
AWS has been offered a position on the Economic Development and Business Panel of the Indigenous Employment Program.  An open tender process was conducted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for membership of the panel. The Panel allows organisations to be on a pre-qualified list of suppliers to provide quality services and innovative projects to help achieve employment outcomes and business development assistance for Indigenous Australians. The Employment Panel is available for a broad range of projects to equip employers and job seekers with the skills, knowledge and expertise in order to maximise sustainable employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous Employment Program funds projects on a rolling basis, with different projects each having their own start and end date. In announcing the results of the tender the Government said that "the services provided through the  Panel will foster and support enterprises from their beginning and throughout their development. The Panels have been designed to be as flexible as possible to allow for good ideas to be funded as need arises.  The new panel arrangements will provide flexibility so that the Government can better work with Indigenous communities, organisations and individuals to deliver better projects and improved employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”