Beneficial land sector change in far northern Australia is required and possible-A refutation of McLean and Holmes (2019)

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    In a recent paper we set out a case for extending current and emerging ecosystem services enterprise opportunities to support sustainable land sector development in far northern Australia (Russell-Smith and Sangha 2018: The Rangeland Journal 40, 315-330. doi:10.1071/RJ18005). In that paper we illustrate very significant economic viability and environmental sustainability issues associated with the current dominant land use, the extensive rangeland beef cattle industry. Our beef enterprise economic assessments drew heavily on reports by Ian McLean, Phil Holmes and colleagues, as well as various other authoritative studies. In a detailed response, McLean and Holmes outline their concerns that, in various instances, we misrepresented their data and that our assessment 'does not accurately portray the economic performance and contribution of the pastoral sector in northern Australia, nor justify the conclusion that fundamental land sector change is required' (Comment by McLean and Holmes 2019: The Rangeland Journal, 41, 157-160. doi:10.1071/RJ18098). We acknowledge the singular contributions of those authors for our understanding of the enterprise characteristics and challenges faced by northern beef producers, but further, we: (a) for context, demonstrate the magnitude of the economic and sustainability challenges faced by the majority of northern beef producers as described in a range of pertinent studies including their own (b) provide a detailed refutation of all eight of their listed concerns and (c) conclude that available evidence does in fact strongly support the need for exploring diversified enterprise opportunities towards developing a sustainable and inclusive far northern land sector.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)363-369
    Number of pages7
    JournalRangeland Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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