Challenges, solutions and research priorities for sustainable rangelands

Uffe N. Nielsen, Mark Stafford-Smith, Graciela I. Metternicht, Andrew Ash, Alex Baumber, Matthias M. Boer, Sandy Booth, Don Burnside, Amber C. Churchill, Marwan El Hassan, Margaret H. Friedel, Cecile M. Godde, Dana Kelly, Mick Kelly, John F. Leys, Sarah E. McDonald, Yiheyis T. Maru, David G. Phelps, Malcolm Ridges, Geoff SimpsonBarry Traill, Brian Walker, Cathleen M. Waters, Angus W. Whyte

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Australia's rangeland communities, industries, and environment are under increasing pressures from anthropogenic activities and global changes more broadly. We conducted a horizon scan to identify and prioritise key challenges facing Australian rangelands and their communities, and outline possible avenues to address these challenges, with a particular focus on research priorities. We surveyed participants of the Australian Rangeland Society 20th Biennial Conference, held in Canberra in September 2019, before the conference and in interactive workshops during the conference, in order to identify key challenges, potential solutions, and research priorities. The feedback was broadly grouped into six themes associated with supporting local communities, managing natural capital, climate variability and change, traditional knowledge, governance, and research and development. Each theme had several sub-themes and potential solutions to ensure positive, long-term outcomes for the rangelands. The survey responses made it clear that supporting 'resilient and sustainable rangelands that provide cultural, societal, environmental and economic outcomes simultaneously' is of great value to stakeholders. The synthesis of survey responses combined with expert knowledge highlighted that sustaining local communities in the long term will require that the inherent social, cultural and natural capital of rangelands are managed sustainably, particularly in light of current and projected variability in climate. Establishment of guidelines and approaches to address these challenges will benefit from: (i) an increased recognition of the value and contributions of traditional knowledge and practices; (ii) development of better governance that is guided by and benefits local stakeholders; and (iii) more funding to conduct and implement strong research and development activities, with research focused on addressing critical knowledge gaps as identified by the local stakeholders. This requires strong governance with legislation and policies that work for the rangelands. We provide a framework that indicates the key knowledge gaps and how innovations may be implemented and scaled out, up and deep to achieve the resilience of Australia's rangelands. The same principles could be adapted to address challenges in rangelands on other continents, with similar beneficial outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)359-373
    Number of pages15
    JournalRangeland Journal
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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