The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia

Michael Lawes, R GREINER, Ian Leiper, Ronald Ninnis, Diane Pearson, Guy Boggs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Land-clearing represents the first step in agricultural development and signals a shift in landscape function towards provisioning ecosystem services, in particular food production. In the process, other types of ecosystem services are often unintentionally lost as illustrated by the associated decline in biodiversity, increased soil erosion and emission of greenhouse gases. In 2003, the Northern Territory state government in Australia promulgated a moratorium on the clearing of native vegetation on freehold land in the Douglas-Daly river catchment, an area experiencing increasing pressure from agricultural development. The moratorium was intended to limit the rate and extent of land-clearing for a period of time so that informed policy could be concurrently developed to guide future land-clearing and minimise negative impacts. Under the moratorium, land-clearing required a permit and had to conform to broad guidelines; clearing was confined to freehold land, was prohibited in close proximity to wetlands, rivers and rainforest to safeguard water quality, and there were prescribed limits on percentages cleared by property, vegetation type, sub-catchment, and the whole catchment. Remotely sensed data (1977-2011) were used to explore the effectiveness of the moratorium. The analysis shows that, during moratorium years (2002-2009), clearing rates accelerated rather than slowed in the moratorium area and was mostly (81%) conducted without the required permits. The extent of land cleared after the moratorium was declared, and the fallow nature of some of this land a decade later, suggests that much of the land-clearing may have been completed in anticipation of stricter future controls. The moratorium failed because it was not formally legislated and was too broadly defined. Consequently, the non-binding nature of the land-clearing guidelines, and the absence of systematic monitoring of land cover change or penalties for clearing land without a permit, led to uninformed and uncontrolled clearing. This paper demonstrates that effective policy is only as good as its level of implementation. � 2015 Australian Rangeland Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)399-408
    Number of pages10
    JournalRangeland Journal
    Volume37
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Fingerprint

    Northern Territory
    agricultural development
    ecosystem service
    catchment
    ecosystem services
    soil emission
    land clearing
    effect
    food production
    rangeland
    fallow
    river
    rainforest
    vegetation type
    soil erosion
    land cover
    greenhouse gas
    state government
    rivers
    wetland

    Cite this

    Lawes, M., GREINER, R., Leiper, I., Ninnis, R., Pearson, D., & Boggs, G. (2015). The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia. Rangeland Journal, 37(4), 399-408. https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ15014
    Lawes, Michael ; GREINER, R ; Leiper, Ian ; Ninnis, Ronald ; Pearson, Diane ; Boggs, Guy. / The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia. In: Rangeland Journal. 2015 ; Vol. 37, No. 4. pp. 399-408.
    @article{4f547d788f3b4807a4c2e060d0a126c9,
    title = "The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia",
    abstract = "Land-clearing represents the first step in agricultural development and signals a shift in landscape function towards provisioning ecosystem services, in particular food production. In the process, other types of ecosystem services are often unintentionally lost as illustrated by the associated decline in biodiversity, increased soil erosion and emission of greenhouse gases. In 2003, the Northern Territory state government in Australia promulgated a moratorium on the clearing of native vegetation on freehold land in the Douglas-Daly river catchment, an area experiencing increasing pressure from agricultural development. The moratorium was intended to limit the rate and extent of land-clearing for a period of time so that informed policy could be concurrently developed to guide future land-clearing and minimise negative impacts. Under the moratorium, land-clearing required a permit and had to conform to broad guidelines; clearing was confined to freehold land, was prohibited in close proximity to wetlands, rivers and rainforest to safeguard water quality, and there were prescribed limits on percentages cleared by property, vegetation type, sub-catchment, and the whole catchment. Remotely sensed data (1977-2011) were used to explore the effectiveness of the moratorium. The analysis shows that, during moratorium years (2002-2009), clearing rates accelerated rather than slowed in the moratorium area and was mostly (81{\%}) conducted without the required permits. The extent of land cleared after the moratorium was declared, and the fallow nature of some of this land a decade later, suggests that much of the land-clearing may have been completed in anticipation of stricter future controls. The moratorium failed because it was not formally legislated and was too broadly defined. Consequently, the non-binding nature of the land-clearing guidelines, and the absence of systematic monitoring of land cover change or penalties for clearing land without a permit, led to uninformed and uncontrolled clearing. This paper demonstrates that effective policy is only as good as its level of implementation. � 2015 Australian Rangeland Society.",
    author = "Michael Lawes and R GREINER and Ian Leiper and Ronald Ninnis and Diane Pearson and Guy Boggs",
    year = "2015",
    doi = "10.1071/RJ15014",
    language = "English",
    volume = "37",
    pages = "399--408",
    journal = "The Rangeland Journal",
    issn = "1036-9872",
    publisher = "CSIRO Publishing",
    number = "4",

    }

    Lawes, M, GREINER, R, Leiper, I, Ninnis, R, Pearson, D & Boggs, G 2015, 'The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia', Rangeland Journal, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 399-408. https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ15014

    The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia. / Lawes, Michael; GREINER, R; Leiper, Ian; Ninnis, Ronald; Pearson, Diane; Boggs, Guy.

    In: Rangeland Journal, Vol. 37, No. 4, 2015, p. 399-408.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - The effects of a moratorium on land-clearing in the Douglas-Daly region, Northern Territory, Australia

    AU - Lawes, Michael

    AU - GREINER, R

    AU - Leiper, Ian

    AU - Ninnis, Ronald

    AU - Pearson, Diane

    AU - Boggs, Guy

    PY - 2015

    Y1 - 2015

    N2 - Land-clearing represents the first step in agricultural development and signals a shift in landscape function towards provisioning ecosystem services, in particular food production. In the process, other types of ecosystem services are often unintentionally lost as illustrated by the associated decline in biodiversity, increased soil erosion and emission of greenhouse gases. In 2003, the Northern Territory state government in Australia promulgated a moratorium on the clearing of native vegetation on freehold land in the Douglas-Daly river catchment, an area experiencing increasing pressure from agricultural development. The moratorium was intended to limit the rate and extent of land-clearing for a period of time so that informed policy could be concurrently developed to guide future land-clearing and minimise negative impacts. Under the moratorium, land-clearing required a permit and had to conform to broad guidelines; clearing was confined to freehold land, was prohibited in close proximity to wetlands, rivers and rainforest to safeguard water quality, and there were prescribed limits on percentages cleared by property, vegetation type, sub-catchment, and the whole catchment. Remotely sensed data (1977-2011) were used to explore the effectiveness of the moratorium. The analysis shows that, during moratorium years (2002-2009), clearing rates accelerated rather than slowed in the moratorium area and was mostly (81%) conducted without the required permits. The extent of land cleared after the moratorium was declared, and the fallow nature of some of this land a decade later, suggests that much of the land-clearing may have been completed in anticipation of stricter future controls. The moratorium failed because it was not formally legislated and was too broadly defined. Consequently, the non-binding nature of the land-clearing guidelines, and the absence of systematic monitoring of land cover change or penalties for clearing land without a permit, led to uninformed and uncontrolled clearing. This paper demonstrates that effective policy is only as good as its level of implementation. � 2015 Australian Rangeland Society.

    AB - Land-clearing represents the first step in agricultural development and signals a shift in landscape function towards provisioning ecosystem services, in particular food production. In the process, other types of ecosystem services are often unintentionally lost as illustrated by the associated decline in biodiversity, increased soil erosion and emission of greenhouse gases. In 2003, the Northern Territory state government in Australia promulgated a moratorium on the clearing of native vegetation on freehold land in the Douglas-Daly river catchment, an area experiencing increasing pressure from agricultural development. The moratorium was intended to limit the rate and extent of land-clearing for a period of time so that informed policy could be concurrently developed to guide future land-clearing and minimise negative impacts. Under the moratorium, land-clearing required a permit and had to conform to broad guidelines; clearing was confined to freehold land, was prohibited in close proximity to wetlands, rivers and rainforest to safeguard water quality, and there were prescribed limits on percentages cleared by property, vegetation type, sub-catchment, and the whole catchment. Remotely sensed data (1977-2011) were used to explore the effectiveness of the moratorium. The analysis shows that, during moratorium years (2002-2009), clearing rates accelerated rather than slowed in the moratorium area and was mostly (81%) conducted without the required permits. The extent of land cleared after the moratorium was declared, and the fallow nature of some of this land a decade later, suggests that much of the land-clearing may have been completed in anticipation of stricter future controls. The moratorium failed because it was not formally legislated and was too broadly defined. Consequently, the non-binding nature of the land-clearing guidelines, and the absence of systematic monitoring of land cover change or penalties for clearing land without a permit, led to uninformed and uncontrolled clearing. This paper demonstrates that effective policy is only as good as its level of implementation. � 2015 Australian Rangeland Society.

    U2 - 10.1071/RJ15014

    DO - 10.1071/RJ15014

    M3 - Article

    VL - 37

    SP - 399

    EP - 408

    JO - The Rangeland Journal

    JF - The Rangeland Journal

    SN - 1036-9872

    IS - 4

    ER -