A critique of environmental management systems and their relevance in the north Australian pastoral industry

  • Siobhan Elizabeth Denniss

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    This is a critique of Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) and their applicability to the north Australian pastoral industry. The report has been written to satisfy the Master of Tropical Environmental Management requirements.

    In this document I intend to:
    • introduce the north Australian pastoral industry, its history and current practices
    • review 'off the shelf environmental management systems (EMS)
    • consider the applicability of these EMS to the north Australian pastoral industry, and
    • make recommendations

    Today the north Australian pastoral industry is interested in demonstrating its environmental credentials by promoting industry standards (Tropical Savannas CRC 2002c ). In recent years there has been a growing interest in Environmental Management Systems (EMS) which are increasingly regarded by government bodies and by pastoral industry members as a tool for environmental accountability and to improve natural resource management (NRM) generally. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have recently completed a report on the implementation of IS014001, a formal EMS, on several different pastoral properties (Banney 2002). EMS is a relatively new concept and there has been limited evaluation ofEMSs and their applicability in the north Australian pastoral industry. Industry members do not know if EMS will effectively address the unique environmental issues of the industry in northern Australia.

    Having reviewed the literature on the topic I have concluded that it may not be practical to apply EMSs across the board in the north Australian pastoral industry. EMSs may be a management tool applicable to larger scale pastoral enterprises for the following reasons:
    • Such enterprises have the resources to support the administration and monitoring requirements of a formal EMS
    • EMSs are a tool that demonstrates environmental progress to enterprise stakeholders such as the Board ofManagement or shareholders.
    • They assist with maintaining corporate knowledge
    • They have potential as a marketing tool and may secure market access particularly in an environmentally conscious society. However the small to medium sized properties may lack the financial and human resources required to implement an EMS.

    Further, EMSs do not focus on scale that is appropriate for the large property sizes and regional context of northern NRM. Nor do EMSs emphasise NRM outcomes on the ground.

    To ensure all pastoral enterprises regardless of size can apply environmental management to their properties a more regional approach is needed. The development ofbest practice management (BPM) guidelines followed by environmental codes of practice (COP), to ensure appropriate natural resource management (NRM) occurs, is a practical solution, which can be adopted by all industry participants regardless of the size of the business.
    Date of AwardDec 2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPenny Wurm (Supervisor)

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