Regional Planning in Queensland’s Rangelands: Challenges and Prospects for Biodiversity Conservation
CLIVE A. MCALPINE1*, SONJA HEYENGA1,2, BRUCE TAYLOR2, ANN PETERSON1 and GEOFF MCDONALD2
1School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
2CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, Carmody Rd, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
In Australia, the Commonwealth and State governments are increasingly devolving natural resource management (NRM) responsibilities to regional bodies. This move has led to the development of regional NRM plans. Native vegetation and biodiversity conservation, along with soil, pasture and water resources, are key components of the regional NRM plans in Queensland’s extensive rangelands. This paper outlines and applies a set of criteria for evaluating the native vegetation and biodiversity content of accredited regional NRM plans for Queensland’s rangelands. The evaluation showed considerable variation in the comprehensiveness of the information and knowledge base and management action targets among plans, including the poor articulation of impacts of excessive grazing pressure on biodiversity. The NRM plans lacked effective integration of natural resource, native vegetation and biodiversity conservation targets and actions. Several regions had too many biodiversity targets, many of which were poorly integrated. This is symptomatic of a limited understanding of rangelands as ecological systems and the lack of an integrated planning framework. We conclude regional NRM planning is not a ‘silver bullet’ for biodiversity conservation in the rangelands, but rather, it is the beginning of a long road to address complex, multi-scale problems at a regional level.