PastoralLines Volume Number 2 - July 2003
The Official Newsletter of the Pastoral Lands Board
Feral Pig Control Rangeland Condition Assessments Global positioning Systems Conservation in the Gascoyne - Murchison
Introducing The New Chairman
Introducing the New Chairman ..............................................2
IN THE NEWS Virtual Fencing .......................................................................4 Sandalwood Harvesting .........................................................4 New Member of the PLB Team ..............................................5 Pastoral Working Groups .......................................................5 Professor Alan Robson AM BAgrSc Melb., PhD UWA, FTSE, FAIAS Hackett Professor of Agriculture and Vice-Chancellor and Provost at The University of Western Australia Professor Alan Robson has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of The University of Western Australia since 1993. Prior to his appointment he held the position of Foundation Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Head of the School of Agriculture, and Professor of Agriculture (Soil Science) at The University of Western Australia. Professor Robson has recently been appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia and is a member of the Australian Universities Teaching Committee and the Council of the National Library of Australia. In 1987 he was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Subsequently he was awarded the Australian Medal of Agriculture Science and elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Alan Robson was the Foundation Chair of the Grains Legumes Research Council, and has been Deputy Chair Research Grants Committee of the Australian Research Council, a member of a three person committee to review agriculture and related education in Australia as well review panels to evaluate agricultural research in Denmark.
FEATURES Feral Pig Control ....................................................................6 GPS finds its way to every corner of the world ......................7 DCLMâ€™s Good Neighbour Policy ............................................8 Rangeland Condition Assessments .......................................9 Rangeland Survey Program in WA ......................................10 Apiary Site Permits on Pastoral Leases...............................11
PASTORAL ADVICE The Dividing Fences Act and Pastoral Leases ....................12 Pastoral Biosecurity .............................................................12
Pastoral Lines is published by the Pastoral Lands Board of Western Australia Pastoral Lands Board Phone: ..........9347 5126 Fax:...............9347 5009 Website:........www.dpi.wa.gov.au Email:............firstname.lastname@example.org
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Improvements on Pastoral Leases.......................................14
IN THE NEWS
IN THE NEWS
Researchers at the Department of Agriculture are working on a “virtual fencing”(VF) system that would control livestock through a small radio receiver attached to the animals’ bodies. Animals would be tagged and receive transmissions which warned them audibly if they were reaching a no-go zone. The device could also be combined with a smart tag called “electronic passports” to replace standard or bar-coded stock identification tags. The concept of the VF scheme is relatively simple. It involves the use of an electromagnetic field to establish either an exclusion or an inclusion zone for controlling movements of grazing animals fitted with the receiving device. A basic VF system would include a radio-wire type fence that transmits signals to create an exclusion zone, a programmable remote herding vehicle (RHV) that transmits signals to create an inclusion zone and the on-animal receiver device that complements both of these virtually fabricated zones. Animals are trained to alter their direction of movement in response to audio-electrical stimuli delivered by the receiver. The deterrent applied to the animal would not induce pain – instead, it could be a tickle or a vibration. The advantages of the system are that farmers will know where their animals are or be able to move them to where they should go with a few strokes of the keyboard. There is the potential for a one hundred percent increase in vegetation productivity over a 15 to 20 year period in semi-arid rangelands as a result of uniform and proper use of natural resources. Additionally, maximum grazing efficiency, through the utilisation of satellite intelligence to fully exploit seasonal conditions, could result in up to a 50 percent increase in animal productivity. The success of the system will depend on further investigation in animal behaviour, including testing animal welfare and conditioning to invisible barriers, and prototype equipment development. However the researchers need more funding to complete the project and require the producers, from cattle
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above - Dr Rouda demonstrating the virtual fencing technique.
to dairy and sheep farmers to lobby industry leaders for funding for the project. The Department of Agriculture, in partnership with Land and Water Australia and Environment Australia’s Biodiversity Group, have to date been the primary investors in the development of Virtual Fencing (VF) technology in Australia. Anyone wishing to learn more about VF is invited to contact Dr Rouda on 089088 6033 or by email at email@example.com. Sandalwood Harvesting Western Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) is recognised as a premium product and has an annual export value of around $10 million. Approximately 2000 tonnes of sandalwood is harvested annually, including both green and dead wood, under licences issued by the Forest Products Commission. The harvest is both sustainable and reliable. Western Australian sandalwood is a small tree or shrub between 3 – 8 metres tall and 10 – 30 cm in diameter, with sparse irregular spreading branches and dull grey – green fleshy leaves. It is a root semi – parasite associated with a range of hosts and is slow growing, but well adapted to drought. The heartwood is highly valuable for its aromatic oils and several species of sandalwood are found in Australia. Since the creation of the Forest Products Commission (FPC) it has been developing and investigating options that promote the long-term sustainable development
of the State’s sandalwood resource. Sandalwood is prevalent in the pastoral rangelands and while the land may be subject to a pastoral lease the sandalwood resource is reserved to the State. In liaison with the Pastoral Lands Board, the FPC is developing a sandalwood regeneration incentive scheme to target pastoral lessees. A number of opportunities exist for pastoral leaseholders to become involved in the sustainable development of the sandalwood resource on their lease, within the confines of the existing legislation. These options are not restricted to, but may include: - carrying out regeneration and seeding work on behalf of the FPC; - conducting harvesting operations; - coordinating grazing management with regeneration objectives; and - access to funding for activities that assist with sandalwood regeneration. Consultation is continuing between the relevant authorities to establish appropriate guidelines for sustainability of the industry. Further information can be obtained from the Forest Products Commission Sandalwood Business unit 08 9334 0419.
Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) is a characteristically scruffy tree found in a wide variety of habitats from the south coast to Roebourne. The young plants are eagerly grazed by sheep, cattle, goats and rabbits.
above - New Pastoral Land Management team member Brian Lloyd.
New Member of the PLB Team The Pastoral Land Management team has been joined recently by Brian Lloyd, who has taken on the new role of Project and Compliance Officer. Brian comes to us from the Department of Agriculture, where he has many years experience in soil conservation extension and sustainable land management. Brian was based in the Department of Agriculture’s Katanning District Office for twelve years and more recently in the Midland and Forrestfield offices. During this time, Brian was involved in: - assisting individual landholders and groups develop property plans and catchment plans; - raising awareness of degradation issues with individual landholders and groups, local government authorities, agencies and consultants, along with best management practices to deal with them; - promoting and designing soil and water conservation earthworks; - assisting groups and communities identify new opportunities for diversification and value-adding. He also has been involved in surveying in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Nullarbor areas of the State. Brian’s new role with the team will involve:
- providing advice and information to the Board and other stakeholders on pastoral and rangeland issues; - investigating specific lease management issues; - liaising with pastoral lessees, government agencies, industry and other stakeholders on pastoral issues; - assisting in the development of policies to help secure the sustainable future of the pastoral industry in WA. Brian is married with two teenage daughters. He will soon be out and about in the pastoral areas and looks forward to catching up with you to discuss issues. Pastoral Working Group examines issues rst hand Following the Gascoyne Muster last May, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan established five working groups to report and make recommendations on key issues involving Western Australia’s pastoral industry. One key issue identified at the Gascoyne Muster was the increasing public demand for access to pastoral land for a variety of pursuits – including tourism, recreational fishing and prospecting. Minister MacTiernan has established a working group, chaired by Jon Ford
MLC, to investigate how this increasing access demand might be provided in a controlled and safe manner that does not interfere excessively with the management of pastoral leases. The Access Working Group, comprises representatives from key stakeholders including the pastoral industry, mining, tourism and associated Government Agencies. The Group has been considering submissions relating to a variety of access issues including the provision of public access routes and informal camping, protocols for seeking access to pastoral land and the public liability responsibilities for access. To aid with the Working Group’s deliberations the members recently travelled to the Kimberleys to examine some of the issues identified on-site. Whilst in the Kimberleys the Working Group also took the opportunity to meet with key local stakeholders to discuss issues and gain feedback regarding their proposed recommendations. Working Group members agreed that this ‘first hand’ approach was most informative and educational in helping them to understand the issues and guide their deliberations. The opportunity to further discuss matters of concern with members of the Working Group was greatly appreciated by the large number of stakeholders who attended the Working Group’s forum in Derby. The Access Working Group, along with the other Working Groups, is due to submit its final report to the Minister by July with the findings of the Working Groups being tabled at a Muster to be held on the 11th and 12th of October of in Carnarvon.
above - The Working Group Members take a walk on the Derby jetty.
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Feral Pig Control Gary Martin and Laurie Twigg, Vertebrate Pest Research Section, Department of Agriculture, Forrestfield, Western Australia Feral pigs are often secretive by nature which makes it difficult to estimate their numbers accurately. Often their only signs are evidence of rooting an area for food. Feral pigs can damage crops, stock fences and watering points, and may cause significant lambing losses in temperate Australia. Feral pigs often compete with stock for food, causing the growth and regeneration of pasture to be retarded. A 200 square mile station in eastern Australia has reported that 10 per cent of the property was severely damaged by the rooting of feral pigs.
above - Severe damage caused by the rooting of feral pigs.
Good seasons in several parts of the State have allowed feral pig numbers to increase and they appear to be extending their range in some parts of Western Australia. However, except in the heavily-forested South West, feral pigs are usually restricted to riparian habitats or the channel country of the North. Anecdotal evidence suggests feral pig numbers may be increasing in some pastoral areas. A Kimberley station recently culled more than 550 feral pigs in 11 days. The role of feral pigs in the transmission of exotic diseases, such as Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis is not clear, and their potential to spread and transmit FMD may not be as great as previously thought, but this is still under considerable debate. It is not well documented, but principal effects of feral pigs on the natural environment in the Kimberley appear to be damage to natural vegetation, riverbanks and flats. This promotes erosion, and may help in the spread of weed species such as Noogoora Burr. Control options While it is the responsibility of landholders to control declared plant and animal pests on their properties, it is less daunting if a coordinated effort with neighbours is undertaken. Contact your local Department of Agriculture Office for advice on control options for declared species. A summary of the main options currently available for feral pigs is provided below.
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Shooting: Shooting is one of the best control options, especially in the pastoral areas of the State. Shooting from helicopters provides a quick population knockdown over several properties and is a valuable control option in an exotic disease emergency. Shooting from helicopters takes up little landholder time, has a relatively low cost per pig killed, and allows control in inaccessible areas or in seasonal conditions that limit access on the ground. Although ground-based shooting is usually only regarded as ancillary to other control options, it can also be used to good effect, especially if pig numbers are high and their habitat is easily accessible. However, both aerial and ground shooting can disperse animals and both techniques are less effective in woodland and forest habitat. Approved training is also required prior to shooting from helicopters. Firearms must be of the correct calibre when shooting feral pigs: either a .243 or .308 calibre rifle or 12-gauge shotgun with SG or SSG ammunition. Poisoning: Poisoning can effectively reduce feral pig numbers but eradication is unlikely when using only a single method of control. Sodium fluoroacetate (1080), on suitable feedstuffs (for example, grain, lupins, pig pellets), is the only toxin currently approved/registered for the control of feral pigs. However, 1080 can only be handled by Department of Agriculture staff. 1080 is not readily detected by pigs, and it usually provides a relatively low cost ratio per kill. It has disadvantages, the most important being the potential effects on non-target species through primary or secondary poisoning, the possible development of bait shyness, and the lack of an effective antidote.
GPS nds its way to every corner of the world.
Twenty five years ago nobody had heard of the global positioning system (GPS). Now it seems it is everywhere. As a much younger surveyor I spent many lonely, freezing nights on the top of isolated hills tracking stars through high precision theodolites that cost as much as a small pastoral station. The accuracy of the “fix” was no better than what anyone can now achieve with a $300 GPS in under one minute. How times have changed! We always used to dream of the big finger in the sky that would point and say “you are here”! Now we know where we are, day and night, rain or shine, if we carry a GPS. And the devices are getting smaller. I saw one in a watch the other day and it actually took pictures too. The chip that calculates the position from the satellite signals gets smaller each year. This allows it to be put to lots of different uses. In USA, for instance, there is a government mandate that all new mobile phones will have a GPS chip to send the position of the caller who rings 911. Ten million phones with this capability have been sold in the past 18 months. By 2008 they estimate that number will approach a staggering 160 million! In a recent magazine: Japan is running trials on equipping blind people with GPS devices to give them more freedom. A company is using GPS to guide a truck which
Recent research in far north Queensland investigated the effectiveness of aerial baiting with 1080 meat baits to control feral pigs in remote or inaccessible areas. Pig numbers were reduced by around 60 to 70%. The high bait density required created a potential risk for nontarget impacts and overall costs for this control exercise were high. Trapping: Trapping is the favoured control option for areas of intensive agriculture, such as in the Ord River Irrigation Area. However, it is relatively labour-intensive as traps have to be inspected every day, and trapped pigs destroyed using an appropriate calibre firearm. Trapping may be of limited value in pastoral areas owing to the size of holdings and the extensive range of pigs. Monitor pig populations and their activity to help keep their numbers at a manageable level. Coordinated efforts work best The most efficient control programs will use a variety of techniques, and will be most effective if all neighboring properties are involved in a coordinated effort. Feedback to your local Department of Agriculture office on locations and numbers of feral pigs will help build a better understanding of their impact, and will help in developing coordinated control programs by landholders. Farmnotes on feral pig control are available from regional offices of the Department of Agriculture. Further information: call Gary Martin on 9366 2300.
above - Ken Leighton demonstrating a GPS unit.
paints the white lines on the roads. A cab company in New York has electronic advertising billboards on top of their taxis which change as they move from one part of the city to another. However, GPS was really about more mundane things like telling you where you are: whether you were on the land or at sea, in the air or out in space. Even though it was firstly for the US military it was not long before the civilians around the world embraced the technology for the advantage of all – AND IT’S FREE. In May 2000 the US president gave the world another bonus by ordering the system, which degraded the signal to restrict positional accuracy to about 100 metres, be turned off. Now even the cheapest GPS receiver is accurate to about 10 metres any where in the world. OR IS IT?………. The answer is yes – but it depends how you use it and this is where many people get it wrong. There is a very fundamental setting on your GPS, usually found in the system menu, that wants you to set the ‘datum’. It’s easy to ignore, the GPS still works just fine, gives a position which you know from listening to the salesman is good to 5metres. That’s if you live in Adindan or Zanderij! If you don’t read any other part of the manual read the chapter on datums. In a nutshell (because I know you won’t read the manual) this is what a datum is. It defines the shape of the earth for the country you are in. Here’s a revelation: the earth is not round, where have we heard that before? It’s an oblate spheroid, like a squashed orange, and it is very difficult to define in a mathematical sense. Way back the clever types defined the shape of their bit of the earth (eg Australia) to best fit the squashed orange model – however that didn’t suit Adindan or Zanderij so they worked out their own. That was fine because all counties made there own maps separately. Then along came the space age and GPS. A world model was needed so the clever types put all their heads together and settled on WGS84 as the datum for the world. Australia then decided to tweak this a bit and gave us GDA94. Unless you are an astrophysicist they are effectively the same. “But is says AGD66 or AGD84 on the maps” because you got curious and looked. Well these are the original squashed orange models before we went global. And again they are effectively the same (just refinements that took 18 years to develop). But, NOW PAY ATTENTION, they are not the same as WGS84 or GDA94. There is about 200metres difference in a NE direction. So look at the datum on your map, (station plans do not list a datum but are AGD66) and set that on your GPS. Now they will match. Then all you have to select is whether your GPS displays UTM (Universal Tranverse Mercator) or Lat/Lon. I suspect you’ve already worked that out yourself. UTM output is in units of metres and Lat/Lon is in units of degrees. Use whatever you are comfortable with. Just notice that with UTM only there is a thing called Zone (on the display it will appear as 50 J or something similar). This is to do with representing the squashed orange peel as a flat surface and it is just as important as the Eastings and Northings it prefixes, especially if you are quoting these to someone. Terms such as MGA94 and AMG66 refer to the map grid (UTM values) based on GDA94 and AGD66 respectively. continued on page 15
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FEATURES Conservation and Land Management in the GMS region – DCLM’s Good Neighbour Policy
Considerable progress has been made towards establishing a conservation reserve system with the Gascoyne – Murchison Rangeland Strategy (GMS) region over the past five years. The creation of a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system is one of the important outcomes of the Strategy that addresses economic, social and environmental objectives in an integrated manner. The need to improve the region’s conservation reserve system arises from the identification of major gaps in the existing reserve network which was shown to be inadequate in area and was not representative of the full array of habitats contained within the region. At this point in time, 16 whole pastoral leases and parts of 17 other pastoral leases have been purchased by the State Government for inclusion in the conservation reserve system using both Commonwealth and State funds. This land totalling about 3.4 million hectares will be managed for the conservation of biodiversity (biological diversity) by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (DCLM). One of the first issues DCLM managers are faced with is the removal of sheep and cattle from these areas - that is necessary to allow the vegetation to recover over a period of time to its natural state. The prevention of domestic stock encroaching onto this land from neighbouring properties is an important issue requiring a cooperative approach to the maintenance of boundary fences. Boundary fence maintenance activities completed over the last couple of years include the replacement of old fences that were no longer stock-proof with new fences, and the upgrading of others in need of repair. In
all instances DCLM and neighbours have been involved in this work with an equal contribution to the cost of materials and construction being made from both parties. DCLM will continue to work with neighbours over boundary fence issues as part of being a good neighbour. Feral animals such as goats, foxes, cats, and in some areas camels and donkeys, are a major threat to the conservation of biodiversity (plants and animals) and need to be kept in check. DCLM has been actively engaged in the removal of goats from these properties since the reserve land acquisition program began. Research is continuing into effective control programs
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related to other feral animals, particularly foxes and cats which are having a serious effect on our native animals. Extensive fox baiting programs in other parts of the State managed for conservation purposes is recognised as having a positive effect on the return of populations of many of our native animals. Some native animals including dingoes and kangaroos are also of concern to pastoralists when population numbers increase to a level where domestic stock grazing activities are affected. DCLM staff are aware of the impact that dingoes can have on sheep and cattle and have been involved in dingo baiting programs covering conservation lands and adjoining pastoral land. Regional aerial baiting programs which include land managed for conservation have already been completed and the Department will continue to be involved in planning and operational activities related to dingo and wild dog control. Kangaroo numbers are also monitored and appropriate control measures taken where necessary. Many introduced plant species are considered undesirable depending on the context in which they occur. Undesirable plants are usually termed weeds, yet other introduced plants are not considered in this light even though they may have dramatic effects on native flora. DCLM will control both noxious and environmental weeds on conservation land and where necessary liaise with neighbours over control activities. Uncontrolled wild fires are a major issue for land managers whether they are involved in conservation activities, pastoral businesses, mining or tourism. DCLM has been involved in fire management and suppression over many years and will continue to do so with the objective of protecting people, property and conservation values on land in and around conservation reserves. DCLM will continue to liaise with adjoining landholders and Shires to achieve an integrated approach to fire suppression. On-the-ground works related to fire control, including the construction of suitable access tracks around and within reserves, have already been completed on some of this land. More will be done once destocking is achieved and management planning is completed. Some prescribed burning may be undertaken to reduce fuel buildup where particular values, including adjoining pastoral land and infrastructure, are considered at risk. DCLM will continue to provide information to the public about the risks of wildfires and their impacts on the environment through information boards and signs on reserves. Should you wish to discuss these issues further you can contact the nearest DCLM office or Tony Brandis on 97292733.
Range Condition Reports and Pastoral Lease Reports now one - Rangeland Condition Assessments
The Department of Agriculture recently addressed several key factors in the processing of pastoral inspections and has enhanced the methodology by which Department officers assess range condition and infrastructure. Previously the Department prepared two separate reports; the Pastoral Lease Report which concentrated on the rangeland resources of the lease and the Range Condition Report which covered both the rangeland resources and the infrastructure on a pastoral lease. These reports are now combined into one report with the title of Rangeland Condition Assessment (RCA). An officer from the Department will inspect the lease with, if possible, the lessee or manager. This allows the two to discuss the traverse route being taken, possible monitoring site locations and management options. Three methods of fixed point monitoring with increasing levels of objectivity will be adopted and incorporated into all traverse routes: 1 The basic level of monitoring known as ‘Virtual Sites’ will consist of a site photograph that expresses the range of vegetation condition on the lease. 2 Sites of special interest, such as patches of active erosion, areas of overgrazing, fragile communities or storm/fire effects, will be monitored using the
Conservation information to be included in pastoral lease reports
The Pastoral Lands Board believes that biodiversity maintenance should be addressed by the Board and by station lessees. Consequently a new ‘Regional biodiversity’ section has been added to the Rangeland Condition Assessments. The report will refer to any areas or issues that are of specific interest in terms of regional biodiversity. These may include threatened communities, threatened species, and any other conservation issues which relate to the lease. Pastoralists can assist by identifying biodiversity areas on their lease and by discussing any conservation issues with the reporting officer. Pastoralists and ecologists are identifying and discussing management of core biodiversity values through the Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Monitoring Unit (EMU) process in the Gascoyne Murchison Strategy area. The Department of Conservation and Land Management (DCLM) publish a list of Threatened Ecological Communities once they have been endorsed by the Minister for Environment, although the exact site locations are not publicly available. A Threatened Ecological Community is one which fits into one of the following categories: ‘presumed totally destroyed’, ‘critically endangered’, ‘endangered’ or ‘vulnerable’. DCLM also maintains a Declared Rare and Priority Flora List. The following categories are given to threatened species:
Environmental Monitoring Unit (EMU) Level One method; 3 Photographic monitoring sites. These are the most objective of the three tiers and include counts of all perennial species from the photo sites quadrate. The Department of Agriculture keeps a copy of all monitoring information at the district offices and also sends a copy to the lessee following the inspection. The RCA incorporates information from the lessee, photographic monitoring sites, Western Australian Rangeland Monitoring System (WARMS) sites, traverse data and information on previous reports. The RCAs are therefore useful as a management tool for pastoralists as well as serving their important administrative role. The RCAs are prepared for each lease every six years. However, the frequency of follow-up inspections is determined by a recently developed categorisation model. All leases are categorised based on the level of land management and/or infrastructure concerns. Leases with no concerns will be inspected every six years, leases with minor concerns will be inspected every three years, leases with moderate concerns will be inspected every two years and leases with severe concerns will be inspected annually. As the model is newly developed, it will continually evolve and has the advantage of focusing on leases with environmental and/or infrastructure issues whilst rewarding those leases with no such concerns. R Declared Rare Flora (DRF) 1 Plants with few poorly known populations on threatened lands. 2 Plants with few poorly known populations on conservation lands. 3 Plants with several poorly known populations, some on conservation lands. 4 Rare plants, not currently threatened, but require monitoring. The management of threatened communities and threatened species which occur on pastoral leases, particularly those that are not known to occur on lands set aside for nature conservation, is an important issue which will require the cooperation of pastoralists, Land Conservation District Committees and DCLM
above - Themeda grasslands are Threatened Ecological Communities in the Pilbara. They are categorised as ‘vulnerable’.
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Rangeland survey program in WA.
Many readers would be aware of the joint DOLA / Department of Agriculture program to describe and map the resources of the rangelands of the State. Many would have met and perhaps spent a day with the team as they worked through your region. Recent restrictions to budgets has meant a scaling back of the operations of the group but it is still active. Gone are the days of the big supply truck, caravans and the cook and his wife. Instead we are a lean group of only five occasionally accompanied by a specialist botanist from Department of Conservation and Land Management. The team is made up of professional personnel from the two agencies some who have been around more than they care to remember. In order of longevity: Alan Payne, Department of Agriculture, Rangeland Adviser; veteran of substantial years (now as a part-time member) has worked extensively in the Kimberley and on most regional surveys. Ken Leighton, DOLA, Surveyor and mapping specialist. Joined the group in 1985 for the Murchison project and has been involved in most regional surveys since. Peter Hennig, Department of Agriculture, Soils Technician. Similarly joined us for the Murchison and stayed on. Sandra Van Vreeswyk, Department of Agriculture, Rangeland Adviser. First survey was the NE Goldfields in 1988 and has been on every survey since. Brendan Nicholas, Department of Agriculture, trainee Rangeland Adviser. Brendan is relatively new to the survey group joining us for the start of the Nullarbor survey (2000), but has been involved with land assessment projects in the Esperance area for a number of years.
every kilometre along the traverse these assessments are recorded to gain an insight to the condition of the pastoral lease in a regional context. To quantify these ratings it is important for the group to find relict areas that have been little influenced by grazing stock. As you can imagine that is not often achieved. The purpose of the surveys is to provide enduringly useful information about the natural resource of the rangelands. We would spend about three days on an average pastoral holding traversing as many of the systems and paddocks as practicable. Typically we would traverse about 80km a day and complete up to six query points where a detailed description of the landform, vegetation and soil is made. The data from these query points is used to make up ‘the big picture’ of each land system. The final report and maps takes many years to compile. For the Pilbara regional survey comprising 182,000 square kilometres some 13,000km of traverse was recorded and detail from 720 query sites analysed from102 land systems. This took three years to complete in the field and the report is due for publishing this year.
Survey team on the Nullarbor: L-R; Peter on soils, Sandra on vehicle, Ken on knees and Brendan working.
The accompanying map shows how the State has been split up into the regional project areas and the status of the surveys. CSIRO, as a part of their Land Research Series, started the program in 1954 with the survey of the Meekatharra – Wiluna area. The North Kimberley came next and from then there was a gradual transfer of responsibility from the Commonwealth to the State. The basic classification of the landscape using land systems has not altered markedly since 1954. We still use aerial photography but Landsat Thermatic Mapper (TM) satellite imagery is being used more frequently. For the Nullarbor where the landscape pattern changes are more subtle satellite imagery provides a much better regional perspective. The major difference from the early CSIRO surveys was the introduction of vegetation and soil condition assessment rather than just straight inventory. Now at
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above - Revisiting the 1974 site found the only thing that had changed was the vehicles.
The team recently completed the field work for the previously unscheduled Lower Murchison region. The PLB had expressed some concerns about the condition of the Murchison River frontage, so being a fairly compact area it was decided the team should ‘fill in the gap’. The West Nullarbor survey was started in 2000 however budget restrictions and the need to complete the Pilbara project saw the field work put on hold. During the initial field work* it became increasingly apparent that the team would have considerable difficulty in matching up to the already completed (East) Nullarbor survey of 1974. We have decided that with the benefit of satellite imagery we
will reclassify this section to make it consistent with the rest of the State. Field work on the Nullarbor could start again towards the end of this year. After the Nullarbor survey the last remaining regional area is around Kalgoorlie to Norseman (Southern Goldfields). This is scheduled to start about 2005. The State will then be covered by a consistent dataset which can be used in all manner of ways eg. ecological planning and reporting, monitoring and valuations. Some of this is happening already with the Environmental Monitoring Unit (EMU) project and Western Australian Rangelands Monitoriing System (WARMS). For the new pastoralist it means that he/she has an inventory of the types of vegetation and landscape to be managed. For the more established lessee what he may have instinctively known is now available on a map.
Apiary Site Permits on Pastoral Leases The Department of Conservation and Land Management (DCLM) is responsible for the administration and management of apiary sites for commercial honeybees on Crown lands in Western Australia. Beekeeping is a small but significant industry in WA, with an average annual total income of $6.5 million, and a total worth (including pollination of commercial crops) in excess of $87 million. The Department of Agriculture provides technical advice to the apiculture industry. Statewide, there are 96 apiarists holding around 3050 permits for registered apiary sites on various categories of public land. There are approximately 315 permits issued on approximately 21 pastoral leases. Most of these are located east of Perenjori, in the Goldfields and, to a lesser extent, in the Pilbara Region. When a beekeeper applies for a site on a pastoral lease, he or she will be given a form which needs to be completed by both the pastoralist/station manager and the beekeeper, and then returned before DCLM will consider granting the beekeeper a registered permit. If pastoralists have issues with the placement of sites, DCLM will attempt to relocate the permit sites away from problem areas. Taking of honey, bees wax or pollen without the lawful authority of an apiary site permit issued under the Forest Management Regulations 1993 is an offence under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984. Pastoralists have the right to ask beekeepers to produce their permit at any time. (see condition 27 (b) of the Standard Apiary Site Conditions). A ‘Code of Conduct for the Harvesting of Forest Produce or Flora and for Apiary Site Permits on Pastoral Leases’ has also been produced. This document aims to foster a positive working relationship between all stakeholders, as well as ensuring the ecologically sustainable development of these industries that rely on the natural resources of the pastoral areas. Procedures for issuing apiary site permits are listed on the DCLM Naturebase website: http://www.naturebase.net/forest_facts/apiary/index.html To determine if a beekeeper has a registered apiary site on your pastoral lease or to find out about the conditions beekeepers are required to follow on all land, telephone Sean Bryce, the DCLM Apiary Site Officer on (08) 9334 0529 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sean also has copies of the Code of Conduct.
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The Dividing Fences Act and Pastoral Leases
Fencing on pastoral leases continues to be a growing issue. Some pastoralists have specific concerns such as possible contamination from straying stock, whilst others have general concern about legal liability, such as the risk of legal action in the event of a vehicle accident. Dividing Fences Act Does Apply The previous issue of Pastoral Lines in July 2001 had an article on the dividing fences legislation. However, some pastoralists are still uncertain as to where they stand. The PLB has confirmed legal opinion that the Dividing Fences Act 1961 DOES apply to pastoral leases where there is more than five years of the lease left to run. Details as to why it does apply were given in the previous issue of Pastoral Lines. Also, the Dividing Fences Act 1961 is currently under review and the Department of Land Administration has made a submission that the five year limit should not apply to pastoral leases. This would ensure that the existing requirement for cost sharing between neighbouring lessees would continue between 2010 and 2015. Some points worth noting are: • the Act does not bind the Crown as the owner of Crown land, but it does apply to lessees of Crown land, including pastoral lessees (section 4), • the definition of ‘owner’ includes pastoral lessees (section 5), and • if your local Shire has not specified what a ‘sufficient’ fence is, and if there is no agreement about this between the neighbours concerned, then the fence must be one that is capable of resisting both sheep and cattle. In addition, other legislation requires owners of stock to prevent the stock from trespassing and the owners may be liable for damage (including physical injury) caused if the animal escapes from their land. Obviously, an effective fence is the only practical way to ensure stock are contained on the lease. Look for Yourself. To view the Dividing Fences Act 1961, visit www.slp.wa.gov.au, then click on ‘Online Publications’ and then ‘Statutes-Acts and Regulations.’ From here, click on ‘Statutes: A-Z Browse’, then, up the top of the next page that opens click on ‘D’, where you will find this legislation. In addition, many Shire Offices also have an informative brochure called ‘Dividing Fences – Rights and Responsibilities’. Finally, for a copy of the last Pastoral Lines article on the dividing fences legislation, please contact the PLB on 9347 5126.
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10 POINT BIOSECURITY PLAN FOR THE PASTORAL REGION Biological Risks and Responses
1. Difficult to monitor large properties. The property is the principal barrier checkpoint. Introduce plans to undertake strategic surveillance in risk areas at critical times. Implement measures to reduce the risk of biological threats via people, equipment, goods, plants and animals. 2. Isolation impediment to reporting. Use modern technology, such as the internet, email, scanners and digital photographs, to readily document and report any unusual sightings. Rapid reporting is crucial to effective identification and response to a biosecurity threat. 3. People movement. Restrict access to your property by visitors and their vehicles beyond the homestead. Do not allow visitors near stock unless you are satisfied that their shoes and clothes are not contaminated.
above - Mesquite forms dense thickets which exclude other plants and prevent access to vehicles and livestock.
Pastoral Biosecurity - Protecting enterprises from pests, diseases and weeds
Plant or animal pests, diseases and weeds can have a devastating impact on agricultural production. Western Australia’s pastoral industry is particularly vulnerable to the threat of both endemic (established) and exotic (not established) pests, diseases and weeds, due to the vast size of properties, remote location, minimal population, climatic extremes and lack of infrastructure. A biosecurity breach can have a severe impact on pastoralists’ financial security, resulting in production losses, increased control costs and loss of existing and potential markets. The result could seriously affect the viability of individuals, the community and rangeland industries. While the State’s geographic isolation from the rest of the nation has created a natural quarantine barrier in the past, the increased movement of people and goods means that adequate protection is no longer possible. The Commonwealth Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is responsible for managing exotic threats, while the State Department of Agriculture, via the services of the WA Quarantine and Inspection Service, looks after State quarantine. However, to adequately protect the biosecurity status of the rangelands the combined vigilance and support of government, the community and pastoralists is required. It is the responsibility of each stakeholder to implement practical measures to prevent the entry and spread of unwanted plant and animal pests, diseases and weeds. This combined approach will ensure the future viability and sustainability of the pastoral region. Pastoralists provide the first line of defence on the rangelands against pest, disease and weed threats. By reporting any unusual sightings on their land or about their stock, pastoralists can assist early detection, identification and a rapid response to a biosecurity threat. The following biosecurity measures can be practically adopted by pastoralists to safeguard their businesses.
4. Vehicles and equipment movement. Where possible, use your vehicle to carry visitors around the property. Contractors’ vehicles and equipment must be cleaned of soil and plant residue before moving onto the property. Ensure you have appropriate clearing equipment and a designated cleaning area. 5. Diversification and tourism. Be aware of the industry and regional Industry Biosecurity Plans for enterprises on your property and those of your neighbours and other industries in the district. Implement strategic measures to minimise risks from people and vehicle movement as detailed above. 6. Yards, holding paddocks and waterways. These areas can harbour weed seeds and disease organisms. Undertake regular inspections of these high risk areas, especially after rainfall. 7. Introduced feed. May contain weed seeds and disease organisms. Ensure feed is from weed/disease-free properties. Feed in strategic, low risk areas. 8. Introduced stock. Regard introduced animals as being potentially infected. Drench or vaccinate them and place in a quarantine area for seven days to one month. 9. Animal pests and wandering stock. May carry diseases and if unmanaged can create grazing pressure. Maintain boundary fences to keep out stray stock and animal pests. Work with neighbours to control populations. 10. Meat-contaminated feedstuffs. May introduce exotic diseases. Read the label carefully on any manufactured feedstuffs as they may contain restricted animal matter. Do not feed any meat material (swill) to ruminants or pigs. Need more information? Further biosecurity information can be obtained by contacting the local Department of Agriculture office or visiting the Department’s website at www.agric.wa.gov.au
right - A widespread infestation of mesquite in the delta of the Fortesque river is cleary seen on a LANDSAT satellite image.
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Q. IMPROVEMENTS ON PASTORAL LEASES – WHO OWNS THEM? A. IT DEPENDS… It depends …. on: • what type of improvement it is; and • for what purpose the question is being asked. Sounds like a lawyer’s answer? Then read on. 1. What is an improvement? An improvement is something that increases, or improves, the value of land. In the case of pastoral leases, this would include such things as fencing, wells, bores, dams, watering points, sheds, permanent stockyards and homestead buildings. 2. Who owns the improvements on a pastoral lease? As mentioned, it will depend on what type of improvement it is. If the improvement is classed as an agricultural fixture, then when it is fixed to the land (ie built or constructed) it becomes part of the land and is owned by the Crown (as landlord). It cannot be removed without the landlord’s consent. An agricultural fixture is something that is attached to the land by the pastoral lessee for use in connection with agriculture or pastoral purposes. This would include such things as fences, wells, bores, dams, watering points, stockyards, and machinery and shearing sheds. Other types of fixtures, such as tenants’ fixtures, become part of the land when it is fixed to the land. However, the Crown only owns it when the lease comes to an end (by surrender, expiry or forfeiture). Until then the pastoral lessee owns it, and the pastoral lessee has a right to remove it during the term of the lease (unless the lease provides otherwise). This might include such things as buildings constructed to accommodate a small-scale tourism business carried on under a permit. 3. Who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of improvements on a pastoral lease? The pastoral lessee – under s107 of the LAA* “the lessee must maintain in good condition, and if necessary restore, renew or replace, all lawful improvements to the lease, to the satisfaction of the Board”. So, even though the Crown owns the agricultural fixtures, the pastoral lessee is nevertheless responsible for keeping them in good condition, and for restoring, renewing or replacing them. This is reflected in the ability of the Pastoral Lands Board to require a development (management) plan to be prepared, approved and implemented under s107(1) of the LAA*. If a pastoral lessee wishes to remove any improvements that could be classified as agricultural fixtures, and the pastoral lessee does not intend either: • to replace them in accordance with an approved development (management) plan; or • to replace them with similar improvements, then the pastoral lessee must obtain the Board’s approval. If the Board’s approval is not obtained, then the pastoral lessee risks being ordered by the Board to reinstate the improvement.
GPS nds its way to every corner of the world. (continued from page 7) If you are still confused ring me on 9273 7130 and I’ll see if I can unravel the mystery further. Now a word of caution to GPS users who want to be surveyors. I have had numerous calls from lessees who have access to GPS who want to more accurately define their pastoral lease boundaries. DOLA provides a chargeable service that supplies co-ordinates of pastoral lease boundaries. These can be used in conjunction with your GPS to mark out the lease. However, the co-ordinate values are only accurate to about 10 metres so if there is any dispute with neighbours about the ownership of land or improvements on the boundary this may not be accurate enough to resolve the issue. Remember also that the GPS is only accurate to about 10 metres so you could well end up 20 metres out of position. By statute the only person qualified to define a boundary to the satisfaction of the court is a licensed surveyor who holds a current practicing certificate. For the more sophisticated users who are into computers and laptops there is quite cheap mapping programs (as low as $140) that use your station plan, topographic map or satellite image as a background to GPS derived information. By linking your GPS to your laptop you can drive around your property recording the position of fences, windmills, tracks, etc. This can be used to update your map. For more information on GPS and mapping contact the author, Ken Leighton at DOLA on 9273 7130, or email email@example.com
above and below - These GPS units are well suited to finding prominent survey markers that define property boundaries and are often used to position new fences. However, they are no substitute for rigorous survey if a land dispute is likely
4. What are a pastoral lessee’s rights if its pastoral lease expires, and it is not extended or renewed? For almost all pastoral leases, the pastoral lessee will be entitled to be paid compensation. The amount of compensation will be the market value of the improvements on the land on the expiry date, as determined by the Valuer General. [This applies to all pastoral leases that were granted before the LAA* came into force in 1998, and to any extension or renewal of that lease in 2015 – s114(1) and (2) of the LAA*]. For any other pastoral lease, the pastoral lessee is not entitled to any compensation for improvements – s114(3) of the LAA*. 5. What are a pastoral lessee’s rights if its pastoral lease is forfeited? The pastoral lessee may remove such improvements as are of a kind easily capable of being removed. This would be unlikely to include agricultural fixtures.
Did you know the Pastoral Lands Board is now a part of the Department for Planning and Infrastructure.
6. What are a pastoral lessee’s rights if mining activities are carried out on its pastoral lease? If a mining tenement has been granted under the Mining Act, the pastoral lessee is entitled to compensation from the holder of the mining tenement: • for any damage to improvements caused by the holder, and for any loss suffered resulting from that damage; • any substantial loss of earnings suffered resulting or arising from mining by the holder. It is not always the end of the matter to know who owns the improvements on a pastoral lease. The LAA*, the common law and other Acts all affect what are a pastoral lessee’s rights and obligations in relation to improvements on the pastoral lease, depending on what the particular issue is. [In this article, LAA* refers to the Land Administration Act 1997.]
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Government of Western Australia Media Statement The Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLA Statement Released: 11 June 2003 Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Portfolio: Planning and Infrastructure New chair for Pastoral Lands Board A new chairman of Western Australia’s Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) will help guide the State Government and the pastoral industry through decisions crucial to the sector’s future. Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan today announced the appointment of Professor Alan Robson as chairman of the State Government’s premier advisory body on management of Crown Land held in pastoral leases. Professor Robson is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of WA - a senior management position. “In the next few years the Government will make major decisions about the State’s pastoral system,” Ms MacTiernan said. “These include decisions about land to be excluded when the leases are renewed in 2015, tenure conditions and issues such as sustainability and access to pastoral land. “Professor Robson has the qualifications and experience to help the board make a strong contribution to these decisions. “As well as having served as Dean of the Agriculture Faculty at UWA and as a director of the Co-operative Research Centre for legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture, Professor Robson chairs the Sustainability for Pastoralism working group, established at last year’s Gascoyne Muster. “While Professor Robson is the first academic appointed to chair the PLB, the board’s membership remains strongly representative of the industry and of the State’s different pastoral regions.” Other PLB appointments announced by the Minister include: - Adrian Morrissey from Meeline Station, near Mt Magnet, who is an advocate of sustainable pastoral management; - Environmental consultant David Wilcox; and - Kevin Walley of Belele Station, near Meekatharra, who has been re-appointed as the indigenous representative. Four appointees continue as members of the current board. They are: - Susan Bradley, pastoralist, of Theda, Doongan and Ellenbrae Stations in the North Kimberley; - Margot Steadman, pastoralist, from Wooramel Station near Carnarvon; - Sandra Eckert, representing the chief executive officer of the Department of Land Administration; and - Dr Graeme Robertson, the Director General of the Department of Agriculture. Four new deputy members have been appointed: - Jack Burton, Yeeda, Kilto and Mt Jowlaenga Stations (East Kimberley); - Ann Coppin, Yarrie Station (Pilbara); - Tony McPherson, Diemals Station (Goldfields); and - Robert Watson, Mt Anderson (East Kimberley) - indigenous representative. - Deputy conservation representative Denise True has been re-appointed. Ms MacTiernan thanked retiring chairman Max Cameron, board member Joe de Pledge and deputy-members Tim Darcy and Lindsey Lockyer. “Max, Joe, Tim and Lindsey have made a significant contribution to the industry at a time of great change with the recognition of Native Title and the lease renewal process,” the Minister said. “I very much hope they will continue to have input through the forums we have created for the industry.” Minister’s office: 9213 6400 Government of Western Australia Content authorised by the Government Media Office Department of the Premier and Cabinet