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Productive agriculture and NRM – finding the synergy

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TitleProductive agriculture and NRM – finding the synergy
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWolfe T

In this paper, three agricultural zones in southern NSW (the irrigation areas, the sheep-wheat belt and the high rainfall grazing zone) are considered in terms of five ecosystem properties (imperatives): agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability, economic performance, social well-being and political acceptability. Examples are given of agricultural and environmental indicators that may routinely be used to measure the state of each of each zone. While the management principles and thresholds that have been defined by environmentalists for natural resource management (NRM) in these landscapes may never be met in full, examples are given of progress towards the better management of resources such as soil, water and clean air. The concept of native vegetation (enhancing biodiversity) is discussed as a particular case, since it embraces ideas of ecosystem function and resilience, production and conservation, aesthetics and heritage, evidence and beliefs, and the wellbeing of rural communities and urban societies. Although there is the potential for conflicting outcomes from management for conservation, which may produce long-term ecological gains for society but at an economic cost (short- to medium-term pain) for the rural landholder, there is a strong case for increased biodiversity in each zone. The difficulty is to increase the incentives for NRM. Ideas are given on how these conflicts might be negotiated and how NRM support may be made more efficient towards win-win outcomes. For the future, shared responsibility and healthy collaboration is essential between landholders, communities and the bodies that provide services to them, such as scientists, government, corporations, agribusiness, regional bodies and Landcare.

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Paper prepared for the NSW Landcare and Catchment Management Conference at Newcastle in 2013.

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