Land use threat to WA ecosystems

Claire TyrrellThe West Australian
Michael Clinch ran Nallan Station in the Murchison.
Camera IconMichael Clinch ran Nallan Station in the Murchison. Credit: Picture: Kerry Trapnell

Urgent changes to the State’s regional land management policies must occur to prevent the loss of WA’s diverse ecosystems.

This is the message in global philanthropic group Pew Charitable Trusts’ Outback Papers to be released in WA this week.

Pew Charitable Trusts national director Barry Traill said the scope of land uses available to pastoralists and land managers must be broadened.

“We have a system that doesn’t allow people to diversify into a range of new industries that would offer opportunities,” he said.

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Former WA pastoralist Michael Clinch, featured in the report, last year made the heartbreaking decision to leave Nallan Station, near Cue, after 16 years.

He is leading the push for reform of WA’s rangelands policies and has urged the State Government to adopt policies that support carbon farming and land use diversification.

Mr Clinch could no longer afford run his station after de-stocking most of his cattle herd to rejuvenate the landscape.

“The Murchison is on its knees,” he said. “It has been overgrazed and exploited. A lot of people can’t make money because of the state of their land.

“This is not a waste country, it’s a country that’s been wasted — the problem has been 100 years in the making.”

State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said yesterday rangelands reform was a “necessary part of unleashing the agricultural and horticultural potential of the north”.

“We need to make way for more irrigated agriculture, both for horticulture and to increase the quality and quantity of northern beef production,” she said.

“There are also real prospects for carbon farming, which could increase the viability of pastoral leases in the rangelands.”

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