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Land Degradation and Rehabilitation: A Policy Framework

Land Degradation and Rehabilitation: A Policy Framework,Geoff Edwards,Neil Byron

Land Degradation and Rehabilitation: A Policy Framework   (Citations: 1)
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We hear a lot about environmental pressures associated with natural resource-based production systems in Australia: • Salinisation of land and water • Acidification of soil • Soil erosion and deterioration of soil structure • Spread of weeds • Eutrophication of streams and lakes • Loss of biodiversity Taken together, these are usually seen as Australia's worst environmental problem. Australia is committing a large, and increasing, amount of public resources to the objective of improving the natural resource-based environment. For example, the Murray Darling Basin Council has adopted a program of salinity interception schemes worth $60 million over 7 years, complementing the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (Truss 2001). Our focus is mainly on the agriculture- related component, a large part of the whole. The magnitude and growth of public funding in this area is sufficient reason for holding today's Symposium, notwithstanding that the spending of landholders on "environmental protection and improvement" almost certainly dwarfs public spending. Open and critical scrutiny of policy is conducive to better policy and better policymaking. In addition to the size and the growth in public investment in the environment, there are other reasons why it is appropriate to look closely at this area. The complex and often poorly-understood biophysical relationships involved, means that it is very difficult to accurately assess the public and private benefits and costs of any actions, or of inaction. Achieving the desideratum expressed by the Prime Minister in announcing the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality that targets and standards for water quality and salinity should be "based on good science and economics" (Howard 2000, p.2) therefore poses a large challenge. The implications of good and bad decisions for Australian food production, exports, employment and population distribution could be substantial in the next 30-50 years. We have been asked to help "set the scene" for the following sessions. We attempt to open up the topic by posing a number of questions that seem important in thinking about agriculture-related environmental damage and about policy responses. We have also offered some possible answers to these questions, drawing substantially on the research of others. However, consistent with our terms of reference, we do not wish to strike a prescriptive tone, and we are conscious that there is much more to be said.
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    • ...This political aspect can be seen in the writings of Toyne and Farley (2000) in their review of Landcare when they suggest that ‘there is a political imperative to maximise the number of projects funded across the country so that as many voters as possible can see where their Telstra dollars have gone’ (cited in Edwards and Byron 2001)...

    Jason Crean. Agri-environmental conservation – the case for an environmental levy

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