Almost 75 per cent of Australia is rangelands. Pastoral industries are the dominant agricultural users in the rangelands, through extensive grazing on native vegetation.
Rainfall is generally too low or erratic for agricultural cropping or improved pastures. About 6000 pastoral enterprises occupy 58 per cent of the rangelands land area. These enterprises make significant contributions to the economy but are under increasing market, environmental and economic pressure. Of the total value of agricultural production in the Australian rangelands, pastoral production dominates at $1.8 billion for 2001, with non-pastoral agricultural production estimated at $628 million in the same year.
Through initiatives such as the National Principles and Guidelines for Rangeland Management PDF [433 KB, 46 pages] and Caring for our Country the department is working to achieve sustainable land management in the rangelands.
The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) is a coordinating mechanism that brings together rangeland information from state and Northern Territory agencies and other sources. ACRIS. recognises:
- the need for greater cooperation across state and territory boundaries
- the need for a more inclusive and Australia–wide approach to rangelands management
- the need to maximise returns on the limited resources available for rangelands assessment
- addresses the deficiencies in existing state and Northern Territory monitoring systems.
Products and an overview of the outcomes of rangelands monitoring are available from the Department of Environment website.