/  By Erin Pope
Southern Rangelands Round Table Panel

On Friday the 2nd October over 110 people gathered at the Mount Magnet Racecourse in WA for the Southern Rangelands Roundtable Pastoral Meeting. Debbie Dowden from Challa Station set the tone of the event early on, highlighting the events that have shaped the Southern Rangelands in the past, and how the region is poised for transformation. She hoped the formation of a grower group would bring pastoralists in the region together to better access and apply relevant research and development.  

“In a changing climate, we can’t control the weather but we can control how we respond, and we need to respond with a whole landscape approach.”

Debbie Dowden, Challa Station

Dr Dean Revell from Select Carbon also presented to the forum and agreed that those in the Southern Rangelands are at a point in time and place to capture opportunities and take them forward. He spoke about the interaction between a carbon farming project and a pastoral enterprise, emphasising it’s not an ‘either or’ scenario. 

“It’s about how you integrate a new opportunity, such as a human induced regeneration (HIR) project, alongside your existing pastoral business approach and capacity. How can we design this in a way that utilizes the adoption of new management activities to enhance the positive interaction between the soil, the landscape, and the livestock.”

Dean Revell, Select Carbon

Dean Revell at Southern Rangelands Roundtable
Dean Revell speaking at the Southern Rangelands Round Table Forum in Mount Magnet, WA

Through a HIR project, there is the opportunity to capture and store carbon in the regenerating woody vegetation. Like other commodities, carbon has a price and there is the opportunity to sell it. But unlike other commodities, the end product stays where it is, and we can continue to draw benefits into the landscape. Through a carbon project, a pastoralist can invest back into their business but also back into the landscape.  

Pastoralists from the different regions that form the Southern Rangelands were asked to bring forward key challenges facing their areas. Some of these included the management of wild dogs within cells, how the transition to better roads has created water shadows across the landscape and the desire to control total grazing pressure. Areas for future development were noted as the adoption of relevant Ag Tech relating to remote monitoring, sensing and communication, and the opportunity of other carbon methods such as soil carbon in the rangelands.  

Overall, it was an engaging day with the group forming an interim committee that will propose and explore the details around the potential body to be formed. Alannah Mac Tiernan, the WA Minister for Regional Development, and Agriculture and Food, also expressed her support of the formation of a new grower group to encompass pastoralists in the region.