The importance of biodiversity for Australian red meat production

The importance of biodiversity is well recognised by Australian red meat producers.

Farmers have long been aware that a healthy landscape pays dividends in terms of greater productivity and preserving natural resources to be handed down to future generations. The definition of biodiversity is generally accepted as the variety of all life forms on the planet – plants, animals, micro-organisms and the ecosystems they exist in.

Conserving our biodiversity is an integral element of protecting the Earth’s life support systems.  All forms of life rely on these support systems to survive.  For example, we all need fresh water to drink, healthy soils for food production and oxygen to breathe.
Biological diversity as it relates to the grazing of livestock in Australia refers to native grasses, woodlands, trees, shrubs and the insects and animal species that rely on this habitat to survive and prosper.

In the past inappropriate farming practices, particularly government-mandated land clearing, led to a drop in the areas of native vegetation which negatively impacted biodiversity in Australia.

However, farmers today proactively protect remnant native vegetation to protect, manage and enhance biodiversity on farmland.

Examples of biodiversity preservation include the planting of shrubs and trees to alleviate issues such as soil erosion, managing feral pests to ensure they don’t interfere with native animal populations and dedicating areas of their property to revegetation.

Coinciding with the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, the Australian Government released ‘Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030’.

When it was released the Government stated:  “The Strategy is a significant national policy document that will guide how governments, the community, industry and scientists manage and protect Australia’s plants, animals and ecosystems over the next 20 years”.

Natural Resource Management (NRM) is an important activity on most Australian farms, resulting in improved productivity and farm sustainability.  Farmers have actively adopted the principles of retain, restore and revegetate, thereby protecting, managing and enhancing biodiversity on grazing properties.

Research on farms in central and northern Victoria has demonstrated that grazing properties can achieve the twin goals of more profitability and better biodiversity.  This has been achieved through managing grazing properties to improve native vegetation.

The research showed that 15 of the 17 properties studied in two research projects would be able to increase their profitability if they adopted at least one practical change to farm management, such as deferred grazing of hill country over the summer months or establishing stock shelter through natural regeneration.

It is no surprise that the Landcare movement was created by farmers, in partnership with the conservation movement.  This valuable community-led activity is making a real difference on the ground right…

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