Trees: How to balance productivity and biodiversity

Productivity v biodiversity: It’s closer than you think


Agribusiness
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT: S.Kidman & Co's former managing director Greg Campbell says the difference between maximum productivity in terms of grass production and maximum biodiversity is surprisingly close.

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT: S.Kidman & Co's former managing director Greg Campbell says the difference between maximum productivity in terms of grass production and maximum biodiversity is surprisingly close.

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Maximum grass production and maximum biodiversity are surprisingly close says former Kidman managing director Greg Campbell.

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THE former head of S.Kidman and Co says much of the heat would be removed from Queensland’s ongoing vegetation management debate if the impact of tree canopies were better understood.

Speaking at an Agribusiness Australia breakfast in Brisbane this morning (Tuesday), former Kidman managing director Greg Campbell said there was a sweet spot between maximum grass production and maximum biodiversity.

“There’s fairly robust research that suggests tree canopy cover above 12 or 14 per cent starts to compromise pasture growth. This is where thinning and reclearing start to become important,” Mr Campbell said.

There is a sweet spot of maximum production and maximum biodiversity. - Greg Campbell

“There is also some quite good emerging research that suggests biodiversity is maximised at canopy cover of about 20pc.

“That suggest there is a sweet spot of maximum production and maximum biodiversity somewhere between 12 and 20pc canopy cover.

“Surely good science can tighten up this range for the main vegetation communities and policy and regulation can be brought to match.”

Mr Campbell said for much of the country used for cattle production in Queensland, the management of trees was a critical.

“It’s a production necessity but its also a hot social and political topic,” Mr Campbell said.

“We have so much angst around this issue when really the two peak situations are not that far apart: the benefits to community through biodiversity and the benefits to industry through production.”  

The Palaszczuk government is expected to introduce controversial new vegetation management laws into Queensland Parliament sometime in March.

AgForce president Grant Maudsley said the government should work with farmers and avoid introducing harsh new regulations.

"Farmers only manage vegetation on our land to produce high-quality food and fibre that the state, the nation and the world demands," Mr Maudsley said.

"The laws that dictate what we can and can't do on our land have been divisive and constantly changing for the past two decades, with farmers left in a state of confusion about how we are to produce the high-quality food and fibre consumers demand.

"The Palaszczuk government has a once in a generation opportunity to show real leadership and work genuinely with those most affected by these laws to come up with a long-lasting solution to this issue.”

RELATED STORY: ‘Farmers: Time to end divisive debate on vegetation laws’.

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