Balanced management vital

Balance needed in vegetation debate


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Mungallala landholder, Bill Douglas, believes graziers need to be given an opportunity to restore balance through sound vegetation management.

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Bill Douglas cleared much of Mt Lonsdale, Mungallala, in the 1990s but left linked wildlife corridors to ensure continued biodiversity. Mr Douglas will host a vegetation workshop on Mt Lonsdale on October 29.

Bill Douglas cleared much of Mt Lonsdale, Mungallala, in the 1990s but left linked wildlife corridors to ensure continued biodiversity. Mr Douglas will host a vegetation workshop on Mt Lonsdale on October 29.

WHEN it comes to vegetation management, Mungallala’s Bill Douglas believes it is simply a question of balance.

“It’s my firm belief that when white man came we changed the balance of nature by taking away wildfires and introducing water to country that previously didn’t have permanent water,” Mr Douglas said.

“That has thrown the native vegetation and kangaroo numbers out of balance.

“We created that imbalance and we need to be given the opportunity to restore it.”

Working in partnership with his wife Cecily and their son and daughter-in-law, Rowan and Laura, Mr Douglas operates an EU-accredited beef operation on the 8000ha Mt Lonsdale, 14km north of Mungallala.

The family also owns the 24,000ha Mulga block, Aqua Downs, 90km south of Morven.

Mr Douglas carefully cleared “about 80 percent” of Mt Lonsdale in the mid 1990s.

“We didn’t just clear from one side of the place to the other,” he said.

“We left areas for wildlife corridors that linked up with the 20pc of vegetation left untouched. That has been successful - we have had various people out here monitoring the ecology and they tell us the ecological environment is alive and well.” 

Aqua Downs runs 1000 breeders that largely live on low Mulga while supplemented year-round with urea and phosphorus. When seasons turn dry, the Douglas’ use fodder permits to harvest mulga with two tractors and a chain.

Mr Douglas hasn’t been impressed with some of the stipulations of the new fodder permits.

“Under the old system we were able to pull strips of about 300m wide and then leave strips of 100m which meant that you were leaving 25pc of the country,” Mr Douglas said.

“Now you are only allowed to clear 135m and then you have to leave 165m under a self-assessable code. It’s harder to manage and it makes us nervous that we might make a mistake.”

Together with QMDC, the Douglas family will host a vegetation workshop on Mt Lonsdale on October 29.

Participants will hear an overview of reforms to legislation, the thinning code and the benefits of biodiversity.

Guest speakers include DNRM Officers Jeremy Cahill and Andrew Coulsell and Col Paton, Landcare Biodiversity Monitoring Project.

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