5 Land | 4 Effectiveness of land management
State of the Environment 2011 Committee. Australia state of the environment 2011.
Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011.
Most of Australia’s land environment is managed by one of three groups: state and territory agencies responsible for public land of various tenures, family and corporate agricultural and pastoral businesses, and Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government and local governments manage smaller, but significant, areas. Private landowners manage many small peri-urban and rural properties, primarily for lifestyle rather than farming purposes. Various forms of co-management have emerged, particularly between governments and Indigenous communities for conservation.
The management of any particular area of land depends on its tenure and the objectives of the owner or manager—subject to regulatory, knowledge, information and resource constraints. The management objectives of almost all public land are now formally documented in management plans, which are generally subject to public comment and review processes. Many private property owners, and some areas of Indigenous land, also have documented management plans. Management of Indigenous lands is reviewed in Box 5.1.
In this section, we discuss management effectiveness in terms of factors that underpin management of the land environment generally: governance and institutional arrangements, levels of investment, the knowledge and information base, and capacity. In Assessment summary 5.8, we assess management effectiveness in relation to each of the major pressures on the land environment and the major land uses identified in Section 3. Although many aspects of management effectiveness are improving in most sectors, the key issue is whether the rate of improvement is sufficient to meet the environmental challenges facing each sector and region.
At a glance
Governance and institutional arrangements for management of the land environment have changed significantly since 2006, and do not yet appear optimal in a number of important respects.
Although substantial, levels of investment remain inadequate in management of the land environment, and in the research and development programs and knowledge and information systems that underpin good land management.
There is already a serious gap in both the professional and the technical capacity necessary for effective land management. This gap will increase and its consequences become more acute as we face the challenges that climate change will bring to land environmental values and production systems.
The effectiveness of our management of the land environment varies with land use and the nature of the pressures on the land environment. Because of the nature of widespread landscape-scale pressures and resource constraints, it is often difficult to manage more extensive land uses and pressures as effectively as we would wish. As a consequence, management outcomes for many forms of land use and in response to many pressures are trending downward.