CMA demise – a positive for local koala challenge

The announcement from NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson that Catchment Management Authorities,  Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA) and other agricultural advisers are to be combined into “Local Land Services” may be a positive step for koalas.

According to the Minsiter  “Local Land Services will see the end of multiple agencies providing unco-ordinated, highly duplicative, inequitable and unnecessarily expensive services to farmers and regional landowners. The current structures are stifling innovation, reducing productivity and making it harder for farmers and landowners to manage their land.”

While it will take some time for the boundaries of the LLS’s to be determined, it’s clear the current Southern Rivers CMA is far too big and the easiest approach would seem to start with the bioregion and move down to sub-bioregions and smaller if necessary.

In the Minister’s presentation she suggests ‘ . . using the knowledge and experience of local communites and landholders to improve the productivity of primary industries and protect our natural resources.’

Part of the European agricultural heritage comes from a Scottish term ‘sowm’, meaning how much pasture a cow or its equivalent in sheep requires, what’s now called stock carrying capacity .The LHPA makes these estimates to determine how much landholders pay for their service.

In a forest context the presence and density of those particular native species that are critical for forest health plays a large part in maintaining suitable koala habitat and determining the koala carrying capacity of the habitat.

A challenge for the new LLS’s, given they will take over the planting of the ‘koala friendly corridors’, will be whether they can artificially reproduce the soil conditions these species provided for free, so the trees they plan on cleared land will support koalas.

Another could be the idea of saving what there is and that re-introducing those particular species that are locally and regionally extinct would help maintain koala habitat and assist with understanding of what a native forest sowm should be.

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