The Rangelands Monitoring Tool© has been developed by the Gascoyne Catchments Group to collect specific and consistent information at property and regional scale to document the historic and presently occurring change in the rangeland condition throughout the Gascoyne region. It provides landholders with a tool for observing their country’s condition so they have the ability to make more effective management decisions.
The GCG investigated a variety of alternative monitoring methods including David Tongway’s Landscape Function Analysis (LFA), Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries Stocktake® program, Grazing Land Management® and the Western Australian Rangeland Monitoring Systems (WARMS). Derived from the principles of these systems and utilising the Pasture Monitoring Sites approach to assessing & monitoring perennial species trends, the GCG has developed the Monitoring Tool using a value based approach to rangeland monitoring. This approach removes any subjective conclusions to rangelands trends and provides a generic methodolgy that can be utilised by landholders.
The system used in the Monitoring Tool classifies three components of rangeland health:
Each plant species within the Gascoyne has been nominated a value between 1 and 10, based on its environmental and commercial values. Four soil attributes taken from LFA have been nominated a value between 1 and 10, based on their contribution to soil stability, nutrient cycling and infiltration rates.
Three main types of rangeland erosion have been given a negative value between 0 and -10, based on their adverse impacts on soil stability, infiltration rates and nutrient cycling. These values were determined in consultation with Department of Agriculture and Food, Department of Environment and Conservation, the Pastoral Lands Board, CSIRO, University of Western Australia and Independent Lab Services.
The Rangelands Monitoring© Tool can achieve the goal of improving catchment wide rangeland health through education and empowering producers to make better decisions and tell the story along the way.