A Proposition For Change

Some of the content in the following 8-part series was presented in a letter to the Premier of South Australia and the Opposition Leader in February 2014 in the lead-up to the state election. A copy of the letter was also sent to The Greens and to Family First.

A response was sought from each political party on the following questions.

Do you and your party believe that broad scale revegetation of agricultural land is needed in South Australia?

Will your government/your party support in every way possible a landscape-scale concept that has the best chance of averting the worst that climate change is predicted to bring to rural South Australia?


Two simple questions. The purpose was to see if politicians in South Australia have an understanding (let alone a vision) of the rural regions and the dire scenarios confronting rural people in the future. 

So let's see what it's all about.

Part 1

Setting the Scene 

In the many reports in the public domain on natural resources, biodiversity, and the environment, there is a distinct problem with language and meaning. Many of these reports contain discussions about “maintaining” systems, or “conservation” of remnant ecosystems. 

The reports are of systems 'as they are now' not as they need to be. It is the easy acceptance of what exists now that is troubling - it is a state of mind, a belief system nurtured from an economic growth imperative.

All of us must move away from seeing the agricultural landscape as it exists now as the norm, to visualising the landscape as it ought to be in terms of real sustainability for all ecosystems and human productive systems.

And that is the theme of this series. 

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

We all know that rain and suitable climate are required for agriculture. Of the 13% of the area of South Australia that is suitable for agriculture (i.e. cropping and grazing) 76% has been cleared of native vegetation. This figure has been extracted from the latest State of the Environment 2013 report. We'll come to that later.

From the large amount of information available today in the public domain about the link between deforestation and climate, and deforestation and species decline, there is a common conclusion that land cover change has been an important factor in regional climate change. 

Two vital discoveries have emerged in recent years from research - the “biotic pump” effect of large tracts of vegetation, and hotter air temperatures as a result of greater heat flow from cleared land surfaces. (For a quick overview go here to Ecos).

Couple this discovery with global climate change (i.e. anthropogenic forcing) and the situation for Australia, and importantly for us here in South Australia, is of very great concern. 

The future for agriculture in South Australia is at risk of contraction because of climate change (ref. Climate Change Adaptation Framework), and particularly because of rainfall decline. 

This scenario can be limited, if not negated, by a bold and different approach.The case for re-forestation on a large scale is more than just about trees. It’s about a new agri-economy.

But there has to be a change in the mindset of politicians, farmers, land-owners, and the general community. Before change can happen there has to be an acceptance of the need for it.

And THAT is what this series will attempt to illustrate.

Let's see what some of the problems are. 

Part 2 --> Deficient Labor and Liberal policies

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