Can We Integrate Nature Conservation with Agricultural Production

  • Saunders D
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The wheatbelt of southwestern Australia has experienced extensive clearing of native vegetation to develop wheat and sheep farms. Subsequent farming practices have produced major changes to ecosystem processes; extensive degradation of soils, losses of native species of plants and animals, and introductions of exotic species. Agricultural productivity has also been adversely affected. There is now widespread community concern about the detrimental changes taking place and the need to tackle landscape reconstruction to reverse processes leading to landscape degradation. Nearly half of the bird species recorded from the wheatbelt have declined in range and/or abundance as a result of changes in the landscape over the past 80-100 years. The conservation of many species that remain in remnant native vegetation in these agricultural landscapes depends on the retention, management, and in some cases reconstruction of suitable habitat, on farms rather than on the widely scattered nature reserves. Wildlife conservation will only be successful in these landscapes if nature conservation becomes an integral part of farm management and if that management is applied over the entire agricultural landscape, not just at the level of the individual farm. This paper discusses the approach being developed in southwestern Australia to integrate nature conservation and soil conservation into farm management at the landscape district level.

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  • D A Saunders

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