Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Brown and Green of Land Management

Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra has been brown recently. This tinge after a rain event demonstrates issues of land management and soil conservation in Australia.

Brown Water fills Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia

Land management is how humans look after the land. Everyone has land they look after. This includes your own backyard. Everyone also looks after their land differently. For example, you may be a really good gardener and you have beautiful flowers, vegetables and green grass. Your neighbor may not look after their garden so well. All the plants are dead and the grass looks thirsty. These are two different types of land management.  We could even say that 'the grass is greener on the other side'.

Differences in land management don't have to be just across the fence, but also State by State. Land management is spectacular to view from the air. Aerially viewing changes in colours, textures, water and vegetation all demonstrate changes in land management across the landscape. As my partner and I were flying from Canberra to Adelaide, I was tracing the Murray River. I could see some differences between the New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian border. This was mainly changes in the amount of bush close to The Murray and the size of paddocks. Then, there was a sharp divide in the landscape. Going North-South was a clear division in land management. To the east, thick vegetation, to the west, brown paddocks. It was the South Australian border.


View Larger Map
South Australian (left) and Victorian (right) Border (Murray-Sunset NP), south of the Murray River. You can see the difference in land management on the left and right hand side of the line.

How people manage their land not only how it visually looks, but can also affect the environment. Land management can come under a number of different responsibilities; backyards, parks, national parks, agriculture, road verges, mining, production forestry, etc. How we undertake all these responsibilities and manage the land, may affect the environment. Producing food, trees and minerals can all cause changes to the land. This includes the loss of vegetation, animals and changes to soil. Changes such as these can result in problems such as erosion, or the loss of soil into the environment. Loss of vegetation and changes to soil may make it prone to removal by wind or water. Loss of soil can result in water contamination, like that in Lake Burley Griffin. This type of management can cause health and environmental issues, and can impact on our lifestyles.

There are ways to manage land and look after the environment. Considering the environment when we manage land is important to ensure no environmental damage, health risks or loss of lifestyle. We can undertake practices that make sure that vegetation loss is kept minimal, animals flourish and soil is looked after. To make sure soil does not erode away, we plant lots of deep rooted vegetation. This includes bushes, trees and perennial grasses.  Soil disturbance for planting food and trees is also kept to a minimum using 'conservation tillage'. Using these techniques limits soil exposure to wind and rain, and maintains healthy soil on a farm and produces healthy green vegetation.


Just like the differences in backyards, you can see these differences between farms. The grass is greener on the side where they care for the environment.

Next time you are out for a drive or on a walk, have a look around. Is the grass greener on one side? What do you think they may be doing differently? How are they managing their land? What are they doing to make sure they look after the environment?

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