Integrated Land Use Approach – An Example Of Applying The “Vulnerability Paradigm”

There is an interesting concept in land management that relates directly to the integrated approach Climate Science has recommended with respect to the reduction of vulnerability (e.g. see) [and thanks to Ray Soper for alerting us to this!].

As Ray has written

“A pioneer in this part of the world is Peter Andrews.  A website  presents Peter’s ideas, and a forum for discussion.  Peter’s main proposition is that farming practices over the past 150 years in Australia have progressively dehydrated and degraded much of the country.  He argues that ploughing the soil, draining swamps, taking willows out of the rivers, monoculture farming practices, construction of dams everywhere has led to the systematic dehydration of the landscape.

He has developed strategies for rehydration, principally by restoring wetlands, swamps, floodplains by slowing down the water flows and keeping more of the water in the landscape.  As well, he respects nature’s strategies to rehabilitate degraded areas, and welcomes all vegetation (including what many of us call weeds) as part of that process.

Channel 9 presented a program on Peter that shows directly the beneficial results of his approaches.  I think that this work adds an important new angle to the ways in which mankind can assist in managing climate, which allied to the new findings that show that trees, like animals, have ‘thermostat’ systems that maintain temperatures within a close range, can change the way we approach the problems.

As written on a website that describes Natural Sequence Farming

Peter Andrews is a grazier and race horse breeder from Bylong in the Upper Hunter Valley. He is a man who many believe is way ahead of his time. Peter has gained fundamental insights to the natural functioning of the Australian landscape that leave him almost without peer. He has applied these insights in restoring his and other properties to fertility levels that he says existed upon European arrival in this country.

The model that Peter Andrews set up at Tarwyn Park was based on the principle of reintroducing natural landscape patterns and processes as they would have existed in Australia prior to European settlement. This included:

  • reintroduction of a natural valley flow pattern, reconnecting the stream to its flood plain, which would reintroduce a more natural hydrological and fertility cycle to that landscape.     

  • and that through a managed succession of the vegetation (mostly weeds back then), the natural fluvial pattern could be ‘regrown’, so that then nutrients and biomass harvested on the flood plain could be redistributed throughout the property and obviously through the stock.

This type of integrated approach to reduce vulnerability to environmental threats, including from climate variability and change, is to be commended and encouraged. Rather than relying exclusively on controlling atmospheric concentrations of CO2, a much more scientifically integrated approach is needed, as exemplified by the work of Peter Andrews.

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