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CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, P.O. Box 84, Lyneham, ACT 2602.

Is there is a balance between wildlife conservation in western New South Wales and any other land management there? The answer is a resounding NO! The ecological functioning of the region is dominated by introduced systems of herbivory and predation: sheep; rabbits; feral goats; their partial heritage, the increased abundance of kangaroos; and the predator-prey complex of foxes, feral cats and rabbits. Conservation can only have what is left over. Even on National Parks where there is no sheep grazing, the rest of the unbalancing complement of herbivores and predators is in place.

The removal of dingoes has been part of the destabilising process. Where dingoes remain on the South Australian side of the Border Fence, there are few red kangaroos, no feral goats, and foxes are not so prevalent as in adjacent New South Wales. It would be no solution to release dingoes back into New South Wales because those species are now so abundant.

How can balance be regained in western New South Wales? Pest species will have to be controlled; but it is not simply a matter of removing the offending animals and re-introducing the vanished (if extant). Firstly, key habitats for species must be identified and the vital ecological resources restored within them. Historical information may help in doing so. Because ecosystems have been so changed, the programme of restoration may have to begin from the ground up, i.e., with soils and vegetation.

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