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*Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University, NSW 2109.

After 150 years of European occupation, the landscapes of semi-arid western New South Wales have changed substantially. The fundamental cause is grazing by domestic stock, and attempts by graziers to survive financially. Comparison of early survey plans with contemporary surveys of “Myall”, a typical sheep property near Wilcannia, are used to determine the nature of changes and their magnitude. Overall, no changes can be detected even though they probably occurred. However, at least 20000 posts were used to fence the property. Extrapolating to the entire Western Division, this represents about 107 posts and a similar number of trees killed. Continued grazing of domestic stock at currently acceptable levels is effectively preventing regeneration of many trees and shrubs. Given that future expansion of national parks and nature reserves is limited politically, off-reserve conservation on grazing properties will be essential. However, the present and likely future financial position of most graziers is so parlous, that this is the most pressing issue for nature conservation.

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