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*Grazier, Ivanhoe, NSW 2878.

The Western Division of New South Wales occupies an area of 32 million hectares, being the most arid 40 per cent of the State with average annual rainfall ranging from 475 mm in the north-east corner to 150 mm in the far north-west corner. Pastoral settlement took place in the period between the 1830s and the late 1870s. Along with the adjoining area in South Australia, the land and vegetative resource was devastated over a large percentage of the area by the combination of rabbit plagues, high stock numbers, severe economic depression and prolonged drought at the turn of the century.

Evidence to the Royal Commission of 1901 provides a graphic description of huge areas windswept and scalded, with sand drift covering fences, water troughs, stockyards and even silting up earthen tanks. Extensive areas of perennial shrubs, the saltbushes and bluebushes, often on the more erodible soils, were wiped out.

However, a combination of influences dating from the early 1950s has brought about a remarkable recovery, with most seriously eroded areas now regenerated, with parallel improvement in the recovery of perennial grasses and shrubs.

However, the re-appearance of the rabbit, the invasion of much of the northern half of the region by woody weeds and the destruction of small native animals and birds by foxes and feral cats, and the destruction of habitat by feral pigs and goats, will reduce the benefits of this recovery unless these adverse factors can be brought under control.

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