Pastoral Lease Assessment Manual

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Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)PASTORAL LEASE ASSESSMENTTECHNICAL TRAINING MANUAL (2011)Revised Technical Manual for the second round of assessments ofpastoral leases in South Australia, 2005 - 2015, Pastoral Program,DENRi

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)PASTORAL LEASE ASSESSMENTTECHNICAL MANUALTechnical detail for the methods to be used for the secondround of pastoral assessments in SA.2005 - 2015Version 3This version prepared for use as part of the training of new Assessmentstaff.PASTORAL LAND MANAGEMENT GROUPDENRLatest update: 26 August, 2011ii

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThis document is based on manuals written for the first (baseline) assessment program, by Rodger Tynanwhen the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act came into operation in 1989. It was up-dated byJack White to reflect the procedures undertaken during the latter part of first round of Pastoral leaseassessment between 1995 and 2000.Refinements and changes to the detailed elements of the assessment methods resulted from input from allmembers of the Pastoral Group, particularly during “field calibration” exercises in the early years of theprogram. Regular contact with interstate counterparts, particularly in NT and WA, has helped the groupformulate robust methods which have at least some common attributes with monitoring systems used inthese other jurisdictions.Those that contributed to and participated in the assessment process between 1990 and 2000 included –Geoff Axford, Dennis Barber, Rick Barratt, Andrew Bateman, Craig Baulderstone, Jenny Bourne, AmandaBrook, Tonia Brown, John Chappel, Ben Della Torre, Guy Edwards, Mike Fleming, Paul Gould, LouisaHalliday, Justin Jay, Frank Kutsche, Brendan Lay, Vicki Linton, John McDonald, John Maconochie, ChrisTurner, Merri Tothill, Rodger Tynan and Jack White.The 2007 assessment team, Adrian Friedel, Simone Lawson, Emma Kinnane, David Oag and Jeff Stringerhave made comments and contributed to the 2007 version of this training manual.The current assessment and inspection team of Craig Baulderstone, Gavin Baird, Augie Facelli, JohnMaconochie, David Oag, Andrew Sheath, Jeff Stringer, Chris Turner and Carolyn Woods have continued toreview the methodology and clarify the information in this document Methods are still essentially consistentwith those originally used but with clarification in text.iii

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)CONTENTSACKNOWLEDGMENTS . IIIINTRODUCTION . 1NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (NRM) BOARDS. 2LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS . 2Objectives of the Act . 2Tenure provisions . 2Assessment of land condition . 2FACTORS INFLUENCING THE METHODS USED FOR THE BASELINE ASSESSMENT IN THE FIRSTROUND. 3Soil Conservation Districts . 3Baseline assessment timetable and resource restrictions . 3Lessee involvement in monitoring . 4PREPARATION FOR AN ASSESSMENT TRIP. 6MEETING WITH LESSEES/MANAGERS . 6First Meeting . 6Final Meeting . 7DESCRIPTION OF METHODOLOGY USED IN THE BASELINE ASSESSMENTS . 7Land system mapping . 7Lease infrastructure . 7Monitoring . 8Paddock condition. 8Lease Assessment Reports. 8Capacity of the land to carry stock. 9LAND CONDITION INDEX .10PHOTOPOINTS .10Access and relocation of existing photopoints (finding the site) .11NEW PHOTOPOINTS .11Choosing the location for a new photopoint. .11Distance from water .11Representation of a land unit.11Size and uniformity .12Other influencing factors .12PHOTOPOINT SETUP.12TAKING THE PHOTOGRAPH .13RECORDING FIELD INFORMATION .14SITE DESCRIPTION AND LOCATION .14VEGETATION .17VERTEBRATES.19JESSUP TRANSECT .20Transect layout .20Recording a Jessup transect .21DATABASE AND GIS – NEEDS UPDATE FOR ALIS AND FDE.23POST TRIP PROCEEDURE .23LIST OF FIGURESFIGURE 1: MAP OF PASTORAL LEASES WITHIN SOUTH AUSTRALIA . 5FIGURE 2: STATION PADDOCK PLAN . 8FIGURE 3: DIAGRAM OF A TYPICAL RANGELAND MONITORING SITE.12FIGURE 4: DIRECTIONS FOR TAKING THE PHOTOGRAPH .13FIGURE 5: JESSUP TRANSECT LAYOUT .21LIST OF TABLESTABLE 1: VERTEBRATE PESTS .19iv


Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)INTRODUCTIONSouth Australia‟s Pastoral Leasehold lands cover some 44 million hectares (443 384 km²) and includes 321Pastoral Leases which are amalgamated into 220 properties or „runs‟. The 2225 km long dingo fence stretchesacross the rangelands and separates the dingo free sheep leases to the south from the cattle leases in the north.The rangelands comprise spectacular ranges (Flinders and Gawlers), sand dunes, gibber and alluvial plains andtablelands. Vegetation types range from mulga tall shrubland to chenopod shrubland (saltbush and bluebush)and grasslands. Rainfall is generally less than 250 mm per year that is highly variable and unpredictable withevaporation generally exceeding 2250 mm per year.The Pastoral Land Management Group is a unit within, Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It isresponsible for the administration of the Pastoral Leases (by direction from the Pastoral Board) under statutoryprovisions of the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act, 1989. This group undertakes surveillance(Pastoral Inspection), assessment and monitoring of the pastoral and other arid lands in this State.The assessment method developed in South Australia for determining land condition employs standardisedcriteria and sampling routines consistent with State legislation and provides a scientific assessment of the landcondition of properties within a district. The information provides the Pastoral Board with an objective basis uponwhich to consider stocking levels and other factors that affect land condition on pastoral leases. Photo standardsprovide an accurate standardised record of the criteria used to determine the various condition classes, and thesurvey can therefore be repeated in the next 14-year assessment period using consistent standards. Theprocess is objective, relatively simple, easily demonstrated to pastoralists, and has wide potential application toother rangeland areas.The methods were developed during the late 1980‟s in anticipation of the new Pastoral legislation. Somecomponents are based on WARMS (Western Australian Rangeland Monitoring System) methods.At the time of initial assessment, the photopoint manuals contained most of the photopoint sites, includingold pastoral inspectors “opportune” photos which had been relocated. However an objective indication oftrends in land condition, which can be related to current management strategies on each lease is onlypossible after subsequent re-monitoring from the original 1990‟s baseline. It was assumed at the time that atleast one or more re-takes of photopoints and data would be carried out in the 14 year period betweenassessments of any one property. This has not occurred and trends will have to be determined from manysequences based on two observations 14 years apart. Any trends revealed can then be used to supplementthe Land Condition Index (LCI) survey findings, as the LCI will also be repeated during this second roundexercise.Any repeat photos of these sites by Pastoralists or pastoral inspectors will indicate effects of seasonalchanges and will assist in directing their focus towards the land resources, rather than on stock condition.The whole assessment process must be repeated every 14 years under the Act. Consequently, at the timethe first version of this manual was written, it was noted that the original methodology should be followed, sothat subsequent surveys can repeat these measurements to provide the objective basis on which todetermine trends in rangeland condition.Land Condition Index surveys were commenced in the Kingoonya Soil Board District in 1990. Separate LCImanuals detail the methods and photo-standards to be used in each former Soil Board district, now knownas NRM Group districts.Pastoralist involvement in the assessment process and ongoing monitoring is seen as an importantcomponent in achieving long-term 'land care' ideals and the methodology that has been developed seeks toencourage land manager input.1

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (NRM) BOARDSThe District Soil Conservation Boards in the late 1980‟s were a relatively recent development in the pastorallands, at the time of the first round of lease assessment.These Boards have been “transformed” into district NRM Groups of the SA Arid Lands or Murray DarlingNRM Board. All areas are now covered by NRM Boards recently established under the Natural ResourcesManagement Act of 2004. Appendix 13 shows the Board boundaries across SA. The Pastoral LandManagement Group provides information about the district's resources so that the NRM Group can provideinput to the NRM planning processes that seeks to encourage sustainable land management objectives.LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTSThe Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act, 1989, provides the mandate for the assessmentprocess and the methodology has been developed to comply with the specific requirements of the Act.Objectives of the ActThe Objects (Section 4) and other sections of the PLM&C Act provide the legal charter and instructionsabout what is required of an assessment of the land.The PLM&C Act (the Act), has the following land care objectives:to ensure that all pastoral land in the State is well managed and utilised prudently so that itsrenewable resources are maintained and its yield sustainedto provide for the effective monitoring of the condition of pastoral land; the prevention of degradation ofthe land and its indigenous plant and animal life; and the rehabilitation of the land in cases of damage.The Act defines degradation of the land as "a decline in the quality of the natural resources of the landresulting from human activities on the land". Rehabilitation of degraded land means "to bring the land back toat least the condition it was in before its degradation, having particular regard to its capacity to carry stockand its level of soil stability".Pastoral leaseholders also have a duty (Section 7) to use good land management practices, preventdegradation of the land and to endeavour, within the limits of financial resources, to improve the condition ofthe land. They also have related and more explicit duties in connection with the Soil Conservation and LandCare Act, 1989. These duties have, in general terms been included in the Natural Resources Management(NRM) Act 2004, which will now replaces the Soil Conservation legislationTenure provisionsTenure provisions under the Act include a 'rolling' 42 year lease, whereby the lease is assessed to determineits land condition every 14 years. Provided the lessee has not wilfully breached a condition of the leaseresulting in, or likely to result in, degradation of the land, then the lease term is topped up from the remaining28 years to a full 42 years. Land management conditions of the lease may also be varied every 14 years.Section 43 of the Act provides for further protection of the land whereby the Board may direct the lessee totake action to prevent degradation of the land, e.g. to destock certain paddocks. There is no right of appealunder this section.Assessment of land conditionTo be defensible in a legal sense (e.g. if contested under the jurisdiction of the Pastoral Land Tribunal) themethodology used to assess land condition must strictly follow the directions of the Act.The Act specifies (Section 6) that the assessment of the condition of the land must:2

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)be thoroughinclude an assessment of the capacity of the land to carry stockbe conducted in accordance with recognised scientific principlesbe carried out by persons who are qualified and experienced in land assessment techniques.The Objects refer to the indigenous plant and animal life, consequently there is a requirement to assess atthe plant species level to determine to what degree the indigenous plant communities have been degradedor removed. It is important to note that replacement of indigenous species by introduced species is anexample of degradation under this Act. Additionally, the composition of indigenous communities may bedegraded under stock grazing by the replacement of palatable perennial plants with less palatable nativespecies.A draft assessment report on the condition of the land comprising each “run” (management unit) must becompleted. Under the second round process, the initial report preparation is carried out by the field assessorteams. The Pastoral Board will consider the report together with any comments from the lessee, beforesetting the lease conditions.Updating of the photopoint manual is required. The capture of spatial data for any new lease infrastructure(using vehicle-mounted downloadable GPS units) will occur at the same time as the fieldwork for the leaseassessment, as the paddock plans produced during the first round process have proven most useful to thelessees and managers of these properties.FACTORS INFLUENCING THE METHODS USED FOR THE BASELINE ASSESSMENTIN THE FIRST ROUNDSoil Conservation DistrictsSoil Conservation Districts set up in the pastoral lands under the Soil Conservation and Land Care Act, 1989,required Soil Boards to prepare a District Plan that seeks to provide land management guidelines for thedistrict. The Pastoral Board agreed to provide support to these Boards by providing land system maps anddescriptions, and general vegetation management guidelines for the district. The baseline assessmentprocess therefore included a land inventory component that provided land system descriptions for eachdistrict.Baseline assessment timetable and resource restrictionsThe baseline assessment of all leases was completed in September 2000. This involved assessingapproximately 405,000 km² of country that comprises the 330 pastoral leases (see Figure 1). The processalso involved: Gathering geographic information which would enable the creation or update of pastoral plans showinglease infrastructure e.g. fence lines, watersprovide hardcopy maps (paddock plans) of each leaseSetting up a paddock- based, and long-term photopoint monitoring system.compile field data using site sheets for input to a database and GISAssess land condition using the Land Condition Index methodology on all sheep leases south of the DogFence.Even at the time of the first baseline assessments, the resource requirements imposed by the huge task ofvisiting every paddock of every lease in the 10 year timeframe continually governed and influenced whatcould actually be undertaken. As a consequence, in the latter years of the baseline assessments, variouschanges to the methods occurred to enable a revised legislative deadline of December 2000 to be met. (theoriginal time specified in the Act for completion of assessments was March 1998 – this was extended in thatyear by legislative amendment)3

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)Lessee involvement in monitoringThe monitoring process is aimed at increasing the awareness of lessees in managing the land resource andfocuses on plant and soil resources to determine trends in condition under grazing practices. A significantthough small number of pastoral managers have become involved in the monitoring process since thebaseline assessments, and have retaken photos at photopoints to monitor seasonal or short-term changes,or effects of stock management practices.The first training lease Coondambo, for the second round process in 2005, is one such property where themanager has regularly revisited and photographed the photopoint sites.4

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)Figure 1: Map of pastoral leases within South Australia5

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)PREPARATION FOR AN ASSESSMENT TRIPThe following check list should be completed prior to each trip:Contact lessee/manager To arrange a time and location to meet at the beginning of the field trip (Act states 28 days notice) Discuss potential accommodation, availability of fuel (if required).Collect property information Copy of first assessment report from Pastoral Land Management Group (PLMG), Adelaide Paddock write-ups, site revisit and pastoral inspection sheets from ALIS Blank sheets for new photopoints and upload Getacs (ALIS) Blank Jessup sheets LCI transect, measure of distance and list of stops generated Map updates Photopoint manual Recent stock return and past inspection reports Property docket (optional for extra information) Land system and paddock plan mapsPhotopoint Equipment· 100 m surveyor tape, with clearly visible and fixed 10 m markers and ties both ends.· sledge hammer· 2 m measuring rod· jarrah pegs, poly posts, rebar or other markersPhotopoint/camera box with: numbered photopoint discs nails for securing disc to marker peg site description and species list sheets. Jessup transect recording sheet digital camera, all batteries charged sighting compass hand counters (at least 2) inclinometerOther equipment Clipboards and elastic bands, Pencils and sharpener Reference books e.g. plant books Charged computer/Getac for GPS data Hand held GPS, cleared of data from previous trips Inverter checked Water tanks filled Ropes Plastic bags Cooking kit Food FridgeMEETING WITH LESSEES/MANAGERSFirst MeetingExplain the assessment process, answer any questions and invite them to participate.Discuss: Infrastructure changes Seasonal conditions e.g. rainfall, fire Problem areas/issues Future plans General management including paddock use, changes to management, feral animal numbers andkangaroo numbers6

Pastoral Lease Assessment Technical Manual for the Second round (2011)Availability of station facilities e.g. shearers quarters, places to camp, places to avoidRadio frequency to contact themPhotopoints updated e.g. have they been taking photos, do they have a Photopoint manual?Final MeetingCross reference map items and do final check that everything has been up dated.Discuss:· Problem areas, get their perspective and plans they have to address problems· Make sure they are aware of negative comments likely to be in the report, giving them the opportunity todiscuss· Next stage of the process and give them contact details of who they can speak to· Get their preferred contact details e.g. email, phone etc.DESCRIPTION OF METHODOLOGY USED IN THE BASELINE ASSESSMENTSLand system mappingThis involved identifying landscape patterns on remotely sensed images and describing the units that make upthis pattern in the field. Land System boundaries were digitised and transferred to ARC/INFO to form a graphicalbase for a GIS. Land systems descriptions and boundaries are checked during the assessment process. Acoloured land system map for each station accompanies the lease assessment report.Lease infrastructureDuring the assessment process the layout of the lease is discussed with the Pastoralist and any changes,such as new water point, fence line or track developments, that are not included on existing maps, are noted.These details are then checked in the field and accurately located using a Global Positioning Unit (GPS) anduse of Getac. Amendments are then made to the digitised files to update the paddock plans (see figure 2)and the GIS.Waypoints of features and tracking of line features for updating of mapping products will be made by the fieldassessors in the second round, this includes both new and existing infrastructure, not previously captured.7

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)Figure 2: Station paddock planMonitoringA monitoring baseline has been established in each paddock. This consists of a photopoint and a plantspecies list with associated data. Fixed belt transects have been used to collect ecological data. This iscompiled into a “photopoint manual” and the lessee is given a copy and encouraged to photographicallymonitor the sites. These sites are usually located on water runs to enable the Pastoralist to inspect the siteson a regular basis. It was planned these sites would be re-measured by the Pastoral Management Branchevery 5-7 years (depending on resources), but in reality only sites in “priority paddocks” have been revisitedat this order of frequency.All previously-established photopoints which can be re-located will be revisited and re-measured. Everyattempt should be made to relocate photopoints but if not possible new sites will be installed.Plate 1: Pastoralist involvement in the assessment processPaddock conditionThe assessment process also describes the condition of each paddock within a lease and identifies any landmanagement issues that require attention. This information is entered into the database so that a history foreach paddock within a district is developed.Paddocks that require immediate attention or action are detailed in the assessment report for the Board.These “priority paddocks” are inspected on a more regular basis, and the lessee must make progresstowards rectifying the identified land management problems. “Monitor paddocks” are identified where lessimmediate attention is required or where issues should be monitored by lessees and the PLMG.Lease Assessment ReportsA lease Assessment Report is the formal document that provides details of the assessment of the landcondition over the “run”. These reports are forwarded to the lessees, who have 60 days to consider andcomment. The Board then considers all comments and accepts the report.On completion of a district and all LCI scores analysed, the Board will set the land management conditions ofthe lease, which includes a maximum stocking level. The lessee may apply to the Pastoral Board at any timefor a temporary increase above this maximum. Land management conditions may be adjusted and the termof the lease extended if the lessee has complied with the lease conditions and fulfilled a duty to improve thecondition of the land.8

Pastoral Lease AssessmentTechnical Manual for the Second round (2011)The report provides pastoralists or other land managers with information to ensure sound land managementpractices are followed. These reports provide details of a monitoring system that will supply the land userwith reliable, interpretable and repeatable information to detect changes that result from land use practices(rangeland condition and trend).Capacity of the land to carry stockThe Pastoral Board is required to specify a maximum stocking level for the lease and the lessee is notpermitted to exceed this figure without the prior permission of the Board. Stock maxima determined underthe previous Act (Pastoral Act 1936) did not include an assessment of the condition of the land and wereoften set at inappropriate levels. The previous maximum figure has long been represented by the pastoralindustry as the actual carrying capacity of the lease.The Objects of the Act specify that the Pastoral Board must ensure that degradation does not, or is not likelyto occur. Maximum stocking levels for a lease are far from ideal as an effective method for ensuring thatpastoral land is not degraded as they do not provide for stocking levels in individual paddocks under a rangeof condition classes and pasture components.Plate 2: Fenceline contrast resulting from different management practicesThe evidence for appropriate long term stocking levels must come primarily from:· what the land has carried in the past without severe degradation;· what successful management practices have been implemented for various pasture types,· how management practices generally are related to the present land condition.For the first round of assessments, the

Pastoral Lease Assessment Technical Manual for the Second round (2011) ii PASTORAL LEASE ASSESSMENT TECHNICAL MANUAL Technical detail for the methods to be used for the second round of pastoral assessments in SA. 2005 - 2015 Version 3 This version prepared for use as part of the training of new Asse

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