Australia’s travelling stock routes and their uncertain future

By Joern Fischer

A PhD student I co-supervised in Australia recently handed in her thesis on Australia’s travelling stock routes — Pia Lentini. Pia worked on birds, bats and bees in and next to the stock routes of New South Wales. Her thesis is now being reviewed.

What are stock routes? They are a historical network of corridors that criss-cross eastern Australia; originally established to move livestock through the landscape before there were trucks. Now, they have a bunch of heritage values (social and ecological), and could substantially complement the existing reserve network. Unlike existing reserves, stock routes often traverse low-lying parts of the landscape because livestock needed access to watercourses. At present, the future of stock routes is far from certain, and they may in fact be sold off by the government to private landholders — which very likely would mean they would gradually lose their biodiversity (and other heritage) values.

The main purpose of this blog entry is to direct you to a recent editorial that Pia published in Decision Point — a policy-relevant weekly magazine in Australia about applied conservation research. In the editorial Pia suggests that “It would appear that the interim efforts to raise awareness, provide evidence, and suggest alternative options have been in vain.” You can read her editorial here.

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One thought on “Australia’s travelling stock routes and their uncertain future

  1. Interesting post. Maintaining connected landscapes and wide regions I is ok when climate change will accelerate in order to allow populations of various species to shift. I read about this in many papers. I just wonder if such a (massive?) shift will occur what will happen…with the ‘native’ species which will be invaded? Possible ‘they will not be happy’, and some major chnages in their communities are expected (e.g. at the levels of sp composition, resilience, ecos services). Even this wide scale connectivity (even if this work well from some species) will probably have its loosers – e.g. from the ‘other end’ of the corridor. I could agree even with those who say ‘we need to control these large scale movements’ e.g. by ‘fragmenting’ these potential massive movements. I am a bit uncertain about these complicated problems.

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