Assessment of the biodiversity, economic and productivity gains from exclusion fencing (QLD)

Summary

Substantial investments have been made into constructing pest-proof netting fences (‘cluster fences’) around multiple grazing properties in western Queensland. Effective control of many vertebrate pests (e.g. wild dogs, kangaroos, feral pigs and feral goats) is now possible across large areas, by denying immigration, offering widespread and substantial benefits to agriculture and the environment. Similar fences are proposed for more arid areas in southern rangelands of WA, but the optimal cluster size and likely benefits for particular land types and production systems are unknown. This project brings together and expands the scope of existing studies to inform future cluster fencing activities. 

Status

Commenced

Objectives

  1. Determine the cost-effectiveness of cluster fencing in the short and long term through the reduction in predation by wild dogs and reduced competition from kangaroos. This requires an assessment of the effectiveness of pest control as done by landholders, improvements in pasture production and, ultimately, improvements to livestock production, all relative to unfenced areas. This will draw on results of the subprojects below. 
  2. Determine the gains in livestock production from reduced predation and kangaroo competition resulting from cluster fencing. This involves collation and analysis of data on, for example, livestock weight gain, wool production, reproductive output, survival and injuries. It will also require evaluation of the relative contributions of kangaroos and livestock to grazing pressure. 
  3. Determine the economic benefits of cluster fencing for individual landholders and the broader community. The costs of constructing and maintaining the fences need to be determined as do the costs of managing pests in unfenced areas. 
  4. Identify practices and arrangements that strengthen collaborative management of cluster fences. 
  5. Estimate broad-scale changes in land condition, including vegetation biomass and composition, from a combination of regional modelling of pasture productivity and remotely sensed vegetation cover (satellite imagery). This will enable comparisons between areas inside cluster fences and areas that are unfenced. Estimates will be calibrated with empirical data from fixed field sites that are regularly recorded. If successful on intensively monitored clusters, the technique can be used for other clusters and under a range and mix of domestic, feral and native herbivore numbers. 
  6. Estimate broad-scale changes in the abundance and diversity of mammalian and avian taxa both directly and through linkages between biodiversity and land condition. 

Project Leader



Dr Joe Scanlan
Project Team
  • Dr Joe Scanlan, QDAF 
  • Dr Lee Allen, QDAF 
  • Dr Peter Elsworth, QDAF 
  • Bob Karfs, QDAF 
  • John Carter, QDES 
  • Dr Malcolm Kennedy, WA DPIRD 
  • Dr Peter Fleming, NSW DPI 
Project Partners
  • Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, (QDAF)  
  • Queensland Government Department of Department of Environment and Science (QDES) 
  • New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI)
  • Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA DPIRD) 
  • Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)
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