Alex has a variety of teaching and research interests around environmental management, rural land use sustainability and innovation. He teaches subjects on creative intelligence and complexity and has previously taught on environmental management, sustainable engineering and renewable energy policy. His research focuses on community engagement and policy options for emerging practices that offer potential environmental benefits. He is currently undertaking research with the NSW Department of Primary Industries on the co-benefits of carbon farming and with colleagues in the UTS Business School on the social licence of the sharing economy. Recently completed projects cover landholder collaboration for landscape-scale conservation, revegetation strategies and low-carbon tourism. In 2016 he released his first book, exploring ways in which the production of woody bioenergy crops can create incentives to restore degraded land, while addressing concerns around food security and climate change. His research has been published in the Journal of Environmental Management, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Science and Policy, Biomass and Bioenergy, Ecological Management and Restoration, Rural Society, The Rangeland Journal and Australian Zoologist.
Prior to joining UTS, Alex was based at UNSW for 10 years, teaching a range of subjects and working on research projects on landholder collaboration, low-carbon tourism and revegetation. From 2005 to 2008 he worked on the FATE (Future of Australia's Threatened Ecosystems) Program looking at commercial uses for Australian native species that could contribute to conservation goals, including kangaroos in the rangelands and multi-species plantations for bioenergy and other products. Prior to this, he spent three years at the Department of Environment and Heritage in Canberra (which has since undergone at least two name changes), working on international trade in wild plants and animals. His undergraduate studies were undertaken in Environmental Science at the University of Wollongong.
Research grants held:
1. A decision support tool to enhance carbon farming opportunities (2018-19).
Funding body: NSW Department of Primary Industries - $83,950
2. Increasing landholder collaboration for landscape scale conservation (2016-18).
Funding body: NSW Environmental Trust (Environmental Research Grant) - $149,435
3. Low Carbon Tourism: Building Sustainable Communities (2013-16).
Funding body: Cooperative Research Centre for Low-Carbon Living - $252,200
4. Optimising revegetation management for Regent Honeyeater recovery (2013-16).
Funding body: NSW Environmental Trust (Restoration/Rehabilitation Grant) - $89,380
5. Potential new bioenergy agroforestry systems for the NSW Central Tablelands (2010-12). Funding bodies: Forest Industries Climate Change Research Fund (DAFF/RIRDC) - $143,700
6. Environmental and Social Issues of Bioenergy (2010). Funding body: NSW Government Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (commissioned report) - $25,500
7. Barrier Ranges Sustainable Wildlife Enterprise Trial (2006-10). Funding body: RIRDC (Sustainable Wildlife Enterprises program) - $205,645
Can supervise: YES
- Social licence to operate
- Innovative practices that combine agricultural production and the restoration of degraded land
- Participatory social research
- Renewable energy (particularly cellulosic energy crops)
- Adoption of low-carbon technologies and practices
- Revegetation techniques using Australian native species
- Conservation through sustainable use approaches involving native plants and wildlife
© 2016 Alex Baumber. All rights reserved. The growing of crops for bioenergy has been subject to much recent criticism, as taking away land which could be used for food production or biodiversity conservation. This book challenges some commonly-held ideas about biofuels, bioenergy and energy cropping, particularly that energy crops pose an inherent threat to ecosystems, which must be mitigated. The book recognises that certain energy crops (e.g. oil palm for biodiesel) have generated sustainability concerns, but also asks the question "is there a better way?" of using energy crops to strategically enhance ecosystem functions. It draws on numerous case studies, including where energy crops have had negative outcomes as well as well as cases where energy crops have produced benefits for ecosystem health, such as soil and water protection from the cropping of willow and poplar in Europe and the use of mallee eucalypts to fight salinity in Western Australia. While exploring this central argument, the volume also provides a systematic overview of the socio-economic sustainability issues surrounding bioenergy.
Baumber, A, Berry, E & Metternicht, G 2019, 'Synergies between Land Degradation Neutrality goals and existing market-based instruments', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 94, pp. 174-181.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 Since the concept of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) emerged in global policy discourse, a key point of contention has been the development of market-based instruments to promote the LDN agenda. Much of this discussion has focused on the use of LDN-specific offset mechanisms and private-public partnerships. However, there is also an opportunity to capitalise on the synergies that exist between LDN objectives and those of existing market-based instruments that have previously been developed for carbon, biodiversity, bioenergy and in other contexts. LDN objectives could be integrated into such schemes through targeted eligibility rules and certification schemes, supporting methodologies, adaptations to multifunctional indices used in auction-based approaches and the restructuring of mandates, tax breaks and feed-in tariffs for bioenergy and other products.
Berry, E, Metternicht, G & Baumber, A 2019, ''This country just hangs tight': Perspectives on managing land degradation and climate change in far west NSW', Rangeland Journal.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 Australian Rangeland Society. Discussions of land degradation often display a disconnect between global and local scales. Although global-scale discussions often focus on measuring and reversing land degradation through metrics and policy measures, local-scale discussions can highlight a diversity of viewpoints and the importance of local knowledge and context-specific strategies for sustainable land management. Similarly, although scientific studies clearly link anthropogenic climate change to land degradation as both cause and consequence, the connection may not be so clear for local rangelands communities due to the complex temporal and spatial scales of change and management in such environments. In research conducted in October 2015, we interviewed 18 stakeholders in the far west of New South Wales about their perspectives on sustainable land management. The results revealed highly variable views on what constitutes land degradation, its causes and appropriate responses. For the pastoral land managers, the most important sign of good land management was the maintenance of groundcover, through the management of total grazing pressure. Participants viewed overgrazing as a contributor to land degradation in some cases and they identified episodes of land degradation in the region. However, other more contentious factors were also highlighted, such as wind erosion, grazing by goats and kangaroos and the spread of undesired 'invasive native scrub' at the expense of more desirable pasture, and alternative views that these can offer productive benefits. Although few participants were concerned about anthropogenic climate change, many described their rangeland management styles as adaptive to the fluctuations of the climate, regardless of the reasons for these variations. Rather than focusing on whether landholders 'believe in' climate change or agree on common definitions or measurement approaches for land degradation, these results suggest that their cultur...
Cowie, AL, Waters, CM, Garland, F, Orgill, SE, Baumber, A, Cross, R, O'Connell, D & Metternicht, G 2019, 'Assessing resilience to underpin implementation of Land Degradation Neutrality: A case study in the rangelands of western New South Wales, Australia', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 100, pp. 37-46.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Land degradation through loss of ground cover, wind erosion and woody scrub encroachment affects rangelands globally, threatening the resilience of communities and ecosystems. Climate change is anticipated to exacerbate land degradation in the rangelands, through increased incidence of drought. In the semi-arid rangelands of Australia, land managers have limited capacity to manage land degradation. Recent Australian climate policy initiatives could provide opportunities to improve land management, and increase resilience of rangeland pastoral systems. The Australian government's Emissions Reduction Fund enables landholders to obtain carbon credits for sequestering carbon in vegetation and soil. In western New South Wales (NSW), landholders have received funding for avoiding clearing or allowing the regrowth of native vegetation. These carbon farming projects could provide financial resources for landholders to manage drivers of land degradation and thus contribute to achieving 'land degradation neutrality' (LDN). However, the impacts of carbon farming, particularly at regional level, are highly uncertain. The conceptual framework for LDN proposes that planning for LDN should be underpinned by assessment of resilience of the current and alternative lands use, using tools such as the Resilience Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Approach (RAPTA). RAPTA is a framework developed to guide the application of resilience concepts in management of social-ecological systems. It encourages a systems approach to identify critical linkages in the system, that become the focus of assessment of the system's resilience, and development of management plans to enhance resilience, and facilitate transformation where required. We present a case study of the application of RAPTA to support assessment of the resilience of current management and alternative land use strategies involving carbon farming. RAPTA facilitated a holistic assessment of social, biophysic...
Kligyte, G, Baumber, A, van der Bijl-Brouwer, M, Dowd, C, Hazell, N, Le Hunte, A, Newton, M, Roebuck, D & Pratt, S 2019, '"Stepping in and Stepping out': Enabling Creative Third Spaces Through Transdisciplinary Partnerships', International Journal of Students as Partners, vol. 3, no. 1.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Baumber, A, Metternicht, G, Cross, R, Ruoso, LE, Cowie, AL & Waters, C 2019, 'Promoting co-benefits of carbon farming in Oceania: Applying and adapting approaches and metrics from existing market-based schemes', Ecosystem Services, vol. 39.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Carbon farming in its various forms has the potential to deliver a range of ecosystem services in addition to climate regulation. In Australia, the main public 'co-benefits' that could result from carbon farming are conservation of biodiversity, increases in soil and water quality, productivity increases, and economic and cultural services for Indigenous communities. While there is a lack of empirical evidence that carbon farming is delivering these ecosystem services to date, various metrics have been developed by researchers and through other payment for ecosystem services schemes that may enable effective targeting of these co-benefits. In this article, we review previous studies and schemes and identify four main approaches for metrics that could be applied to carbon farming in Australia: (1) spatial modelling, (2) benchmarks; (3) environmental benefit indices; and (4) indicators. The relative value of each of these approaches varies, depending on the objectives of policy-makers. Spatial modelling and benchmarks can play a key role in decision support systems for landholders who may be interested in carbon farming. Indices are valuable for the development of new or modified market-based schemes that weigh up different co-benefits. Indicators are critical for outcome-based payment schemes and for verifying the effectiveness of co-benefit policies overall.
Baumber, AP, Metternicht, G, Ampt, P, Cross, R & Berry, E 2018, 'Opportunities for adaptive online collaboration to enhance rural land management', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 219, pp. 28-36.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Cross-property cooperation has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of environmental management actions that cut across property boundaries. Online tools can facilitate this and overcome barriers to landholder engagement in collaborative management. However, collaborative online tools need to be designed and tailored to users' needs and values, and landholder participation in the development process is critical to ensuring uptake and long-term use.
This article presents a case study from the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia, where landholders have been involved in participatory development of a new online collaboration tool. The case study results highlight the significance of issues such as internet access, privacy, technical proficiency and differing stakeholder objectives. A landholder survey identified mapping and the uploading of monitoring data as important functions for the online tool, but these were not rated as highly as functions relating to data security, sharing settings and key term searches. Consequently, we recommend that a future online collaboration tool for the region is not framed specifically as a mapping or citizen science tool, but rather as an adaptive collaboration and communication tool that can incorporate a variety of data types and formats and be modified over time in line with changing landholder needs.
Baumber, A, Metternicht, G, Ampt, P, Cross, R & Berry, E 2018, 'From Importing Innovations to Co-Producing Them: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Development of Online Land Management Tools', Technology Innovation Management Review, vol. 8, no. 8, pp. 16-26.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
While traditional approaches to innovation diffusion often assume that innovations come from outside a local system, transdisciplinary co-production offers an alternative paradigm in which local stakeholders are engaged as co-producers of innovations. The use of digital online tools for agriculture, conservation, and citizen science is an area of expanding opportunities, but landholders are often dependent on tools developed outside their local communities. This article looks at the potential for transdisciplinary co-production to be used as a framework for more participatory development of digital online land management tools, with a case study from the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. This research has implications beyond rural land management to other industries and contexts where reflexive and integrative strategies are needed to overcome barriers to stakeholder participation and engagement with new technologies.
Abstract While policy-makers in the bioenergy sector have paid considerable attention over the past decade to the risks that energy cropping can pose to forests, soils and food security, there has been less focus on how bioenergy policies can be designed to enhance ecosystem services. Some perennial energy crops have demonstrated the potential to provide habitat for biodiversity, improve soil health, enhance water quality, mitigate dryland salinity and sequester carbon. While much uncertainty exists around which forms of energy cropping might deliver these benefits, opportunities exist to preferentially support beneficial energy crops through the adaptation of existing bioenergy policies. This article provides a global review of bioenergy policy instruments that identifies existing and potential mechanisms for promoting the enhancement of ecosystem services. While many existing bioenergy support policies promote fuel supply (a provisioning service) and climate change mitigation (a regulating service), it is less common for bioenergy policies to actively enhance ecosystem services such as habitat provision, soil improvement and water regulation. Further opportunities to promote these ecosystem services exist through structured tax concessions, sub-mandates, banding and renewable energy auctions, but careful consideration needs to be given to trade-offs between services, risks of disservices and the need for complementary non-energy policies.
Baumber, AP, Evans, H, Turner, RJ, Merson, J, Dixon, B & Crust, D 2017, 'Enhancing seedling survival on former floodplain grazing land in the Capertee Valley, Australia', Ecological Management and Restoration, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 253-256.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Active revegetation is an essential component of biodiversity
conservation for fragmented ecosystems and the species
that depend on them. However, key knowledge gaps exist
around the most cost-effective revegetation strategies to
employ in different contexts. This article reports on a
revegetation trial undertaken in the Capertee Valley of
New South Wales, Australia, to assist the conservation of
the critically endangered bird, the Regent Honeyeater
(Anthochaera phrygia). Seven treatments were compared
to assess their cost-effectiveness for enhancing plant survival
at a floodplain site with a history of grazing on introduced
pastures. While overall survival rates were low,
treatments involving tree guards had higher survival rates
and were more cost-effective than treatments without
guards. Weed growth, animal activity and water stress all
appeared to play a role in the low survival rates at this site,
with enhanced weed control emerging as a priority for
future trials at similar sites.
Baumber, A, Merson, J, Ampt, P & Diesendorf, M 2011, 'The adoption of short-rotation energy cropping as a new land use option in the New South Wales Central West', RURAL SOCIETY, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 266-279.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Baumber, A, Cooney, R, Ampt, P & Gepp, K 2009, 'Kangaroos in the rangelands: opportunities for landholder collaboration', RANGELAND JOURNAL, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 161-167.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Cooney, R, Baumber, A, Ampt, P & Wilson, G 2009, 'Sharing Skippy: how can landholders be involved in kangaroo production in Australia?', RANGELAND JOURNAL, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 283-292.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Ampt, P & Baumber, A 2006, 'Building connections between kangaroos, commerce and conservation in the rangelands', Australian Zoologist, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 398-409.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The role of landholders in kangaroo harvesting is an issue that has been revisited often over time as circumstances continue to change within the kangaroo industry, within rural communities and within national and international conservation frameworks. It is again time to assess the state of play. The kangaroo industry has, after more than 30 years of operation, a legitimate claim to being sustainable. But where does it stand in relation to current international thinking on sustainable use and in relation to the broader conservation goals for Australia's rangeland environments? This paper presents strategies for linking the kangaroo harvest with conservation in the sheep rangelands through models that can provide economic returns and a greater management role for landholders in the kangaroo industry. According to the principles of conservation through sustainable use (CSU), when local people receive direct economic returns from the sustainable use of wildlife, they can gain incentives to undertake species and habitat conservation.This is not happening with kangaroo harvesting at present and if it is to be achieved we need improved knowledge of kangaroo grazing dynamics, increased valuing of kangaroo products, pathways for landholders to engage with the industry and a clear will on the part of government agencies responsible for managing the harvest to move beyond the frameworks that have traditionally guided kangaroo management policy in Australia.
Baumber, AP 2017, 'Restoration and Market-based Instruments' in Allison, S & Murphy, S (eds), Routledge Handbook of Ecological and Environmental Restoration, Routledge, Oxford, pp. 454-467.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Baumber, AP, Merson, JA, Diesendorf, MO & Ampt, PR 2012, 'Revegetation, bioenergy and sustainable use in the New South Wales central west' in Merson, JA, Cooney, R & Brown, P (eds), Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia-Pacific, UNSW Press, Sydney, pp. 186-204.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Revegetation of heavily-cleared forest and woodland ecosystems is a
widespread natural resource management (NRM) goal in Australia,
including in the region that is the focus of this chapter – the central west
of New South Wales. Tree plantings that generate commercial returns
for landholders could help to promote greater uptake of revegetation
practices. Bioenergy, in the form of electricity generation, industrial heat
or transport fuels, has been suggested by a number of authors as an
option to drive establishment of such plantations (for example, Howard
& Ozlack 2004; Bell 2005; Total Catchment Management Services 2008). The idea of harnessing commercial drivers such as bioenergy
production to promote revegetation raises a number of issues around
the concepts of ecological restoration and sustainable use. Harvesting
biomass from replanted ecosystems can create incentives for both the
maintenance of such ecosystems and the establishment of more plantings.
However, trade-offs are also likely to be required between ecological
and economic objectives. Such trade-offs, as well as undesirable
side-effects, have become increasingly topical for bioenergy production.
Recent expansion of bioenergy crops, particularly for liquid biofuels,
has demonstrated the capacity for bioenergy to act as both a driver of
positive change through both revegetation and climate change mitigation
(Simpson et al. 2009; URS Australia 2009), and a driver of negative
change through deforestation, increased carbon emissions, dispossession
and competition with food production (Gallagher 2008).
This chapter explores whether the concept of sustainable use may
have applicability for revegetation activities that seek to harness the
commercial driver of bioenergy to deliver NRM objectives. Two case
studies in the central west of New South Wales are explored in order to
identify potentially viable revegetation strategies and highlight implications
Ampt, PR & Baumber, AP 2012, 'Applying the principles of conservation through sustainable use to the commercial kangaroo harvest in New South Wales, Australia' in Merson, JA, Cooney, R & Brown, R (eds), Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia-Pacific, UNSW Press, Australia, pp. 235-255.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As has been outlined elsewhere in this volume, there is a strong body
of international evidence to show that when local people gain value
from the sustainable use of wildlife, they have an incentive to maintain
that wildlife and the ecosystems that support it (Webb 2002; Hutton
& Leader-Williams 2003). This phenomenon, known as conservation through sustainable use or CSU (Webb 2002), has been acknowledged
in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and elucidated through
its Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of
Biodiversity (CBD 2004). If these guidelines are conscientiously applied,
they should ensure that use is both sustainable and generates incentives
for conservation where the situation is appropriate. These principles
will be referred to here as the CSU principles.
Cooney, R, Archer, M, Baumber, AP, Ampt, PR, Wilson, G, Smits, J & Webb, G 2012, 'THINKK again: getting the facts straight on kangaroo harvesting and conservation' in Science under siege: Zoology under threat, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Australia, pp. 150-160.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A recent publication from the Think Tank for Kangaroos (THINKK) in the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney evaluates the idea that eating wild harvested kangaroo meat is environmentally beneficial, compared to other meats produced on rangelands (Ben-Ami et al. 2010). It finds in the negative. The report purports to be a reasoned and objective analysis based on the science surrounding kangaroo harvesting. Here we examine this document with reference to available literature, and demonstrate that it is neither well-reasoned nor accurate. It contains multiple errors of fact, inaccurately represents published research, and makes several invalid and seriously misleading comparisons. In our view, this report makes an inaccurate and potentially misleading contribution to the scientific, legal and social debate on kangaroo management. In the light of these findings we discuss the challenges to academic objectivity and rigour posed by funding of university research by interest groups
Ampt, P, Baumber, A & Gepp, K 2009, 'Adaptive management of a sustainable wildlife enterprise trial in Australia's barrier ranges' in Adaptive Environmental Management: A Practitioner's Guide, pp. 73-94.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009. All Rights Reserved. This project is an example of a participatory research activity that set out, from the outset, to apply adaptive management principles for both improved resource management and enhanced project management. As a result, the entire project exemplifies the application of adaptive management: a complex system with multiple parts where initial interventions are continuously evaluated to determine the next steps in the process. There are multiple actors and theatres of the project, each of which needs to progress before others can progress, and the results of one impacts on the progress of another. A key component of the project is a trial under the adaptive management provisions of the New South Wales Government's Kangaroo Management Program, so it also provides insights on the practical implications of conducting research to meet an institutional requirement for adaptive management.
Cross, R, Baumber, AP, Ampt, PR, Metternicht, G & Berry, E 2017, 'Identifying opportunities for cross-property landholder collaboration for conservation and production', Institute of Australian Geographers Conference 2017, Brisbane.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Cross-property collaborations offer novel solutions for dealing with complex, multi-scalar issues and fortifying long-term landscape-scale conservation and increasing viability of production systems. This type of coordinated action has the potential to manifest a range of innovative, capital building ventures. This paper reports on a NSW Environmental Trust funded project 'Increasing landholder collaboration for landscape scale conservation', focused on the NSW Central West and Central Tablelands. To explore opportunities, a participatory rural appraisal (PRA), an interviewing process which utilises local people as researchers and involves a series of workshops, was conducted and 55 landholders were interviewed.
Evidence of cross-property collaboration included biodiversity management, vegetation plantings, fire safety and management, pest and weed control (e.g. dog baiting groups), informal sharing/trading of equipment, labour and transport, and informal grazing arrangements. Major barriers to collaboration were lack of time, reluctance to drive collaboration, individualistic mentalities, social dynamics, lack of contact (especially with absentee landholders), lack of perceived benefit from collaborating, and apprehension about personal liability versus group liability. Opportunities for increased collaboration include habitat connectivity, shared costs for pest and weed management, goat and kangaroo harvesting, shared branding and place-marketing, small-scale mobile production, and eco-tourism for recreation, cultural experience and nature-watching. To enable collaboration, realising synergies with neighbours, being able to discuss novel ideas in an online forum, and learning first-hand from other successful collaborators were identified as initiating steps.
Pfeiffer, H, Ampt, P, Baumber, AP, Cross, R, Berry, E & Metternicht, G 2017, 'Lessons and best practice of landholder collaboration for landscape-scale conservation and production', https://www.austrangesoc.com.au/data/ARSC2017/2017_Conference_Papers/Pf…, 19th Biennial Conference of the Australian Rangeland Society, Australian Rangelands Society, Port Augusta.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Tensions between production and natural resource management objectives, often perceived as mutually opposing, are increasing as technological, political, social changes and climatic variability continue to shape Australian rural landscapes. This paper explores enablers and barriers for landholder collaboration to bridge this gap, and to facilitate transitioning to new industries. Through key informant interviews we identified issues that need be considered for enhanced understanding of the complexities and contextual nature of landholder collaboration. These include models of collaboration; the role of government and funding; the role of industry; the role of education; marketing strategies; the importance of social cohesion; community involvement; succession of collaboration; and integrating production and conservation. Our findings suggest that when transitioning to new industries on a landscape-based scale, the aforementioned need to be taken into account.
Ampt, P, Baumber, AP, Berry, E, Cox, T, Cross, R, Metternicht, G & Pfeiffer, H 2017, 'Landscape scale conservation: incentives for cross-property action', http://conferencecompany.com.au/revegconf2017/, Restore, Regenerate, Revegetate Conference, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Production landscapes are critical for biodiversity conservation. Individual landholders can contribute but the real challenge is coordinated cross-property action at a landscape scale. This paper describes 2 projects through which we have attempted to better understand that challenge. The 'Communities in Landscapes' project (Caring for Our Country 2009-2012) provided coordinated advice and training to develop cross-property biodiversity plans and $70k for each of 7 landholder groups for the initial phase of the implementation. The project generated collaboration on landscape scale biodiversity conservation, but without ongoing support the benefits achieved could be soon lost. The 'Increasing landholder collaboration for landscape scale conservation' project (NSW Environmental Trust 2016-2017) is exploring the nature and extent of collaboration, and the opportunities provided by collaboration for public and private benefit. The vision is for landholders to develop 'Landscape Corporations' which are the vehicle for integrating production and conservation for landholders sharing the same landscape.
Energy cropping is well established in many countries, from Brazilian sugarcane to US corn ethanol to woody crops like poplar in Europe. Australia offers significant potential for energy crop expansion, especially as advances are made around cellulosic biofuels from woody biomass. A potential threat to this expansion is the criticism energy cropping has attracted, from the food vs fuel debate to the clearing of tropical rainforests for oil palm. One response has been the development of sustainability criteria and standards to ensure that governments do not promote forms of bioenergy that pose such threats. However, this alone may not be enough to ensure that energy cropping systems are able to earn and maintain a 'social licence to operate' from affected communities.
The phrase 'social licence to operate' first emerged in the mining sector in the 1990s to describe the extent to which society is prepared to accept the resource use practices of private companies. It has since been applied to activities such as windfarms and agriculture. Energy cropping are well suited to analysis using the social licence concept because it presents not only environmental risks (which may threaten its social licence), but also potential benefits such as climate change mitigation and landscape protection, which may strengthen its social licence.
This paper considers not only which energy crops currently have a social licence to operate, but also how resilient this social licence is likely to be in response to unexpected shocks and controversies. It will draw on lessons from overseas, where certain energy crops have shown signs of losing their social licence (e.g. first-generation biofuel crops in the EU) and other sectors, such as pulpwood plantations in southern Australia.
The fact that a particular innovation offers an environmental benefit is no guarantee that it will obtain a social licence from affected communities, with a prominent example being opposition to wind farms in par...
Baumber, AP, Ampt, P, Merson, J & Diesendorf, M 2010, 'Short-rotation energy cropping as a climate change adaptation strategy for the NSW Central West', NCCARF Climate Change Adaptation and Governance Workshop, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, UNSW, Sydney.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Baumber, AP, Ampt, P, Merson, J & Diesendorf, M 2009, 'Integrating bioenergy into sustainable and resilient agricultural landscapes: Is multifunctionality a better approach than 'food over fuel'?', Bioenergy Australia 2009 Conference Proceedings, Bioenergy Australia Conference 2009, Bioenergy Australia, Gold Coast.
In recent years, global bioenergy policy has been driven in part by concerns about impacts on global food prices and 'displacement' of agriculture into new frontiers. Several proposed solutions emerging
from the UK, US, Australia and other countries have been based around the notion that food, fuel and other commodities can be ranked according to a universal set of values (e.g. food always above fuel). Such notions often result in proposals to restrict bioenergy production to utilising only waste biomass or 'idle land'. However, such approaches can be problematic where local values differ from those set globally or where bioenergy production is actually helping to maintain agricultural production potential over the longer-term (e.g. Oil Mallee in Western Australia). This paper focuses on situations where bioenergy can act as a driver for revegetation of degraded or vulnerable land and asks whether such examples should be seen as simply the exception to the rule of 'food over fuel' or whether a different approach is required. The concept of 'multifunctionality' is explored as an alternative approach to integrating bioenergy into sustainable and resilient landscapes.
Baumber, AP, Rammelt, C, Ampt, PR & Merson, JA Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 2012, Bioenergy from Native Agroforestry: Planning for a Regional Industry in the NSW Central Tablelands, no. 12/021, Canberra.
Merson, JA, Ampt, PR, Rammelt, C & Baumber, AP Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 2011, Bioenergy from Native Agroforestry: An assessment of its potential in the NSW Central Tablelands, no. 11/065, Canberra.
Ampt, PA & Baumber, AP Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 2010, Building Cooperation and Collaboration in the Kangaroo Industry: Towards a role for landholders, no. 10/013, Canberra.
Metternicht, G, Baumber, AP, Ampt, PR, Cross, R & Berry, E 2017, 'Developing online tools for increased landholder collaboration in landscape scale conservation and production'.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Metternicht, G, Baumber, AP, Ampt, P, Cross, R & Berry, E 2017, 'Developing online tools for increased landholder collaboration in landscape scale conservation and production'.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This research is part of a two-year project that aims to develop models and tools for incentivising on-ground collaboration on cross-property conservation and production activities. The focus of the study is the NSW Central Tablelands and Central West, particularly the areas around Mudgee-Rylstone and Cowra-Boorowa. The project involves:
- Social analysis to identify types of activities and organisational structures that foster collaboration
- Spatial analysis to determine how these activities could be linked strategically to deliver landscape-scale impacts outcomes
-The development of an online GIS-based tool for use by landholders and other stakeholders in identifying opportunities for collaboration.
Baumber, AP 2012, 'Harnessing bioenergy as a driver of revegetation: an analysis of policy options for the New South Wales Central West, Australia'.