Lavery, H J

Over-reliance on legislation to manage our environment has been a disappointing and costly endeavour. On the other hand during the past half century, scientific research – incorporating aboriginal and colonial histories – has productively addressed all of the major ecosystems across the resource-rich north-eastern quarter of the Australian continent (Queensland), from the arid lands of the far ‘outback’ to the equally colourful Great Barrier Reef, and settlements in between. The wide-ranging field experience described in unusual detail in this book concludes that the ecosystems are still self-sustaining – although much remains to be learnt about them. Their management to achieve the necessary sustainability needs to be based on ecological design using different techniques from those defined in current legislation (in turn, derived largely from public opinion). Using the field data, seven fundamental principles have been formulated to guide appropriate strategic planning. The ‘environmental narrative’ is identified and nominated as the critical tool to communicate essential land management practice to landholders – to be conveyed in the form of classic Australian stories pioneered collaboratively between scientists and creative artists. This direction needs to be adopted at the earliest possible moment for two selected top priority ‘Areas of Outstanding Resources’.

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Australian Environment International, October 2021.  376 pages, paperback,