Clear and present danger: balancing the land management issues of today with the eternal challenge of climate change


  • Andrew W. Claridge

DrAndrew W. Claridgeis a Senior Research Scientist with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service based in Queanbeyan, Australia, and a Visiting Fellow at the School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences (Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia; Tel: +61 6229 7041; This paper was inspired by a recent commentary article by Professor Chris Dickman, published in Ecological Management & Restoration, arguing the importance of maintaining a positive attitude towards the management of Australian landscapes.


Summary Management of natural ecosystems in Australian landscapes is fraught with difficulties and challenges. While unfavourable climate change is viewed of as an overwhelming critical factor, government and nongovernment groups faced with conserving biodiversity and ecological processes must continue to focus on already well-advanced present-day threats that erode the resilience of species to environmental perturbations and change. The most notable of these are posed by land clearing, introduced pests, weeds and inappropriate fire regimes. There are many positive examples of the biodiversity gains that can be made from reconnecting remnant vegetation, intensive and extensive pest and weed control, and re-adjusting fire regimes. When such pressures are alleviated, native species sometimes display an innate ability to recover. This gives hope that natural systems can be both resurrected and maintained for a range of functions, including providing sufficient suitable habitat to support the movement of component species in response to climate change. Achieving success in managing natural areas over the long term may be further assisted by looking outside the box for funding sources. Monitoring the outcome of land management activities is a key to understanding what is being achieved and should be encouraged wherever possible.