Agricultural land uses can contribute to land degradation, water quality decline, and loss of ecosystem function and biodiversity in the surrounding catchment. Trees can assist in catchment management, and re-afforestation strategies have been implemented in an effort to mitigate agricultural impacts and improve degraded land and waterways worldwide. Re-afforestation strategies often target private land, and their success relies on landholder participation. Landholders’ decisions about land-use allocation are driven primarily by the private financial costs and benefits associated with different farming strategies. This research assesses the private on-farm financial impact and the public environmental benefit of land use transition from beef grazing to a mixed beef grazing-forestry system in the Richmond River catchment on the east coast of Australia. GIS analysis identified more than 30% of the catchment as beef grazing land potentially available for re-afforestation, across a variety of soil types and geomorphic characteristics. We used a farm-scale financial model to assess the costs and benefits associated with transition from grazing to a variety of cattle-forestry mixtures that were determined on the basis of their suitability to soil type and slope in different parts of a catchment. We also used a multi-criteria approach to assess the environmental outcomes associated with each transition. The results demonstrate that diversification to a mixed beef grazing-forestry system consistently provides environmental benefit, but the financial impact on landholders varies depending on soil type. Landholders on ferrosol and vertosol soils in this catchment have favourable options that can simultaneously deliver private and public benefits, whereas landholders on kurosol and dermosol soils are more restricted, with environmental improvements possible only as a trade-off with farm financial performance. Based on these results, we suggest that different policy mechanisms are required to encourage graziers in different parts of the catchment to shift towards mixed cattle-forestry systems.
Authors and Publishers
Sullivan, Caroline A.
Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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