A recent announcement that cattle grazing leases will be extended in New South Wales national parks as part of a “scientific trial” reminds me of cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park. The study in New South Wales, which is yet to be designed, will look at the social, economic and environmental effects of livestock grazing in red gum and cypress woodlands of the Murray River.
It seems odd that the grazing leases would be extended before the study were designed. Surely any scientific study of these effects would dictate which areas should be grazed and which would not? And the confidence that one more study will answer the questions “once and for all” seems bold. As in Victoria, initiating the grazing before the study is designed gives an appearance of using science as a cloak for a policy decision.
We will wait and see what happens. In the meantime, check out this article by Ian Lunt about how livestock grazing can help conservation in some cases, and harm biodiversity in others. He also writes a little about the difference between science and sham.