WA pastoral lands not adequately protected: Auditor General

The Western Australian Auditor General has released a report on the management of the state's pastoral lands, finding that the ecological sustainability of pastoral lands is not adequately protected under the current land monitoring and administration system.

“Pastoral lands have been under threat for over 75 years and during that time there has been limited progress to halt the decline in pastoral land condition.

The report found that current knowledge of the environmental condition of individual leases is poor.

“A reduction in the scope of monitoring since 2009 and limited use of remote sensing tools have contributed to a lack of understanding of land condition at the lease level, and restricted visibility of the extent of land condition issues across the pastoral estate.

“Future sustainability of the pastoral industry and the Crown’s land estate relies on being able to make informed decisions on how to address existing issues and prevent new ones.”

The report note that the lead up to the 2015 lease renewal process had resolved some outstanding land condition compliance issues, and since then, DPLH had adopted a pastoral liaison approach to its compliance work.

“However, this work is not well documented and does not provide good visibility into the extent of land condition issues or what is being done to address them.”

The Auditor General called for a rigorous documented compliance program to ensure appropriate stewardship of Crown land.

“A lack of support and guidance is impeding opportunities to achieve social, environmental and financial outcomes for pastoral businesses and their surrounding communities.

“There is a need for the PLB, DPLH and DPIRD to explore opportunities to provide guidance to lessees on good practice land management and streamline diversification processes to protect our valuable pastoral estate and address these issues.”

The report, Management of Pastoral Lands in Western Australia, is available here.

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