Conducting fieldwork during the Advanced Rangeland Ecology course
Conducting fieldwork during the Advanced Rangeland Ecology course
6 October 2010

Rangeland Management students from The University of Queensland were recently treated to good old fashioned ‘bush’ hospitality at Glenorn Station, Leonora WA, managed by Minara Resources Limited.

The nine students flew in from all parts of Australia to undertake the Advanced Rangeland Ecology course in Intensive mode from September 13-17, as part of their Postgraduate studies in Rangeland Management.

Successful rangeland management is inextricably linked to the ecology of the landscape, and rangeland ecology encompasses the foundational knowledge for grazing and other land management.

It involves the study of the relationships and interactions of biological, ecological and physical components in a rangeland ecosystem.

This includes the important and unique function of climate, land form, soils, vegetation, plants, soils and animals in a particular environment, and how management can influence these.

Ben Forsyth of “Three Rivers Station”, Meekatharra WA, is undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Rangeland Management.

He said that the opportunity to take the Advanced Rangelands Ecology course on a property was invaluable for tying the theory with the practical.

“While there may be some attraction in turning an Intensive week into a break from the land, the hospitality at Glenorn was amazing and the facilities first class," he said.

"Let’s face it, the bush is where most of the students live and are comfortable.

"Being able to share their experiences outside class hours with our hosts and fellow students was a significant bonus and I think we pretty much solved all the world’s problems around the campfire of an evening!

"A great week with a great bunch of people."

They were hosted by Minara, who operates the Murrin Murrin Nickel and Cobalt, Joint Venture project (60% Minara, 40% Glencore International AG) which is situated in the northern goldfields region of WA.

Minara provided the flights from Perth to Leonora, the accommodation, food and the venue for their week-long “hands on” study stint.

"The generosity of Minara and the hospitality of Trent Stillman, Minara’s Pastoral Coordinator, and his wife Caroline were very much appreciated," said Dr John Taylor, Director of Rangelands Australia, based at UQ Gatton.

"This sort of support enables students from across Australia to participate and share their insights and experiences in rangeland ecology and management.

“Students reported that the experience provided them with an opportunity to see a differing landscape to their own properties, and that Trent was able to take them to areas of the property to see first hand aspects of landscape function under varied climatic and environmental circumstances.”

The Advanced Rangeland Ecology course is one of a suite of range-specific courses from the Rangeland Management Postgraduate Coursework Programs offered by UQ, both Australia wide and to international students, and which include a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Rangeland Management.

This is the only educational program in Australia specifically addressing current and emerging issues in the vast rangelands (ie. 80% of the land mass = remote and very remote areas).

The Rangeland Management postgraduate coursework program targets land managers, livestock producers and staff of state agencies, regional natural resource management (NRM) and Landcare groups in the region.

The initiative has focused on professional development, especially building capacity for economic, environmental and social outcomes, and includes innovations to attract and support mature age students, including the availability of Commonwealth Supported Places and out of hours support through a national network of Rangeland Champions.

“Without the funding and support from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), the Queensland Government, the Meat and Livestock Association and CSIRO, the University would not have been able to develop these valuable programs,” Dr Taylor said.

The Program consists of core and elective courses.

The Core courses are; Sustainable Rangeland Production Systems and Regions, Building Effective Stakeholder Engagements and Global and National Trends, Local Scenarios. These are complemented by 10 elective courses including Animal Nutrition and Behaviour, Rangeland Pest Animals, Weeds and Biosecurity and Property, Catchment and Regional Planning.

The Rangelands Australia initiative won the 2009 Australian Rural Education Award for excellence in rural education, and especially for ‘expanding opportunities, efficient and effective education, and providing educational benefits in rural Australia’.

This initiative has also been recently acknowledged by the US-based Range Science Education Council as the “inspiration, catalyst and model” for a US Department of Agriculture-funded revamp of the range management programs at 30 US universities.

For more information, please visit the Rangelands Australia Website at or phone (07) 5460 1660 to enquire about Programs and Courses.