21 December 2006

UQ Gatton researchers are investigating the biodiversity and economic impacts of using mulga for fodder in the Queensland mulga lands.

Mulga is a hardy Acacia species that dominates the arid and semi-arid areas of inland Australia and is particularly palatable to stock.

Harvesting mulga to provide fodder for domestic stock during dry periods has been practised for over 100 years in south-west Queensland.

Many issues relating to the use of mulga as fodder are debated within the grazing industry, scientific community and government agencies. Like many environmental issues, limited and inconsistent data make it difficult to substantiate any one point of view.

The UQ Gatton research project, which is funded by the Federal Department of the Environment and Heritage, brings together many years of expertise in the region. It builds on many decades of research by government agencies in south-west Queensland.

The key outcomes will focus on best management practices and the implications of mulga fodder harvesting regimes.

Heading the investigation is Dr Manda Page from the School of Natural and Rural Systems Management (NRSM) at UQ Gatton Campus.

Dr Page has more than 14 years of ecological research experience in Queensland’s mulga lands.

The team also includes Dr Geoff Slaughter who has farm financial analysis expertise, Dr Bradd Witt who has conducted extensive research on the vegetation dynamics of the region and Associate Professor Bob Beeton who has over 40 years experience in conservation and environmental management.

“This research is of particular significance to future sustainable land use in the mulga lands which includes about 22 million hectares of land within both Queensland and New South Wales,” Dr Page said.

A unique feature is that the research team will work collaboratively with landholders, land management agencies and other stakeholders to determine the range of mulga fodder harvesting and associated property management practices across the region.

“This local knowledge and support is essential," Dr Page said.

"We shall run a series of workshops with landholders and other key stakeholders early in 2007.

"Workshops will help us to identify what happens on the ground and identify landholders who are interested in offering access to their properties for detailed case study analysis.

“Ultimately we hope to provide information that people can use to improve both environmental and economic management in the mulga lands."

People requiring further information, or who wish to be involved in the project can contact:
Dr Manda Page
The School of Natural and Rural Systems Management
The University of Queensland Gatton Campus Q4343
Telephone (07) 54 601 182
Email: gampage@uqg.uq.edu.au