The purpose of this book is to examine planning and management responses and solutions to the range of problems and issues associated with resource allocation, land use and environmental degradation in Australia, with an emphasis on non-metropolitan areas. Pastoral and agricultural land uses are spatially dominant; other land uses include mineral exploration and extraction, tourism and recreation, forestry, preservation of flora and fauna, and Aboriginal occupation. Infrastructure, secondary industries, towns and hobby farms also occupy land and impinge on other land uses and the environment in non-metropolitan regions.
Problems and issues posed by the above activities include on- and off-site land degradation, and competition for land and resources amongst the various existing and/or potential users. This competition often leads to conflict amongst the user groups, conflicts which have been particularly intense in or associated with Australia's forests, National Parks, Aboriginal land, coastal zones and rural-urban fringes.
Several approaches are possible in writing a book on managing these problems of land degradation and competition for land and resources.
1 The book could tackle the problems sectorally, by dealing with each land use in tum . A sectoral approach was adopted in most of the discussion papers which led to the formulation of the Australian Commonwealth's Ecologically Sustainable Development Strategy (Commonwealth of Australia 1992c). But such an approach makes it very difficult to deal with integrative solutions, which we consider to be the key to resolving the problems.
2 The book could tackle the problems by dealing with biophysical environments or bioregions-for example, the tropical north, the coastal zone, temperate forests, the high country, the semi-arid and arid regions. This would make an integrative approach possible and relate the various problems directly to the nature of the biophysical environment. Such an approach has been favoured by natural scientists, for example, as discussed in The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biodiversity (DEST 1996; SCARM 1998). But a number of solutions, or management methods, would be common to different environments, leading to repetition and unnecessary length, as well as other organisational difficulties.
3 In order to resolve the problems of land degradation and competition for land and resources, planning must precede management. It is also necessary to plan and manage 'land' (including natural resources) in an integrated way on a regional basis. In other words, what is needed is a book which shows how regional planning and management can integrate land-use planning (and allocation and management) with environmental protection.
That is the approach taken here; further justification will be provided in some detail in several places. While the approach uses and relies on Australian examples, the methods involved are not unique to this country. Nevertheless, integrative approaches to land and resource use management and planning in Australia are now receiving considerable attention at national, State and local levels.
The book is structured into five Parts, each containing several chapters. In order to clarify some important differences in concepts, Part 1 first considers some fundamental definitions--of 'resource', 'environment' and 'environmental management', and the distinction between environmental 'problems' and 'issues'. An understanding of these is critical to defining the parameters for environmental policy, assessment, management and planning procedures. Two case studies are then presented, concerning intensive forestry practices (an environmental issue) and rural land degradation (an environmental problem). They are intended to demonstrate the need for integrated land-use and environmental planning and management on a regional basis. The case studies are also drawn on for illustration in several subsequent chapters.
Part 2 considers the Australian legislation which is designed to resolve environmental and land-use and resource allocation problems, and the agencies which have been set up to implement the legislation. It is concluded that these arrangements, usually with a narrow focus, are often ineffectual in dealing with problems of competing land/resource users and in protecting the Australian environment. Better methods are needed for the evaluation of land and resources and the effects on them of human actions. However, positive changes are taking place, and these are covered in Part 2 and again in Part 5.
The ready availability of sound environmental data is crucial to good environmental planning and management. Part 3 deals with different methodologies for environmental and land assessment and evaluation, ending with environmental impact assessment (EIA). I t is argued that EIA has considerable deficiencies-in particular, its focus on project-specific proposals--whereas other methods are generally more appropriate to integrated planning at regional (and other) scales. It is further maintained that effective planning requires not only appropriate legislation and methodologies, but also (on grounds of morality, equity and pragmatism) adequate involvement by the community in the decision-making processes. Part 4, then, looks at public participation in environmental decision-making.
The first four Parts highlight a range of deficiencies in the legislation, agencies, methods and decision-making relating to land management in Australia, and point to the need for environmental protection to be integrated with land, use planning and management at a hierarchy of national, State, regional and local scales, underpinned by sound, strategic planning policies and action plans. Part 5 reviews current regional planning and management laws, practices, methods and implementation in Australia. It draws attention to their strengths and weaknesses and concludes with a discussion of future prospects.
The rapid and uneven rate of changes in legislation, policies, agencies and nomenclature across all jurisdictions, often associated with changes of government and reform processes, has been a significant problem in researching and writing this book. Partly for this reason there are undoubtedly factual errors in the book-hopefully not too many or too serious-and the authors would appreciate having necessary corrections brought to their attention.