Video / Webinar

Land degradation and recovery in Australia's rangelands: Learning from history through Science and Art

Greg McKeon and Grant Stone, Science Delivery, DES

Since grazing commenced in Australia’s rangelands there have been at least eight major episodes of land degradation and recovery. In the 1940s, the artist Sir Russell Drysdale graphically captured one such degradation episode involving horrific dust storms, loss of livestock and human suffering. Recent scientific advances have provided a better understanding of the driving forces of climate and grazing management that led to these episodes of degradation and partial recovery of the natural resource. History through art and science provides powerful reminders of challenges and solutions that have occurred in the past. This talk concludes with examples of how we are ‘learning from history’ to assist in not repeating mistakes made in the past.

Note: use of the presentation is subject to the following licence terms (PDF, 30K)*.

About Greg McKeon and Grant Stone

Dr Greg McKeon has worked as a Queensland Government scientist for 32 years, retiring as a Chief Scientist in 2010.  With many state government and national colleagues, Dr McKeon worked on developing computer models for the productive and sustainable use of Queensland’s natural grazing lands.  Much of his work concentrated on assessing the impact of historical climate variability and potential climate change on grazing systems.  As an author and co-author, he contributed to many journal papers, book chapters, conference papers and project reports.  In 2004, Dr McKeon was lead author of a major report describing episodes of degradation and recovery in Australia’s rangelands.  In 2011, Dr McKeon was appointed a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his contribution to science.  In this talk, Dr McKeon brings together many of the themes of his and many colleagues’ work from the past 30 years.

Grant Stone commenced his career as a stock and station agent in 1980, trading livestock and properties throughout rural Queensland.  Since 1998, Grant has worked as an Agricultural Scientist for the Queensland government on aspects of Queensland’s grazing lands and industry including climate impacts, pasture modelling and the distribution and carrying capacity of livestock. In 2004, he contributed a major chapter to the report on the history of land degradation and recovery including a detailed analysis of the long-term (>70 years) management of two Queensland grazing properties. Over the last 10 years, he has been involved in documenting the impacts of current climate variability on Queensland’s grazing lands, as well as the potential impacts of future climate change. His recent work has involved the application of climate risk assessment techniques for use in rural industries. Grant and Greg have worked very closely together over the last 15 years, combining their diverse backgrounds and experiences to produce many presentations and publications.

Last updated: 7 July 2022