Principles for Sustainable Land Management


Sustainable land management involves using the land within its capability to ensure the productivity and economic potential of the land is maintained, whilst its ecological function, such as the ability of the soils to retain water or the landscape to support biodiversity, is not diminished.  

Where economic, social and environmental factors are considered simultaneously by land managers, the long-term sustainability of the health, resilience and productivity of a property is more likely to be assured.

General land management principles

Manage your property according to the capability and limitations of the land This is based on an understanding of land resource areas and ecological processes. Consider soil    structure, depth and type, slope and drainage in your management decisions. Critical processes include the ability of the soil to retain water or resist erosion.   
Work cooperatively with neighbours This allows for effective management of landscape scale issues such as fire management, weeds, animal pests and erosion. Often this can maximise benefits and increase cost efficiency.
Ensure appropriate    placement and maintenance of infrastructure This could include roads, bridges, drains, soil     conservation features such as contours and waterways, fences, yards and water points to minimise land    degradation. A property management plan can guide you in making these decisions from a whole of property  perspective.
Protect and rehabilitate areas that are degraded or at risk from erosion and salinity Through fencing for stock management and     

re-establishment of groundcover and native vegetation.

Control weeds and pests Identify different weed species and adopt good hygiene practices particularly regarding movements of    machinery, livestock, fodder and seed.

Plan and implement integrated control measures,   which are most appropriate for your situation, to reduce negative impacts on production and the environment.  

Develop a fire management plan for your property and work with neighbours Manage fire for the protection of life and     property, conservation of biodiversity, protection of commercial forestry interests and pasture management for grazing.
Respect and protect Indigenous and European cultural heritage sites Manage access to significant sites and identify risks to their preservation.
Manage native forests for multiple purposes Implementing sustainable forest practices can improve timber production and grazing whilst maintaining or enhancing biodiversity values.
Minimise on-farm energy use & waste This reduces costs and environmental impacts.

Healthy land – managing soils and pastures

The quality and health of pastures and soil types have a critical role in grazing and crop production enterprises.  

Maintaining good vegetation cover helps keep soils healthy, as the roots help bind the soil together, controlling run-off and preventing erosion. The quality of groundwater and run-off water entering watercourses are also largely influenced by vegetation cover and soil health.   


Below are a few key points to consider when managing soils and pasture:

Maintain high levels of groundcover Keep at least 90 % of the soil surface covered at all times of the year by managing your stocking rate. This will help prevent erosion,    improve water quality and mean your pasture is able to quickly respond to any rainfall.
Adopt grazing management practices which maintain good land condition Maintain healthy, diverse pastures dominated by 3 P (perennial,     productive and palatable) species by managing utilisation, matching stock numbers to available forage and routine spelling.
Regularly monitor your pastures and match stock numbers to seasonal pasture availability. This helps ensure sustainable utilisation and prevents overgrazing and pasture degradation. It also allows early detection of emerging issues such as pest species or the onset of erosion.   
Regular spelling or rest of your grazing management system This enables pastures to recover and is especially important at some point during the wet season to promote seed set; the most affordable pasture rejuvenation action.
Adopt sustainable cropping practices This includes reduced tillage, stubble retention, use of green manure crops, legumes & ley pastures, crop rotations, and regular soil    analysis to match inputs to crop & soil needs, prevent soil health decline, soil acidification and erosion.
Adopt sustainable irrigation and farming practices Implement irrigation & farming practices which improve water use efficiency, minimise nutrient losses, run off and deep drainage and conserve limited water supplies.

HLW2-Topics-3P Grass Species

Conserving biodiversity

Where land is managed in a way that either conserves or enhances native vegetation, providing habitat for wildlife, the results can also be highly beneficial for sustainable farm production. A well balanced ecosystem has a key role in functions such as soil health, water quality, pest management and salinity control.

Protect and manage remnant vegetation and regrowth representing all original vegetation communities This enhances diversity, resilience and ecosystem function.
Retain all large standing trees with hollows Whether alive or dead as key habitat for arboreal mammals, birds and reptiles.
Maintain natural structural layers in patches of vegetation Resist the urge to clean up the understorey. Retain organic litter and fallen timber as habitat for a range of invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Improve connectivity between patches of native vegetation in the landscape Protect and manage natural regeneration and revegetation.
Maintain native vegetation in large patches (over 5 ha) with a large area to edge ratio This helps maintain viability and minimise threats and edge effects.
Develop and implement fire management plans Ensure your fire management plans and the fire regime (frequency, extent, intensity and timing) considers different vegetation types on your property.

Implement mosaic or patch-burning at property and catchment scales to maximise biodiversity values.  

Identify and control priority weeds and pests Adopting a strategic and coordinated approach will ensure effective control of environmental weeds and & pest animals.  
Monitor the condition of native vegetation Observe and record flora and fauna to monitor changes in habitats over time.   

HLW3- 3 Principles of bushland regen

Protecting waterways and wastelands

Creeks, rivers and wetlands are often the keystone ecosystems in the     landscape – where they are not managed properly, other land based systems can rapidly deteriorate.

Where land is bordering waterways, such as rivers or creeks, or wetlands, landholders are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices, such as those  outlined below.

Provide buffer zones around waterways, springs and wetlands This ensures that land use and    management practices do not impact on riparian and aquatic ecosystems
Protect and enhance native vegetation along river banks This helps minimise streambank erosion, filter nutrients, provide habitat, maintain healthy aquatic functions and protect     water quality.
Protect wetlands and floodplain features Allows natural flooding and inundation  to occur.
Where possible, permanent waterholes at key locations in the landscape should be protected from weeds, pests, fire and unmanaged grazing. This ensures they continue to provide  refuge and habitat values.
Manage dams as artificial wetlands Use strategic fencing and establish  alternative watering points. Provide vegetative  buffers by encouraging regeneration and revegetation.
Leave snags and large woody debris in streams This provides habitat and helps to control erosion.  

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