Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #305498


Location: Range Management Research

Title: Asymmetric ecological and economic responses for rangeland restoration: A case study of tree thickening in Queensland, Australia

item MACLEOD, NEIL - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item SCANLAN, JOE - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item BROWN, JOEL - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/6/2014
Publication Date: 4/14/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: MacLeod, N.D., Scanlan, J.C., Brown, J.R. 2014. Asymmetric ecological and economic responses for rangeland restoration: A case study of tree thickening in Queensland, Australia. Rangelands. 36(2):37-44.

Interpretive Summary: A Case Study of Tree Thickening in Queensland Australia. 2014. Neil D. MacLeod, Joe C. Scanlan and Joel R. Brown. Economic motivation for implementing targeted responses to rangeland degradation often lag the events that cause degradation and existing monitoring schemes often lack the sensitivity or the connections to ecological processes to reliably serve as a basis for evaluating success. In this paper, we present an approach for quantifying the relationship of economic output and land degradation during the intermediate stages of degradation. We also propose an approach that can provide enhanced incentives to implement proven responses before degradation processes are entrained.

Technical Abstract: Ecological and economic thresholds are important considerations when making decisions about safeguarding or restoring degraded rangelands. When degradation levels have passed a threshold, most managers figure it is either time to take action or too late to take action depending on the particular circumstances of the case. Considerations of ecological responses and thresholds have largely come from rangeland studies involving perennial vegetation with longlived cycles of causes and effects, whereas thinking on economic responses to management and thresholds have often been informed by studies of weeds and pests in annual pastures and crops where cycles are fairly short and responses to control are generally fast. In many cases of rangeland degradation, an asymmetry may exist between opportunities for taking action on the basis of shorter-term ecological signals and where that action will actually yield an economic response, which is often in the intermediate to longer term. In many cases the time for economically warranted action is well past the point at which low-cost ecological control options exist, leaving only scope for higher-cost treatments or capitulation.