Landscape Research 40(6), 2015, 684-700
Jane L. Lennon
Beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, pastoralism was “the force that impelled the spread of modern settlement of rural Australia” (685). Along with pastoral activities, pockets of small-scale agriculture developed and shaped the landscape despite the climatic and technological challenges. Over the past few decades, the overall number of farms in Australia has decreased as well as an increase in farm size, a trend we are seeing in North America as well. In this paper, we see a critical analysis of change in scale and economies of Australia’s productive agricultural landscape. Focus is given to the transition being seen in rural lands from small-scale family farms of mixed stock/crop production to agglomerations of vast monocultures.
In the article, Lennon identifies some of the most significant issues driving change in Australia’s agricultural sector, ranging across a multitude of topics including marketing challenges, the international trading environment, infrastructure, labour, climate, etc. Together, it is at the confluence of all of these drivers where we are seeing the significant changes in Australia’s rural landscapes. And so, the author raises the important question, “How much change is acceptable in Australian rural landscapes, and to whom?” (697). It seems that change driven by natural processes is more accepted in many of the world’s cultural landscapes.
This paper pushes forth the idea of agricultural landscapes as being “continuing living landscapes”, and a component of the wider rural landscape. Sustainability, and integrity of these systems, can be achieved only with a greater valuation placed on agricultural landscapes, much in the same way the public values the country’s national parks. And while there is a role for broad-reaching State and national policies for landscape protection, “the agricultural landscape require a fine grained approach” in order to plan for more sustainable outcomes.
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