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You are here: Home Archive 1993 Dürre und Dürremanagement in Australien am Beispiel der Grossen Dürre von 1991/92

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Dürre und Dürremanagement in Australien am Beispiel der Grossen Dürre von 1991/92

DOI: 10.3112/erdkunde.1993.04.05
Year: 1993
Vol: 47
Issue: 4
Pages: 301-313

Since 1864 Australia has been affected by 10 major droughts and 7 of lesser severity. The last one 1991/92 was centered in the sheep farming area of Western New South Wales and had a catastrophic character. It was aggravated by the ongoing eradication of perennial grasses by overstocking, rabbits and feral goats. The sheep stations, having even in average years only a profit below that of a middle class income, came into extreme economic difficulties, because wool and me at prices were very low and interest rates very high. The drought management which was developed in former droughts failed: even with the 50 % transport and interest subsidies by the government, the distances to transfer sheep to better areas, to markets, or to fetch forage were too far, the duration of the drought was too long (about 18 months), and the money needed too costly. On average 60 % of the sheep died or had to be shot. Several ranchers had to give up. The government has reviewed its drought policy: droughts must be included in calculations as a natural risk. In future subsidies are no longer given for transport of stock or fodder, but more interest subsidies on loans for economic improvements, especially increase of the stations with decrease of stocking rates (to rehabilitate pastures). Planting of saltbush and bluebush (Atriplex and Maireana sp.) is promising. "Income equalization" of good and bad years for tax purposes will be improved. More funds for information, especially drought warning by ENSO analysis, will be provided. In catastrophic, disastrous droughts interest free "carry on loans" will be granted, if economically justifiable; otherwise social help will be given. It is proposed that in rangelands a drought should be considered catastrophic if no or almost no growing conditions occur for more than 10 consecutive months over a season of expected growth, and if more than half of the affected area is so far from the markets that the transport costs of the animals are higher than the low sales price caused by the drought. A catastrophic drought becomes a disaster if the economic conditions are so bad at the same time that the ranchers are unable to overcome the drought on their own. Then the area has to get help, and if the country is overburdened even international assistance should be made available.


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