Ancient and fragile landscape to be focus of Broken Hill event

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fowlers Gap Research Station, UNSW scientists will join local politicians, farmers and the public this week for a seminar on the far west's changing environment.


Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station, UNSW scientists will join local politicians, farmers and the public in Broken Hill this week for a special seminar on the changing environment of the state's far west.

Fowlers Gap is the only research station in the NSW arid zone. The University holds a lease in perpetuity on the remote 39,000 hectare station, which was established in 1966 and is used for research and teaching by UNSW Science and UNSW Art and Design.

The free public seminar on Saturday 25 September at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill, Environment of Change: the future of land management in the arid zone, has been organised in collaboration with 2015 Australian Young Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth, who has a sheep farm near Broken Hill.

Ms Molesworth is founder of Climate Wise Agriculture and was a key speaker at UNSW’s Climate for Change public forum last year.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs will give the opening address at the Broken Hill event, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Merlin Crossley will host a panel discussion, and other speakers will include CSIRO dust expert Dr Ross Mitchell and local councillor Christine Adams.

“The Far West region is an extremely ancient and fragile landscape,” says Ms Molesworth. “Our actions today determine its future – not just by the scope of our ambition, but by the breadth of our research, the quality of our planning and the calibre of our leadership.”


Anika Molesworth second from left at UNSW's Climate for Change public forum in 2015

UNSW Science professors Richard Kingsford, Mike Archer and Terry Dawson will also speak at the seminar, along with Cameron Allan of Meat and Livestock Australia and Dr Steve McLeod  of the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The Far West region is expected to experience significant environmental change in coming decades, with increasingly intense extreme rainfall events and longer dry spells between them. The gathering will consider how this could affect future land management and trigger social change.

“Rural and regional Australia are struggling to survive and, justifiably, are increasingly worried about what climate change and other environmental drivers are going to mean for the future viability of the sector,” says Professor Archer.

For more details on the Broken Hill event please see the seminar website.