Southern rangelands pasture condition and management guides

Page last updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2023 - 2:27pm

This information is for pastoralists, resource managers, government departments and others with an interest in the productivity and maintenance of rangeland plant communities in the Gascoyne, Murchison, Goldfields and Nullarbor, Western Australia. 

These guides help users to identify 23 of the most common pasture types, indicate when management changes are needed, and how to use some of the key indicators of pasture condition.

The southern rangelands region covered in this guide

These pasture condition guides cover about 815,000 square kilometres of the rangelands of Western Australia (see Figure 1), of which the major land uses are: pastoral lease (60%); unallocated Crown land (24%); and conservation estate (12%) in 2020. The area has been the subject of 9 inventory and condition surveys mainly undertaken by this department. The guides take into account 402 of the land systems described in rangeland surveys and 272 habitat (or vegetation) types.

Map of Western Australia showing the three Southern Rangeland pastoral regions
Figure 1: Southern rangelands Western Australia locality map

Using these guides

We recommend that you read the Introduction to pastures in the Southern Rangelands first for a full introduction to the pasture condition guide.

The pasture guides can be used as a reference for pasture condition assessments and as a training guide for pastoral station staff and others interested in the productivity and maintenance of rangeland plants and pasture communities. By tracking pasture condition, managers can assess the influence of management and set goals for rangeland condition.

Managers can use these guides to assess pasture condition on the listed pasture types in the southern rangelands. A pasture type is a distinctive mix of plant species, soil type and landscape position. The southern rangelands include the Gascoyne, Murchison and Goldfields-Nullarbor regional areas (Figure 1).

Pilbara pasture types on the northern boundary of the Carnarvon Basin – Gascoyne River Catchment area will overlap with southern rangeland pastures – also see the Pasture condition and management guide for the Pilbara if you are managing pastures in that overlap area.

Pasture condition is an important factor affecting animal production and is a useful indicator of ecologically sustainable management (a requirement of the Land Administration Act 1997) the sustainability of production and 

Southern rangelands pasture types with links to condition and management information

Pasture types in the southern rangelands can be classified into 3 main groups: Chenopods, shrubs, grasses (Table 1).

Table 1: Pasture groups and regional locations

Pasture groups

 

Occurrence

 

Chenopods

Gascoyne1

Murchison2

Goldfields-Nullarbor3

Bluebush pastures

Yes

Yes Yes
Eucalypt chenopod pastures

x

Yes Yes
Greenstone stony plain pastures

x

Yes Yes
Mixed chenopod shrub plain pastures Yes Yes Yes

Nullarbor pastures

x x Yes
Riparian association pastures Yes Yes Yes
Saltbush pastures Yes Yes

Yes

Samphire pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Snakewood pastures

Yes

Yes

x

Stony mixed chenopod pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shrubs

     
Acacia hardpan pastures Yes

Yes

Yes

Acacia–cassia short grass forb pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Currant bush mixed shrub pastures

Yes

x

x

Eucalypt-acacia-eremophila shrubland plain

x

Yes

Yes

Heath Yes Yes Yes
Sandplain acacia pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sandy granitic acacia shrub pastures

x

Yes

Yes

Stony acacia–cassia–eremophila pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Grasses

     
Buffel grass pastures

Yes

?4

?

Hard spinifex pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

Soft spinifex pastures

Yes

x x
Spear grass/wallaby grass pastures x x

Yes

Wanderrie grass pastures

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 Includes the Gascoyne catchment and Carnarvon Basin survey areas
2 Includes the Murchison River catchment, Lower Murchison River catchment and the Wiluna–Meekatharra survey areas, plus most of Sandstone–Yalgoo–Paynes Find and north–eastern Goldfields survey areas
3 Includes the southern Goldfields and Nullarbor survey areas, plus part of Sandstone–Yalgoo–Paynes Find and north–eastern Goldfields survey areas
4 Not yet significant or widespread in extent, but isolated stands and individuals are present, mostly confined to run on areas and road verges.

For more information

Contact one of the staff listed below.

Contact information

Joshua Foster