Environmental Impact

The kangaroo industry is widely regarded as an intelligent use of a sustainable resource and is supported by scientists, conservation groups and academics as being a benchmark for a natural resource use model. Through careful and thoughtful management the industry produces high quality meat and leather products for the global market by utilizing the super-abundant kangaroo population. The entire process is closely managed by the Australian Government and supported by conservation and environmental protection communities throughout Australia due to clear goals of sustainability and ecosystem preservation. The kangaroo industry is sustainable, humane and produces sensational products.

The Kangaroo industry is sustainable and humane and works in close partnership with government and independent experts to continually review populations and enforce compliance. It is this cooperative commitment to an environmentally responsible use of a native resource, which should be the focus of international attention.

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A major factor leading to higher kangaroo populations is the provision of artificial watering to deliver stock water for cattle, sheep and goat enterprises. Prior to European settlement, large areas of the rangelands were waterless, especially during drought, yet now even during the worst drought very few points in the rangelands are further that 3 km from a permanent water source and no point is further than 10 km. 

Secondly, natural dingo predation as a control measure on kangaroo populations has been minimized in order to protect livestock from wild dog attacks. 

Large, uncontrolled populations of kangaroo negatively impact the environment and threaten biodiversity by contributing to overgrazing. For example a trial in Hatt-Kulkyne National Park biodiversity demonstrated increased abundance of 20 rare or threatened plant species in areas where excessive numbers of kangaroos were culled compared with un-culled areas. (Sluiter et al 1997)[1].
 

In the ACT, kangaroo numbers are controlled across several high-value conservation reserves.  Recent research supports this policy and suggest expanding the program beyond a few high conservation reserves could benefit a range of reptiles, especially where there is a mix of areas subject to low intensity and moderate grazing within reserves. “New evidence: culling kangaroos could help the environment

 
Excessive populations of kangaroos also pose threats to other animal species. Research into the impacts of grazing on ground-dwelling reptiles in Australian grasslands and grassy woodlands demonstrated that in habitats with low kangaroo grazing, reptiles were more than three times as abundant, and contained twice as many species of reptile than compared to areas with high kangaroo grazing levels.  “Eaten Out of House and Home” found that reptile abundance, species richness and diversity were highest where kangaroo grazing intensity was low.  
In the ACT, kangaroo numbers are controlled across several high-value conservation reserves. The new results support this policy and suggest expanding the program beyond a few high conservation reserves could benefit a range of reptiles, especially where there is a mix of areas subject to low intensity and moderate grazing within reserves. “New evidence: culling kangaroos could help the environment”  

The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland has also expressed concerns about over-abundant kangaroos harming critical habitat of the vulnerable yellow footed rock wallaby. “In Queensland the various populations of commercially harvested species and number taken are publicly available ensuring accountability as well as transparency. In fact these programs ensure kangaroo populations remain sustainable, viable and that the rangelands environment and their wildlife are not threatened by unregulated kangaroo numbers which could lead to serious bio-diversity loss.” 
 

On a broader scale many of Australia’s most eminent ecologists are passionate about the concept of replacing a portion of sheep production in the rangelands with kangaroo production enterprises.  Professor Gordon Grigg has lead this argument with his seminal ‘Sheep Replacement Therapy for the Rangelands’ discussion.  The argument is that removing sheep and devoting a feed resource to kangaroos which are then harvested as a farm enterprise would enable better management of Total Grazing Pressure and deliver significant environmental benefits. Sheep Replacement Therapy.

For the most extensive and eminent discussion of the sustainability of kangaroo harvesting see the background discussion paper to the federal governments Management Plans for kangaroos at: Commercial Kangaroo Harvesting.

And finally, kangaroos don’t emit methane, Cattle and sheep do by the tonne lot and methane is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas.  It’s estimated that kangaroo meat has one third the carbon footprint of beef.  

1. Sluiter, I., Allen, G., Morgan, D. and Walker, I. (1997) Vegetation responses to stratified kangaroo grazing at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, 1992-96.  Dept. Natural Resource, Melbourne

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