The importance of agency in facilitating the transition to a multifunctional countryside

Richards, Carol & Bjorkhaug, Hilda (2009) The importance of agency in facilitating the transition to a multifunctional countryside. Journal of Rural Studies, 25(2), p. 249.

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We appreciate Holmes' body of work relating to transitions within the Australian landscape, and welcome the opportunity to engage in a discussion on this topic. The paper to which Holmes refers (Bjørkhaug and Richards, 2008) examined the application of agricultural (rather than landscape) multifunctionality in both Norway and Australia. Of specific focus was how non-tradeable concerns, such as environmental sustainability, faired under these divergent systems. We argued that Norway's multifunctionality was strong, due to it being embraced at both the policy and actor level, whereas Australia's could be described as weak. This ‘weak multifunctionality’ that we observed in Australia was due to an emerging bi-lateral (state and federal) policy framework that advocated the importance of environmental values which was rarely embraced by landholders who found themselves trapped on the ‘agricultural treadmill’. The nature of the treadmill is that alternative forms of land use are unthinkable when on-farm investments have been made that support the status quo – to get bigger and/or more efficient. For many of the Australian landholders interviewed in relation to this study, efficiency in production was at odds with the values necessary to effect a transition toward multifunctionality. For instance, graziers in Central Queensland were unconvinced of the value of conserving native flora and fauna when economic viability can be better assured through clear felling native forests to increase the productive capacity of the land.

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ID Code: 68210
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2009.02.002
ISSN: 1873-1392
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Pergamon
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2014 01:57
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2014 06:38

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