One way to calculate the carrying capacity of an area is to apply the DSE measure – dry sheep equivalent. It’s a stocking rate term intended to indicate the carrying capacity of an area of land, usually rural properties. In a world oozing with human beings, the question is being asked: What is the human carrying capacity of the earth?
The answers – since there’s more than one – depend on many factors, one of them being ecological footprint. And this is where things become tricky. The lifestyle of ages past such as Aboriginal people, who lived well within the carrying capacity of the land was vastly different to the lifestyle of the first settlers and our grandparents which in turn is vastly different to the lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed.
David and Francis Pollock operate a pastoral lease – Wooleen – in the Murchison region of WA. where they have destocked their 1,530 sq.km. property. Applying regenerative agriculture principles the intention is to bring back native grasses and other vegetation in the interests of maintaining year round ground cover. Tourism has now become an integral part of the business to provide an income from which to carry out the restorative work.
As a visitor to Wooleen, Carolyn Beasley, in Homes on the rangelands (Australian Geographic, Jan-Feb. 2021) writes: ‘Before setting up camp, I sign Wooleen’s Commitment to Country pledging to protect the landscape. The Pollocks avoid overstocking with humans (read tourists), just as they do with cattle.’
In the interests of this ancient land, how do you reckon it would go down with visitors to Munibung Hill if they were asked to sign a Commitment to Country agreement? Read the Wooleen Commitment to Country agreement here: Wooleen Station, Commitment to Country