Managing land and soil

Australian soils are among the most ancient and fragile in the world.

Within NSW there is an immense variety of soils that support our natural and social environments. Some are widespread throughout the State, while others are found only in small patches. Some are highly productive and extremely important for agriculture, while others are thin and infertile.

Soils form slowly. The rate of formation is negligible during an average human lifespan. They are essentially a finite, non-renewable resource.

Many of our soils have physical problems. They can be hardsetting and often have fine-textured, tough subsoils with restricted capacity to hold water. Some subsoils allow very little penetration of water, have poor aeration, and often have high salinity restricting root systems. Also, our climate often prevents production and retention of high levels of organic matter. The amount of organic matter held in our soils is generally very low.

It is essential that soils are managed with careful consideration for their individual characteristics, landscapes and climate, particularly in the context of climate change.

At the regional level, land management priorities are undertaken by Local Land Services (LLS). Each LLS plans and coordinates land management and natural resource priorities through a community-based strategic planning process.

Legislation and policy

In NSW, the Soil Conservation Act 1938 and other land management and natural resource management legislation protects soils and regulates land management.

The draft NSW Soils Policy provides the basis for an integrated framework to respond to the issues and opportunities presented by NSW soils. This policy acknowledges the value of data about soils and the importance of making soils data readily accessible throughout the community.

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Page last updated: 12 November 2015