A general rural land evaluation system for NSW
Land capability is the inherent physical capacity of the land to sustain a range of land uses and management practices in the long term without degradation to soil, land, air and water resources. Failure to manage land in accordance with its capability risks degradation of resources both on- and off-site, leading to a decline in natural ecosystem values, agricultural productivity and infrastructure functionality.
The Land and Soil Capability (LSC) scheme, documented in this publication, builds on the Rural Land Capability (RLC) system developed in 1986 for NSW. It retains the eight classes of the earlier system but places additional emphasis on specific soil limitations and their management.
The LSC assessment scheme uses the biophysical features of the land and soil to derive detailed rating tables for a range of land and soil hazards. Each hazard is given a rating between 1 (best, highest capability land) and 8 (worst, lowest capability land), and the final LSC class of the land is based on the most limiting hazard.
The LSC assessment scheme was first applied at a broad scale in 2008 to support implementation of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Strategy. The derived LSC map for NSW is being used, with some revision, by the NSW Department of Primary Industries to assist in the determination of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) as a component of the NSW Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Plans (SRLUP).
This publication should enable a reliable assessment of the potential of the land to support a range of sustainable land uses and land management practices. It is directed at land managers and advisors in government, CMAs and landholders concerned with the protection of NSW’s soil and land resources. It should also be of interest to students of natural resource management, and will assist in the interpretation of LSC maps.