Leading rangeland ecologist denounces misuse of his research to support HIR projects

August 3, 2023

Professor David Eldridge, a former Senior Principal Research Scientist at the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage and adjunct Professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales, has denounced the misuse of his work by the Clean Energy Regulator and the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. A video statement from Professor Eldridge can be accessed here.

Professor Eldridge is a leading expert in rangeland ecosystems, and the author of numerous studies examining the impacts of grazing on the structure and function of rangelands in Australia and across the globe. In recent weeks, and in response to criticisms of the human-induced regeneration (HIR) method, the Regulator and the Department have cited Professor Eldridge’s research in support of their claim that grazing pressure is stopping large areas of Australia’s rangelands from regenerating and achieving forest cover. This is a key rationale behind their flawed approach to the issuance of credits under the HIR method.

The Regulator and the Department stated the following.

Scientific literature supports the view that grazing animals can stop trees reaching a forest, such as a study by Eldridge et al. (2016), which found that that overall "ecosystem structure, function, and composition in rangelands are negatively affected by livestock grazing".

However, Professor Eldridge says that his research does not support this statement, nor justify the prevalence of HIR projects in uncleared rangelands, and should not be used by the Regulator and Department to make these claims.

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