Australia's cattle and sheep industry, occupying around 50% of land used in Australia, has a large impact on biodiversity and the subsequent ecosystem services that benefits both the producers and broader communities. This ranges from the direct impacts of land clearing, overgrazing and trampling, to indirect impacts such as the introduction of weeds, changes to fire regimes, altered hydrological flows and major impacts on soil. The State of Environment report indicates grazing has a high impact.
Biodiversity can be defined as the functioning of all living things through providing "ecosystem services". Those services are creating clean air, clean water, shelter to food and fibre and cultural value. Biodiversity exists in the soil, vegetation supported by the soil, wildlife that access soil, vegetation and habitat.
- The cattle and sheep industry has implemented a range of initiatives including research into sustainable land management practices and understanding biodiversity on farms, how grazing approaches can help or hinder biodiversity and information products describing how the industry can minimise the impacts on biodiversity
- Livestock farmers are dedicating areas of their property to revegetation, fencing remnant and revegetated areas to exclude stock and feral animals and planting tree belts to protect stock to provide shelter for native fauna.
- A survey in 2010 has shown sheep and beef producers in Australia are prepared to incorporate environmental practices on their property, and that some type of incentive to offset managing biodiversity for broader community benefits would be beneficial
- 34% of Australian cattle and sheep farmers are members of Landcare groups (National Landcare survey 2013).
- A comprehensive independent survey of the environmental practices of Australian cattle and sheep farmers in 2010 found:
- 37% of farmers have areas of conservation significance on their farm
- 73% of these farmers protecting areas of conservation significance
- 65% of farmers involved in a regional natural resource management organisation stated that this involvement had led them to undertake ground works, including:
- Fencing – 48%
- Water access points – 21%
- Tree planting – 19%
- Encourage native vegetation – 18%