Queensland's Citizen Science Hub

Geoff Edwards

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Leaflet No. 63 of the Commonwealth’s Forestry and Timber Bureau, Illustrations of the Buds and Fruits of Eucalyptus Species with an Alphabetical Index is a classic work, widely consulted by botanists and bushlovers in its day. It covers 486 species and varieties. It was issued over the name of M.R. Jacobs, Director-General, as was the custom in those days. This version is the Fourth Edition, published in June 1962, of 18.6 MB.

Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts has been advocating for an ethic of stewardship, a new relationship of Australians with their land, for more than four decades. Prof Roberts has been an intellectual leader of the Landcare movement from its beginning.

Soil Conservation: People, Religion and Land (31.4MB) has been retrieved from Trove’s website capture, having originally been uploaded to South West NRM’s Mulga Lands Information Hub.

On 5 Dec. 2023 Prof Roberts gave permission to QSN to publish two one-page extracts from his 1993 book Ground Rules. He said these two pages are a fair summary of his best writings.


QASSMAC was a multilateral advisory committee animated by the soil scientists within the Department of Natural Resources. It set out to improve the management of these naturally occurring high risk soils. The State Planning Policy was identified as one of the main regulatory tools available. An early document was QASSMAC Acid Sulfate Soils Management Strategy for Queensland, April 1999.

State Planning Policy 2/02 Planning and Managing Development Involving Acid Sulfate Soils, November 2002.

SPP 2/02 Guideline: Planning and Managing Development Involving Acid Sulfate Soils, August 2002.

SPP 2/02 Checklist Form for Acid Sulfate Soils, June 2004. This was a precursor to Resource Planning Guideline E74: Checklist for Lodging Applications: Acid Sulphate Soils, March 2005.

General Information Required to Assist Assessment of Development Proposals
Involving Acid Sulfate Soils, June 2004. This was a precursor to Resource Planning Guideline E11, Referral Information Generally Required on Acid Sulphate Soil Matters, May 2005.


(Editorial footnote: Australian English uses the ph spelling for “sulphur” and its derivatives,  but the scientific community has standardised on “sulfur”, so the scientists won over the policy officers when a new State Planning Policy on the prevention of damage from disturbing potential acid sulphate soils was formulated).

Town planning legislation in the early 1990s (the Local Government (Planning and Environment) Act 1990) provided that the State Government could promulgate “statements of planning policy” which local governments as the local planning authorities would be obliged to incorporate into their planning schemes and development decisions. The first such instrument (which by s.1A.2 had the status of subordinate legislation) was aimed at protecting “Good Quality Agricultural Land”. This page revives a number of documents dating from 1992 on the subject.

First came a non-statutory “Planning Bulletin” in 1991. A great push came from the sugar millers concerned about the viability of the processing facilities due to declining acreages growing cane and the risk of falling below the threshold  supply needed to sustain a profitable mill. In the friable vegetable-growing soils of Redlands, damage had already been done through existing subdivision policies that allowed for the creation of small 4 ha farms for strawberry growing. This size was admirably suited for rural residential housing so the inevitable happened.

State Planning Policy 1/92 Development and the Conservation of Agricultural Land. The policy was later supplemented by Planning Guidelines: The Identification of Good Quality Agricultural Land, January 1993 and Planning Guidelines: Separating Agricultural and Residential Land Uses, August 1997.

Land Planning Guideline E62 The Protection of Good Quality Agricultural Land, April 1998 – An internal procedural paper that was distributed to departmental staff but not brought to finality (evidence is the incomplete pagination).

Protecting Queensland’s strategic cropping land: A policy framework, August 2010.

After the Newman government came to power  in 2012, it abolished the State Planning Policies. However, while the original SPP1/92 lapsed in 2012, the same principles were carried forward into the agricultural land component of the replacement generic SPP and have been incorporated into each planning scheme.

Guidelines for Agricultural Land Evaluation in Queensland, December 2015.

State Planning Policy July 2017, the consolidated policy of that period.

See also the dedicated page on coal seam gas and agricultural land.

This page presents the findings of several programs aimed at capturing knowledge about the condition and trend of Australia’s pastoral lands. For policy documents such as the Draft National Rangelands Strategy, see the website of The Royal Society of Queensland.

Here we will reproduce documents published under the historical programs of The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) and the National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA), along with a contemporary program GEOGLAM.


The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) retains a website which states that it derived from a proposal by the National Land and Water Resources Audit:

“Extreme climatic variability in the rangelands makes it difficult to separate change resulting from seasonal climate variation from that driven by human activities. New ground in documenting change and its causes has been broken by the creation of the Australian Collaborative Rangeland Information System (ACRIS), which was first mooted in the 2001 report, Tracking Changes in the Rangelands. The ACRIS represents a new and important contribution to rangeland management and capacity to monitor change through scientifically rigorous data and information.”

Rangelands – Tracking Changes: A summary of the proposal for monitoring Australia’s rangelands (2.6 MB) was a summary report of 11 pages, 2001. 

It appears that this information system has not been active for several years or at least is not readily available. The DCCEEW rangelands/ACRIS website was last updated on 10 October 2021. With governments’ piecemeal approaches to the management of rangelands, manifestly inadequate given the wide-ranging implications of climate change, there is still a powerful need for an extensive rangeland information system.

The ABC published an informative story in 2014: “Acris-rangelands-funding-cut” (live link) or captured version (PDF). It ought to be a public scandal that tools like this suffer budget cuts. However, by that date, some immensely valuable reports had been produced.

ACRIS report: Rangelands – Tracking Changes

175+ page Rangelands- Tracking Changes, September 2001. BibID: 419563  CALL NUMBER: NMT 4566 ISBN: 0642371148

QSN thanks the National Library of Australia for unearthing this significant document. This material has been provided pursuant to section 49 of the Copyright Act 1968 for the purpose of research or study. The Library has advised that this work is under copyright. No part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Note: As the original file is 283 MB, it has been split into several parts and “optimised” with some loss of crispness.

Summary (2.6 MB)

Pages 1-50, 38 MB (actual pages front cover-34)

Pages 50-100, 49 MB (actual pages numbers 34-84)

Pages 100-150, 43 MB (actual pages numbers 84-134)

Pages 150-196, 29 MB (actual pages numbers 134-175+)

Appendices- data reconstructed from accompanying CD.

The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS): Reporting Change in the Rangelands. 2013.


ACRIS contemporary website (as at 3 October 2021): Reporting Change in the Rangelands.


To come.


The National Land and Water Resources Audit also initiated the Australian  Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment, 2002.

Contemporary GEOGLAM program

Around 2018 CSIRO and its program collaborators launched an interactive map and other tools to provide real time condition and trend data (monthly reporting) – including fractional differentiation of cover into photosynthesising vegetation (PV), non-photosynthesising vegetation (NPV) and bare soil with rangelands firmly in focus. Amazingly, it all launches on an iPhone4s proving that the Data61 hosting addresses access and operability issues of sophisticated systems that are often stymied by many factors (including people refusing to get new technology every couple of years to keep up with ‘security’ etc).

This rangelands-focussed toolkit was funded out of the Australian National Landcare Program.

The GEOGLAM RaPP platform keys into user needs at the local level (500m resolution); scalable for global monitoring purposes, providing spatial and other data outputs.

1. Program


2. Interactive tool here showing spatial extent of fractional cover (monthly) , rainfall (monthly) and a suite of other factors or attributes.


3. Explanatory document Monitoring groundcover: an online tool for Australian regions https://publications.csiro.au/publications/publication/PIcsiro:EP187950  or access the document via the QSN database.

The accompanying story of Dr Geoff Monteith’s achievements in taxonomy (https://scienceqld.org/2023/11/16/palm-bug/) has prompted QSN to showcase a book by Steven Heard, Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider. https://scientistseessquirrel.wordpress.com/charles-darwins-barnacle/

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Preface (read it here!)
Introduction: A Lemur and Its Name
Chapter 1. The Need for Names
Chapter 2. How Scientific Naming Works
Chapter 3. Forsythia, Magnolia, and Names Within Names
Chapter 4. Gary Larson’s Louse
Chapter 5. Maria Sibylla Merian and the Metamorphosis of Natural History
Chapter 6. David Bowie’s Spider, Beyoncé’s Fly, and Frank Zappa’s Jellyfish (read an excerpt here!)
hapter 7. Spurlingia: a Snail for the Otherwise Forgotten
Chapter 8. The Name of Evil
Chapter 9. Richard Spruce and the Love of Liverworts
Chapter 10. Names from the Ego
Chapter 11. Eponymy Gone Wrong? Robert von Beringe’s Gorilla and Dian Fossey’s Tarsier
Chapter 12. Less Than a Tribute: the Temptation of Insult Naming (read an excerpt here!)
Chapter 13. Charles Darwin’s Tangled Bank
Chapter 14. Love in a Latin Name
Chapter 15. The Indigenous Blind Spot
Chapter 16. Harry Potter and the Name of the Species
Chapter 17. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and the Fish from the Depths of Time
Chapter 18. Names.


Male Thaumastocorid bug from Norfolk Island.  Anthony Postle, from fruiting inflorescence of Rhopalostylis baueri ©

Dr Geoff Monteith, a member of The Royal Society of Queensland since 1964 – nearly 60 years – with two co-authors has recently published a description of a species of bug endemic to the rainforests of Norfolk Island. The paper is titled:

“Hiding among the palms: the remarkable discovery of a new palm bug genus and species (Insecta: Heteroptera: Thaumastocoridae: Xylastodorinae) from remote Norfolk Island; systematics, natural history, palm specialism and biogeography.”

It is open access and can be downloaded freely from the doi address https://doi.org/10.1071/IS23040 (15MB) or from the QSN Database.

This latest publication is only the latest in a long string  of Dr Monteith’s achievements in taxonomy. The ABC article https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-04/scientist-geoff-monteith-ranked-alongside-charles-darwin/12726162 is self explanatory and outlines the international recognition that Geoff Monteith has received for his entomological work.

Membership of a knowledge society reaps dividends

Dr Monteith joined The Royal Society of Queensland in 1964 when he first started work in the Entomology Department of the University of Queensland. In 2024, he will have been a member for 60 years. He has written “Most of other staff of that Department were members and we went to most of the monthly evening meetings…as a matter of course.” This observation is testament to the value of joining a scientific or natural history society. In 2021, his network with the Royal Society was able to support him in his fieldwork on Norfolk Island.

A world of invertebrates is waiting to be discovered

Steven Heard, author of Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider, https://scientistseessquirrel.wordpress.com/charles-darwins-barnacle/, the book referenced in the ABC article above, has authorised QSN to publish the following extract:

“There are far more insect species than plant species needing names: perhaps half a million living plant species (400,000 of them named so far) compared to—well, we don’t know quite what to compare it to. There are at least two million living insect species, quite likely ten million, and possibly as many as 100 million. Of course, only a little under a million of them have been described and named so far; but still, entomologists have had a lot to work with. Sure enough, at least two entomologists have joined the 200-eponyms club: Willy Kuschel and Geoffrey Monteith. …Willy Kuschel (1918–2017) worked in Chile and New Zealand studying the weevils… 

“Geoffrey Monteith is the most recent name on my list of contenders, and the only one still active in science—and this makes his place in the field a bit surprising. Humboldt, Wallace, Pringle, and the rest have had a long time to accumulate eponymously named species. With the possible exception of Steyermark and Kuschel, they also worked at times when much of the world was just being opened up to Western biological exploration—exploration in which they all played notable parts. In comparison, Monteith is a babe in arms. He’s an Australian entomologist, born in 1942, but already with 225 species and 15 genera named for him. This avalanche of namings seems, largely, to reflect two facets of Monteith’s career. First, he’s been curator of two of Australia’s largest museum collections of insects and invertebrates, and in that position enthusiastically sent collections off to expert taxonomists who would sort and identify them—invariably discovering in those drawers and boxes species new to science, and often naming some of them for Monteith. Second, like Kuschel he collected thousands upon thousands of specimens himself, leading expeditions into the mountains of North Queensland and New Caledonia at a time when their faunas were virtually unknown to Western science—remnants of the scientifically untrampled ground the whole world had been when Wallace and Darwin and the Hookers were busily amassing their collections. As Monteith puts it: 

I was a field-oriented biologist at a time when there were many unknown mountains to climb. I had a bunch of people over the years who absolutely loved, like me . . . busting our guts to get to new places, loved camping light to make room for collecting gear in our packs, loved squatting around a little fire under a nylon fly cooking our dinner while the rain sprayed in and soaked our bums . . . loved spraying mossy tree trunks and seeing an unknown fauna of tiny critters tumble down. . . . Every one of those very old tropical mountains in north Queensland had a whole unknown fauna of strange insects and arachnids. . . . And when we had almost exhausted those mountains the opportunity came to go to New Caledonia . . . and we found a similarly uncollected bunch of even higher, wet, tropical mountains stretching the 500 mile length of that bizarre and isolated island.

“Naming a new species for its collector is a common thing, and Monteith had the drive and the opportunity to collect a lot of new species.”

Now if that story doesn’t stimulate the reader to take up science or natural history and head bush, then join one of QSN member bodies and surround yourself with people who will inspire you to do just that.

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