Natural Resources SA Arid Lands is the agency that delivers a diverse range of programs and projects on behalf of the regional NRM Board and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, which includes National Parks and the Pastoral Board for the SA Arid Lands NRM region.
The SA Arid Lands region cover over half of South Australia, taking up the state’s north-east corner to its borders with New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The region’s environmental processes are determined by irregular rainfall and other episodic weather events that rarely follow predictable annual cycles. The region includes some of the driest parts of South Australia and has the largest percentage of intact ecosystems and natural biodiversity in the state. These iconic terrestrial ecosystems – including sandy deserts, stony plains, and the Gawler, Flinders and Olary ranges – are home to a range of unique plants and animals, many of which are only found within the region.
The human population in this semi arid region is small (less than 2% of the state) and geographically dispersed. The largest towns, Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs, are both associated with mining and are home to less than 5000 people, while the remaining scattered towns all have less than 1000 occupants.
Pastoralism is the most dominant land use, with over 400,000 square kilometres taken up by sheep and cattle stations. Large mining and petroleum companies also operate in the arid lands. Aboriginal land holdings are diverse and include pastoral leases, community managed land, indigenous protected areas and co-managed parks.
The region contains some of the state’s most environmentally significant natural resources including conservation reserves and national parks, as well as two great inland water systems: Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre and the Great Artesian Basin.
Managing natural resources in the region
Maintaining the soils, native vegetation and native wildlife in the SAAL region is critical to the sustainability of our industries and communities. Unlike agricultural regions further south, healthy native vegetation is critical to our pastoral industry, providing valuable fodder for fattening cattle and sheep.
The environment is also strongly linked to the region’s culture and history; for its many occupants, our heritage and stories are strongly connected to country.