Edited by Mary Jane Angelo and Anél Du Plesis
Chapter 14: Agricultural land use conflict in the context of climate change: an Australian case study
Within the broader context of climate change, the recent rapid expansion of extractive fossil fuel industries (such as coal and unconventional gas) in agricultural communities throughout Australia has raised significant concerns over agricultural production capacity and food security. With many new coal and gas developments proposed either on or within close proximity to agriculturally productive land, both atmospheric impacts as well as direct land conversion have catalysed new and complicated land use conflicts, which existing regulatory frameworks have failed to resolve. Drawing upon a case study from the North West area of the state of New South Wales in Australia, this chapter examines conflict over agricultural land in the context of global climate change. It focuses particularly on regulatory reforms to better manage land use conflict, but finds that attempts at reform have thus far enjoyed little success in resolving land use disputes. Using an environmental justice lens, the chapter explores how community capacity to participate effectively in land use decision making was further constrained by reform efforts. By prioritising the broader economic benefits of extractive development, the values and views of agricultural communities were marginalised and discounted, serving to intensify opposition to development and entrenching broad-scale social conflict. The chapter concludes that the complex issue of agricultural land use conflict requires governance approaches that are grounded in principles of environmental justice. Greater attention to the distribution of environmental risks and harms, and the incorporation of mechanisms to ensure equal treatment in decision-making processes, will ultimately strengthen the capacity of agricultural communities to respond to environmental threats such as climate change. Key Words: agricultural land use conflict, environmental justice
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