Covering the salinity crisis

31 Jul, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE cover of The Salinity Crisis ‹ Landscapes, Communities and Politics says so much ‹ under a clear blue sky, the devastation, salt-encrusted ground and dead vegetation.

Perhaps readers don't want to be reminded of it by the book's authors Quentin Beresford, Hugo Bekle, Harry Phillips and Jane Mulcock.

Dr Beresford specialises in public policy and has written many books. He won a 1998 WA premier's award for his writings.

Dr Hugo Bekle's specialty is environmental geography, particularly wetlands, while associate professor Harry Phillips is widely known for his knowledge of the nation's and WA's politics.

Jane Mulcock is completing doctoral studies in anthropology at university.

Using their diverse range of backgrounds, they tackle a subject which has plagued farmers, their advisers and research workers for much of the 20th century.

The authors see salinity as a multi-dimensional crisis. Not only do they provide an overview of the crisis, but challengingly, they give us a solution too.

The book is divided into four parts: an overview, the spread of salinity and responses to it, 1900-1990s, contemporary issues posed by salinity and towards a sustainable future.

Landowners know the outlook where salinity exists is a bleak one.

The authors agree that: "It is not yet certain that the efforts of environmental officials and local communities will be supported with a commensurate level of political commitment to ensure planning and legislative frameworks are in place and working effectively."

On solutions, they write: "The undeniable reality may be that viable treatments, from which farmers can generate long-term benefits, are only available for a small proportion of the area where salinity is developing."

Publication of the book was made possible by generous funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Dryland Salinity.

It is available at all good book stores.

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