Environmental Duty of Care: From Ethical Principle Towards a Code of Practice for the Grazing Industry in Queensland (Australia)



Among the options of government for reducing negative environmental externalities from agriculture is the institution of a polluter statutory liability. An environmental duty of care imposes a statutory liability on agents who interact with the environment to avoid causing environmental harm. This paper documents environmental duty of care provisions governing landholders in Queensland, Australia, with specific reference to the 2007 Queensland State Rural Leasehold Land Strategy. The paper reports on a positive response by a group of leaseholders within the Northern Gulf Region in Queensland who developed a prototype environmental code of practice for grazing—a land use not previously covered by such an institution in Australia. The paper concludes that (1) a statutory environmental duty of care and specific forms of leasehold tenure are elements of an effective strategy for implementing an agricultural environmental ethics in north Australia’s rangelands and (2) a grazing industry code of practice is a practical and important tool for the grazing industry to safeguard its social licence to operate.


Land tenure Delbessie Agreement Farmers Pastoralists Stewardship Ecosystem services Conservation Liability Land administration Leasehold Agriculture 



This initiative was resourced by the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (http://www.northerngulf.com.au) with funding under the Australian Government’s NHT2 program. Thanks go to the collaborators on the project, respondents in the survey and members of the Four Rivers Group. The map in Fig. 1 was kindly provided by Peter Macdonald (DERM) and the NGRMG overlay included with the help of Mike Digby (NGRMG). Helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript were provided by Raelene Webb QC and four anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for the Environment and LivelihoodsCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.The Cairns Institute and School of Earth and Environmental ScienceJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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