National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST)
The National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST) is the peak government committee providing national leadership and coordination on the assessment of soil and terrain in Australia. It comprises representatives from all states and territories with core responsibilities in soil assessment and monitoring, as well as CSIRO, ABARES, Geoscience Australia and the federal Department of Agriculture. The NCST is one of the longest running government committees and is renowned for its stable membership and high level of expertise. It evolved from the Standing Committee of Soil Conservation to form the Working Group on Land Resource Assessment (WGLRA) in 1992, that then became the NCST in 2006. Specialist land resource assessment staff such as Noel Schoknecht (WA), David Maschmedt (SA) and Greg Chapman (NSW) were foundation members of the original WGLRA in 1992 and have continued to contribute strongly in the ensuing two decades. Neil McKenzie has also been actively involved in a number of roles throughout.
NCST plays a key role in developing an agreed framework and national standards for soil andterrain assessment, including monitoring. It also provides national leadership on soil and terrainmatters and encourages capacity building in soil and terrain matters within government agencies, educational institutions and the community.The NCST acts as the steering committee for the Australian Collaborative Land Evaluation Program(ACLEP) and identifies trends and technologies in soil and terrain assessment and monitoring, advising governments of implications for natural resource management and regional development issues. ACLEP provides the ‘doing arm’ around national standards, communication, training and development. ACLEP has operated since 1992 to foster collaboration in the collection, collation, management and dissemination of nationally consistent data and information on Australia’s soil and land resource. It has played an influential role across governments, research groups and industry to facilitate collaboration through the development and use of standards and promote discovery, access and the use of best-available and nationally consistent soil data and information. In recent times it has had a major focus on delivering the Australian Soil Resource Information System(ASRIS). ASRIS is a collaborative initiative across the responsible agencies, CSIRO and the Federal Government to develop a common data standard to which all significant surveys can be migrated.
The NCST has also played a key role in coordinating experts into working groups to inform government and industry, science and policy, in a range of fields such as soil classification, digital soil mapping, terrain assessment and monitoring soil condition (soil acidification, soil carbon, water erosion and wind erosion). It was also influential in commissioning the report ‘Managing Australia’s soils: a policy discussion paper’ prepared by Andrew Campbell (2008) to investigate the key soil resource and management issues and opportunities in Australia - aimed at engaging stakeholders and encouraging public debate on the role of soil management in Australia.
NCST members at the Soil Change Matters Symposium in Bendigo (March 2014)
From left to right: Noel Schoknecht (Department of Agriculture and Food, WA; Chair), John Wilford (Geoscience Australia), Dan Brough (DSITIA, Qld), Jane Stewart (ABARES), Mark Imhof (DEPI, Vic), Mike Grundy (CSIRO), Michele Barson (Department of Agriculture), Sandy Caruthers (DEWNR, SA), Brian Lynch (DLRM, NT; proxy for Jason Hill), Chris Grose (DPIPWE, Tas) and Brian Jenkins (OEH, NSW). Absent: Jason Hill (DLRM, NT) and Peter Wilson (CSIRO/ACLEP).
NCST current membership:
Noel Schoknecht (DAF, WA) Chair
Sandy Caruthers (DEWNR, SA)
Mark Imhof (DEPI, Vic)
Brian Jenkins (OEH, NSW)
Dan Brough (DSITIA, Qld)
Chris Grose (DPIPWE, Tas)
Jason Hill (DLRM, NT)
Alison McInnes (ESDD, ACT)
John Wilford (Geoscience Australia)
Jane Stewart (ABARES)
Mike Grundy (CSIRO)
Peter Wilson (CSIRO/ACLEP)
Michele Barson (AG)