Fig. 6. Postulated changes in levels of social, human, physical, financial, and natural capital during the history of the pastoral social-ecological system in New South Wales, Australia.
The axes indicate selected years before and after the Ω and α stages. We believe that the Ω was caused by the depletion of natural capital near permanent water and triggered by the drought and recession of 1895–1902. The α phase that followed was dependent on imported resources. We speculate that a second Ω may now be in the offing. The level of natural capital refers only to that natural capital accessible to pastoralists at a particular time. Access to natural capital has been increased by the construction of artificial water points (physical capital), which has been the main means of maintaining the system in a K phase. The marginal benefit of additional water points is probably approaching zero. Levels of capital are represented relative to the maximum level reached during the period of history we analyze. Levels of capital can be compared within but not between categories of capital. The lines joining the time axes represent the trend between years correctly, but they do not track fluctuations. These levels are based on our opinions and interpretations of history.