I was fortunate to attend the National Landcare Forum in Adelaide in March this year. I was able to attend due to sponsorship from the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) and the North Central Landcare Group. The theme of the Forum was celebrate, communicate and invigorate – and I can confidently say I did a bit of the first two and came away with some of the third! Landcare in Australia is at a crossroad. It has come through a very prosperous first 20 years and now is the opportunity for communities to positively look forward and take sustainable farming and caring for our environment (they go hand in hand) forward through landcare.
Part of the Landcare Forum was to give the 650 strong attendees an opportunity to focus on the future of landcare and the challenges ahead. Tony Burke, Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister addressed the Forum, and I certainly was impressed with his knowledge and first hand experience of landcare efforts of farmers across Australia. I’m sure everyone present would have liked him to tell us the Government were committing big dollars to Landcare. Unfortunately he didn’t do that. But he did make the point that landcare co-ordinators play an important role in local communities in supporting landcare groups and should be funded (the Government is re-instating Federal Government support for 56 landcare facilitators across Australia). He also said that food, climate, environment, provide the three pillars for Landcare into the next 20 years.
I heard many speakers over the 2 days who spoke optimistically about the role that landcare can play in our future. Some of the popular topics were carbon and the opportunities that can bring us and the issues the world faces in regard to food security. We heard from farmers who have seen the benefits of landcare on their farms through improved sustainability of their farms over many years. It was inspiring to hear their passion and motivation for protecting and enhancing their farms through tree planting, soil health, and improved biodiversity.
I have come away from the Forum with ideas and enthusiasm for the future of Landcare and plan to support the East Loddon Community to seek funding and to implement landcare projects in our area.
Article by Penny Wall, Landcare Coordinator and Deputy Chair LPLN