A Year on in Landcare

April 28, 2008

"A thousand kilometres of fencing. Imagine a fence running from Brisbane to Bingara and then on to Sydney. That’s how much fencing was installed to protect native vegetation within the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority last year." reported Lisa Roberts, General Manager of the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority at the opening of "Landcare Adventure" in Bingara a few weeks ago. The following are excerpts from Ms Roberts’ speech.

Many of the landholders who partnered with the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority to install this fencing were members of their local Landcare group.

There can be little doubt that water, water availability, water use and water quality is the issue fundamental to all other environmental issues both in Australia and across the globe.

As "Landcare Adventure" people will acknowledge, improving natural resource management by protecting riparian zones from stock, by planting native trees and shrubs and by installing earthbanks and dams all play an important part in improving water quality and water availability.

Installing 1000kms of fencing last year saw some 5,600 hectares of riparian land fenced, an achievement that lead to improved water quality and stream condition.

The BR-G CMA also funded land holders to install 129 dams, 247 kilometres of polypipe and 472 stock watering troughs.

Following the implementation of programs last year, more than 76,300 hectares of perennial groundcover and more than 14,000 hectares of new perennial pasture have been established to reduce salinity and improve water quality.

In addition to these exceptional achievements 9,300 hectares of remnant vegetation is now being managed for conservation or reduced grazing pressure.

And "sweat" equity has been invested too – almost 237,000 native plants and shrubs are now in the ground, contributing to the more than 1230 hectares of revegetation of native vegetation.

Impressive achievements to have been accomplished in a single year, which is why I say we are turning fence posts into goal posts. Every kilometre of fencing, and each plant or shrub now in the ground, is another incremental step towards achieving the 10-year action plan for our catchment.

The first five years of a 15-year investment strategy for catchments across NSW concludes in June 2008. That’s just 12 weeks away.

By ensuring that our investment matches national priorities announced in the new Caring for our Country program, we will be commencing the next phase for Landcare with a new investment strategy from now to 2013 which will focus on sub-catchments.

Success in operating at a sub-catchment level will require the already sound partnership between the BR-G CMA and the Landcare network to mature and flourish.

While the first five-year investment strategy delivered significant achievements, the model was mostly involved the BR-G CMA working with individual landholders.

We had the capacity to fund projects that would deliver set natural resource management outcomes, and individual landholders were able to apply for funding and work with our case officers and technical advisers to develop projects.

The second stage, this next five-year investment strategy program, is about working with groups of landholders to address landscape-wide issues.

For almost two decades, Landcare has been bringing groups of landholders to work together on projects that deliver a benefit to their locality. A stronger partnership between the BR-G CMA and the Landcare Network is what we wish to achieve in the future.

A stronger emphasis on developing and funding programs that address soil and land use issues, water quality issues common to a number of properties. These foundations are being developed now with the likes of the Halls Creek Sub-Catchment project in partnership with Upper Gwydir Landcare Association and our other partnerships with each Landcare network in the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment.

We know our European land subdivisions are not reflected in the natural world. The natural world defines itself in relation to catchments and sub-catchments.

Now it is time for us to acknowledge that if we want to work with our natural resources, we have to acknowledge the natural systems that have operated for thousands of years prior to European settlement. Natural systems work co-operatively within sub-catchments and catchments.

Moving forward from 2008, natural resource management within the BR-G CMA will be delivered co-operatively with partners, including Landcare networks, and industry on a sub-catchment and catchment scale.

With the daily mass media now firmly focussed on the implications of climate change, the delivery of sustainable natural resource management is essential.

In 2002 a University of Texas botanist estimated that across the globe a species was being made extinct every 20 minutes. Just consider this … in the time I have been speaking one species has become extinct, and another is well on its way.

To foster natural resource resilience in this region, it is imperative we continue to work together co-operatively and effectively.

Compliments of The Bingara Advocate