Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Landcare proof of community strength

It’s marvellous what can be done when you give the community an opportunity to get things done, retired politician Bruce Lloyd reflected this week.

CATHY WALKER March 26, 2014 4:05am

Planting trees is the iconic Landcare image but the work is far more complex.

It’s marvellous what can be done when you give the community an opportunity to get things done, retired politician Bruce Lloyd reflected this week.

Mr Lloyd, Federal Member for Murray from 1971 to 1996 and a former deputy leader of the National Party, was reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the Landcare movement, which he remains involved in through an international committee.

‘‘It’s exceeded expectations and is flexible enough that it can be used in countries around the world,’’ Mr Lloyd said.

He credited (then) VFF president Heather Mitchell and Victorian Premier Joan Kirner as driving the process behind establishing Landcare in Victoria.

‘‘I got involved when they wanted to make it national,’’ said Mr Lloyd, who at the time was shadow agriculture minister.

He said through co-operation between all sides of politics Landcare gained bipartisan support and became an important public recognition ‘‘that farmers were doing something positive’’.

Since 1989 the agriculture sector has reduced its carbon emission from 21 per cent to 16 per cent, Mr Lloyd said, thanks to 100million fewer sheep and the implementation of minimum tillage cropping.

But he warned Landcare was not without its difficulties: sustaining and recognising volunteers’ enthusiasm, responding to new issues and working with different bureaucracies, to name a few.

‘‘Volunteers get older and feel they have done their share; governments chop and change and the important issues change,’’ Mr Lloyd said.

Recognising the 25th anniversary of Landcare’s formation, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers’ Federation last week joined forces to call for a new decade of action to tackle the challenges confronting Australia’s land, water, wildlife and farmland.

NFF chief executive officer Matt Linnegar said in 1989 the ACF and NFF convinced the Hawke Federal Government to support a movement that would engage communities across Australia in activities to reverse the degradation of farmland, public land and waterways.

There are now more than 6000 Landcare and Coastcare groups around the country.

‘‘For a quarter of a century, Landcare has made Australia a better place, yet the scale of the task ahead is significant,’’ Mr Linnegar said.

‘‘To meet the growing international demand for food and fibre, Australian farmers will need to continue their efforts to ensure long-term sustainability.’’

ACF chief executive Don Henry said as founding members of the original Landcare partnership, ACF and NFF called on governments at all levels, the farming, conservation and corporate sectors, philanthropists and the broader community to strengthen the connections between farmers, traditional owners, urban Australians and all those working to improve the health of the environment.

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