Farmers key to shaping our environmental future

Australian farmers are on the frontline of delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the wider community – owning, managing and caring for 61% of the nation’s land.

A recent report, funded by AgriFutures Australia’s National Rural Issues Program, identified areas of common ground between NRM programs and industry-led sustainability initiatives. According to Michael Beer, General Manager, Business Development for AgriFutures Australia, given the large amount of land under management by Australian farmers, new initiatives from primary producers had the ability to positively leverage environmental outcomes for the nation as a whole.

“Industries including dairy, eggs, cotton and beef are stepping forward to create sustainability frameworks,” said Mr Beer. “These frameworks are informing research and development priorities and, in turn, shaping best management practice guidelines.”

The report by GHD has identified potential policies to boost collaboration between industry, research and development corporations (RDCs) and NRM regional bodies, and proposes a roadmap of ten key recommendations;

Industry
1. Engage NRM regional bodies early in the development and implementation of sustainability initiatives, including in steering committees and consultative groups as appropriate.
2. Consider the role of NRM regional bodies in extension and adoption activities, including exploring more effective ways to share R&D findings relating to improved practices.
3. Map where there is commonality across sectors in indicators and data requirements.
4. Coordinate and participate in forums for ongoing engagement with NRM regional bodies.

NRM regional bodies
5. Involve industry in regional strategic planning and program development.
6. Invest in a catalogue or inventory of available data that could be made available to industry under appropriate partnership arrangements.
7. Coordinate and participate in forums for ongoing engagement with industry RDCs and other peak bodies leading the development of sector specific sustainability initiatives.

Government
8. Provide coordination and leadership through the development of a national sustainable agriculture strategy that demonstrates clear linkages with international standards and goals.
9. Progress the development of a national set of environmental accounts to underpin this strategy aiding alignment of indicators and data requirements across sectors and regions.
10. Consider how current and future program settings can be used to improve the strategic alignment of the goals and priorities contained in industry-led sustainability frameworks and NRM regional plans.

In concluding, Mr Beer added “The findings of the report are relevant to all agriculture, fish and forestry industries across Australia, particularly those that have developed, or intend to develop, industry-wide sustainability initiatives, including strategies, frameworks and Best Management Practice programs and guidelines.”

The report is available to download from the AgriFuture website here.

Image credit: North Queensland Dry Tropics NRM

National NRM snapshot – July 2019

Local communities key to halting decline of WA’s natural resources.

NRM WA has just released its 2019 Election Strategy of ‘Enabling Prosperity’, setting out an ambitious, four-year election ask to address environmental issues that limit environmental, economic and social prosperity. The release occurs in the shadow of an alarming report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released earlier this month.

‘Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely’, the IPBES warns.
‘The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,’ said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. ‘The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.’
‘It’s not too late to make a difference, and local and regional NRM groups are still in the fight across WA, despite major funding cuts over the last few years,’ said Dr Rob Keogh, Chair of NRM WA.

NRM WA is the peak body representing the seven regional NRM organisations across WA. Collectively we represent thousands of community groups, landholders and volunteers. NRM is the sustainable management of natural resources such as land, water, marine and biological systems. It brings together the people and places of Western Australia to find practical solutions to common issues faced by land and sea managers.

Dr Keogh went on to say: ‘Local and regional communities of WA have an urgent message to all parties contesting the 2019 election- that more can be done, WA shows clear indications of being negatively affected by a rapidly changing climate. We profoundly value our landscapes and communities. Help us and work with us, by providing additional funding for our practical initiatives to combat and adapt to that change.’

Find the Enabling Prosperity strategy at: https://www.enablingprosperity.com

 

Introducing the NRM Regions’ National Chair

Emma Jackson became Chair of NRM Regions Australia in January, after stepping into the role from Deputy Chair. She also serves as Chair on the Cape York Natural Resource Management Board and was on the Steering Committee of the group who successfully established the organisation in 2009. Emma is a qualified teacher, who currently home-schools two of her four children and manages the daily operations of the cattle property which is owned and operated by the family. Emma studied Psychology and is qualified in Health and Fitness and teaching.

Since arriving in Australia from the UK in 2002, Emma has developed a fundamental role in exporting cattle out of far north Queensland and bringing together a collaboration of partnerships between organisations, properties and individuals across agriculture and land management. She organises an annual event for mental health awareness, writes for the local newspaper and engages with local members and policy advisors in State and Federal Government.

You can find out more about Emma on the Cape York NRM website.

2019 NRM Knowledge Conference

7th National Knowledge Conference Registration Website now open

The 7th National NRM Knowledge conference will be held at The Cube, Wodonga, Victoria from 17 to 20 November 2019 and will address the theme Creating Resilience through Natural Resource Management – how do we do it?

We’d love you to be involved no matter where you come from or how you contribute to natural resource management – in your local bush group, on your tractor, crunching data, managing Indigenous lands, running grants programs…It’s a diverse sector working across the country.

We’re planning a highly interactive conference with very different types of sessions and we hope to see you there

Our Conference website is now open for registrations. To register – click here to go to the site.

The Conference will start with a Welcome Reception on the evening of Sunday 17 November 2019 and close in the afternoon of Wednesday 20 November 2019. Early bird registration (available until 26 August 2019) is $850 (plus GST). Normal registration is $950 (plus GST). We are also offering a discounted rate of $550 (plus GST) for students and concession card holders.  Day registration options are also available.

Please note that the Conference program is still under development and we will be adding details to the site in the coming months (keynote speakers, field trip and details of the various workshop sessions). Once these details are in place, we will send you an invitation to update your registration so that you can select your preferred sessions and field trips.

Extending the Call for Abstracts

We have had a good response to the Call for Abstracts but would like more. The Organising Committee has agreed to extend the closing date for abstracts to Friday 12 July 2019. To submit an abstract click here.

 

Image credit: Matt Lane, Murray Local Land Services

Game-changing landscape management workshops held across Australia

Feature image: The NRM and Geoscience Australia group at the Sydney workshop (13 March 2019)

NRM Regions Australia and Geoscience Australia have completed five collaborative workshops with natural resource managers from across the nation to make use of geoscience data to help manage our natural resources.

The workshops provided a better understanding of how geoscience data can inform the management of Australia’s groundwater resources, soil health, and our agricultural regions.

Geoscience Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Steve Hill, said the workshops held in Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, aimed to improve how regional NRM organisations and Geoscience Australia work together.

“It’s great to see the different applications that can benefit from information that Geoscience Australia has made freely available,” Dr Hill said.

“For example, our satellite data can detect detailed physical changes across landscapes and can help regional NRM organisations monitor what’s happening on the ground and plan accordingly.

“We also covered off on soil and mineral mapping, machine learning, elevation data and making use of available spatial datasets.”

Chair of NRM Regions Australia, Emma Jackson, said natural resource managers need this information to plan activities across the landscape, monitor outcomes and adapt strategies based on changing conditions.

“To do this, natural resource managers need to understand issues such as soil and coastal erosion, measuring crop growth, tracking water quality and monitoring changes to cities and regions,” Ms Jackson said.

“These workshops were the first phase of an ongoing collaboration that will tackle some of the biggest challenges facing natural resource management in a changing climate.

“This collaboration is just what we need to be able to show the results of the great work we’ve been doing on the ground over many years – and will help us plan and improve what we do, where we do it and how.”

The collaboration between Geoscience Australia and NRM Regions Australia launched in May 2018 at the National NRM Chairs’ Forum, with the aim to utilise the power of data for the good of the environment.

Media release originally published on the GeoScience Australia website here.

Contribute to the PestSmart survey

If you don’t already know about it, we recommend checking out PestSmart Connect which distils 12 years of research on best practice pest animal management. PestSmart prides itself on making freely available pest animal information toolkits which incorporate factsheets, case studies, glovebox guides, videos and more – all available online – www.pestsmart.org.au. Information is available on wild dogs, rabbits, foxes, feral pigs…the list goes on. The toolkits are becoming well known and utilised as a digital resource for land managers wanting to learn more about pest animal management.  

This is your chance to enhance PestSmart and help the team tailor the update of the website to suit your needs.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions are conducting research into digital information and tools that might be useful for people with a role or interest in pest animal management. They want to hear from both users and non-users of PestSmart – so please take a few minutes to complete this short anonymous survey, open until the 10 March.

FILL OUT THE SURVEY HERE

New report shows high cost of weed control

The National Farmers’ Federation and NRM Regions Australia have joined a growing call for collaborative investment in a fully funded CISS weeds RD&E program.

A new report released this week by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions has found that the agricultural cost of weeds is on average, $4.8 billion per year, or $13 million a day.

National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar said the figure was up 20% from the last comprehensive national economic analysis carried out in 2004.

“The cost of weeds to farmers’ back pockets is growing and we need smarter, more strategic national investment in research, development and extension solutions to manage them,” Mr Mahar said.

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) Chief Executive Officer Andreas Glanznig said weed biocontrol was one such example.

“To build on the $10 billion worth of benefits weed biocontrol RD&E has delivered to agriculture to date, Australia needs a new 10+ year national program to generate an on-going pipeline of biocontrol agents after current key major projects wind up in 2020,” Mr Glanznig said.

A more strategic approach is in line with a request by the Federal Government for the CISS to develop a 10-year national investment plan for weeds RD&E, a draft of which is currently open for feedback.

“The new National Weeds RD&E Investment Plan will play a part in unlocking agricultural innovation, a priority in NFF’s 2030 Roadmap, a plan for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farmgate output by 2030,” Mr Mahar said. 

“A new national CISS weeds RD&E program will ensure new innovative tools are delivered on-farm, quicker, putting money back into the pockets of Australian farmers.”

NRM Regions Executive Officer, Kate Andrews stressed the need for collaborative and strategic action on weeds to protect the environment and agriculture.

“Tomorrow’s weeds are already here, and we know that some 20 new weeds naturalise in the environment each year. That is 1 new weed every 18 days!

“We support a CISS National Weeds RD&E Investment Plan and welcome the Centre’s leadership in this space,” Dr Andrews said.

Download the new weeds economic impact report here www.invasives.com.au/our-publications

To view the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions draft weeds investment plan visit – www.invasives.com.au/weeds-rde-feedback

QUICK FACTS

·         The cost of managing weeds and associated production losses are collectively costing Australian farmers $4.8 billion per year or about $13 million per day.

·         Overall, the cost of weeds has increased 20% since the last economic impact report undertaken in 2004, 15 years ago.

·          On average 1 new weed naturalises in the environment every 18 days.

·         This new economic impact assessment was led by Dr Ross McLeod from eSYS development Pty Ltd.

·         The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions has developed a 10 year draft investment plan for a new National Weeds RD&E Plan.

Content originally sourced from a National Farmers Federation Media Release dated 11 February 2019

Restoring oxygen levels in Broken Creek

Goulburn CMA are working with partners to trial methods for improving oxygen levels in Broken Creek, and deal with the effects of the ongoing heat and low flows in many of the region’s creeks on native fish.

Goulburn Broken CMA River Health Manager Mark Turner said waterways, including Hughes, Hollands, King Parrot, Seven and Castles creeks and the lower Broken River had sections with very low or no flows.

“Our staff has been liaising with partner agencies to monitor water quality in creeks and rivers across the catchment for the past few months due to the below-average rainfall and extreme heat,’’ Mr Turner said.

“Some parts of the catchment received a small boost after rain in mid-December but given the dry conditions we’re experiencing there has been very little run-off into many of the region’s waterways. This recent spate of heat has seen many of the smaller creeks and waterways, which rely solely on rainfall and run-off for their flows, slow to a trickle.”

Mr Turner said at this stage there had been no reports of native fish deaths in the catchment, but after seeing the situation in NSW saw an opportunity to be proactive in addressing the issue.

“The main risks to native fish are a drop in oxygen levels in the water as it warms up and becoming stranded in small, unconnected pools.

“Native fish and other aquatic wildlife generally try and move to shaded areas and deeper water during warmer weather, which is why the work we do with the community to re-snag and revegetate waterways to create and link cooler, deeper pools is so important.”

The lower Broken Creek area is of particular concern as land use modifications have transformed it into a series of disconnected pools. However, it does still retain a lot of natural values including an important native fish population.

“I just want to know that if something can be done, I want to know it prior and be ready.

“Rain and run-off are the only ways to improve flows in most of these creeks. While we hope there is some decent rainfall on the horizon the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting below average rainfall and hotter conditions for the rest of summer.”

This article is adapted from an news item that originally appeared on the Goulburn Broken CMA website and an ABC Country Hour interview.

Rangelands NRM to provide services to RLP program

Rangelands NRM is one of 47 organisations that has been selected to deliver the $450 million Regional Land Partnerships program over the next five years.

This is the important second phase of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion National Landcare Program.

Rangelands NRM will initially focus on five projects each of one-year duration:

  • Communities protecting the values of West Kimberley Ramsar Sites
  • Finding common ground to protect Ningaloo Coast and Shark Bay World Heritage Areas
  • Reducing Risks to Bilby Habitat across the WA Northern Rangelands
  • Reducing Risks to Malleefowl Habitat across the WA Southern Rangelands
  • Creating a Community of Practice to manage for climate change across the WA rangelands

Community engagement is a key theme of the Regional Land Partnerships Program, with at least 20 per cent of project budgets supporting small, on-ground projects that are delivered by, or directly engage with the local landcare community.

“We will be working with our partners in the region to monitor threatened species including the Bilby and Malleefowl and protect their habitats from fire, ferals and weeds,” Rangelands CEO Debra Tarabini-East said.

“We’ll also be working closely with pastoralists and other land managers to enable them to undertake sustainable agricultural practice.”

This article originally featured on the Rangelands NRM site on 20 December 2018