Improving drought resilience through NRM

Farmers across eastern Australia are facing the prospect of a dry summer on the back of a long period of below average rainfall.

Short term assistance packages can help farmers through the worst of these periods however, a recent research report by the University of Canberra has highlighted the importance of natural resource management in improving resilience to drought conditions over the long term.

“This report gives us valuable insights into how NRM programs can bring farming and landscape benefits beyond the typical outcomes of weed control, better grazing practices or threatened species management,” NRM Regions Australia, Executive Officer Kate Andrews said.

“While it’s long been known that NRM can have flow-on benefits, we don’t always have the analytics to demonstrate this.

“Learning more about what NRM actions bring the most benefits in combating the effects of drought will help in building more robust and targeted programs in the future.”

The research found that many NRM investments improved resilience to drought. One of the most important actions identified was in regards to helping farmers to plan for and manage risk. Other beneficial activities identified were supporting graziers to manage groundcover, control of feral animals, improved water use efficiency, and building feed reserves.

The research outcomes underscore the importance of the link between natural resource management and agriculture, acknowledged in the Memorandum of Understanding the NFF has with NRM Regions Australia which was signed during 2017.  

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Fiona Simson, welcomed the report.

“Farming communities and NFF are concerned about the resilience of farmers and their enterprises in times of drought.

“We are pleased to see analysis that adds evidence-based insights into how we can build resilience to drought and which explores tax deductible insurance premiums.”

Climate models predict more frequent warmer and drier periods across Australia, and helping farmers better prepare for this eventuality is critical to sustaining our industry.

Natural resource management bodies based regionally across Australia are responding to this challenge via a range of targeted programs including grants and landholder workshops, and improved soil, water and grazing management.

The University of Canberra research report provides additional evidence to support the work already underway and provides scope for improvements to how such programs are rolled out, communicated, or adapted.

For more information and case studies highlighting the benefits of NRM programs to farmers in improving drought resilience, check out our section on Building Drought Resilience in our Knowledge Bank section.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority

Western Local Land Services

Western Local Land Services works with land managers and the community to improve primary production within healthy landscapes. Western LLS help people make better decisions about the land they manage and assist rural and regional communities to be profitable and sustainable into the future. They connect people with groups, information, support and funding to improve agricultural productivity and better manage natural resources.

The region

The Western LLS region is the largest in NSW, covering about 40 per cent of the state. Despite its size, it is the least densely populated region with approximately 42,873 people. It encompasses one of the most diverse rangeland areas in Australia, comprised of arid and semi-arid land. The southern and eastern parts of the region are used for intensive agricultural practices.

Grazing (sheep, cattle, goats), dryland and irrigated cropping, horticulture and viticulture, mining and nature conservation are key activities within the Western LLS region.

Co-ordinated biosecurity programs are undertaken to control pests such as goats, rabbits, pigs and foxes and monitor for animal diseases that affect herd and flock productivity.

If you are a landholder in Balranald, upper Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, upper Carathool, Central Darling, Cobar, upper Hay or Wentworth local government areas, Western LLS is the place to go for all your local land service needs.

Visit their website.

Wheatbelt NRM Council Inc.

South Coast NRM Inc.

SOUTH Coast NRM coordinates and administers funding provided by the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia specifically allocated for natural resource management (NRM).

SOUTH Coast NRM organisation benefits from strong community, industry and government support for on-ground work organised under the themes of Land, Water, Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage and Coastal and Marine.

With the help of partners, they have developed a framework for managing the future of key natural resources.

All regional activity and funding is directed by Southern Prospects 2011-2016 – the South Coast Regional Strategy for Natural Resource Management.

SOUTH Coast NRM is one of 56 Australian NRM groups committed to achieving positive social and economic outcomes and the sustainable long-term management of the natural environment.

Western Australia has a further six regional NRM groups – Rangelands NRM, Peel Region, Perth Region NRM, Wheatbelt NRM, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and the South West Catchments Council.

Since June 2003, South Coast NRM, the other WA regional groups and the state government have been signatories to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalising a working relationship. The agreement also provides a framework for cooperation, mutual support and accountability for conservation and sustainable land use within the state.

Under the MOU all WA NRM groups agree to develop regional strategies; consult with the broader community; develop investment plans which include prioritisation of activities; maintain community input into the implementation and evaluation of their strategies and provide advice at state and regional level.

The regional NRM group chairs and chief executive officers meet regularly to ensure a consistent approach is being adopted across WA and that community concerns and issues are voiced to the Australian and state governments.

Visit their website.


Terrain is one of 56 Regional Bodies across Australia, working with the community, government and industry to look after our natural resources in the Wet Tropics region of North Queensland.

Terrain NRM:

  • Is a community-based not-for-profit organisation supporting natural resource management (NRM) in the Wet Tropics region.
  • Builds partnerships to secure the health of natural resources including the region’s water, biodiversity, soil, climate, traditional owner and community assets.
  • Provides planning direction, information, advice and practical support to community/groups/organisations/individuals with an interest in NRM.

Established in 2003, Terrain is a not-for-profit public company funded from a range of corporate, government and philanthropic sources. Current key funding programs include the Queensland Government’s NRM Investment, Australian Government’s National Landcare  Program, Reef Water Quality Programme and Reef Trust, which combined are worth some $9 million, which Terrain is administering on behalf of the region.

Terrain’s key role is to support implementation of the  Wet Tropics Plan for People and Country by supporting action, facilitating funding and integrating effort to achieve sustainable communities and ecosystems in the region.

A critical factor in the success of the region’s approach to NRM, is the strength of its partnerships across all sectors and tiers of the community.

Visit their website.

South West NRM Group Ltd

South West NRM Ltd was established to support practical action by landholders, community, Landcare groups, Traditional Owners, local government and Industry groups at a regional scale on one hand; and manage NRM investment from Australian and State governments on the other. The key principle behind the regionalisation of natural resource management is that decisions should be made by people close to the source and the context of the issues so to ensure environmental sustainability occurs in an economically, socially and culturally appropriate manner.

As a community-based company, South West NRM Ltd’s vision is reflective of its community values and priorities for natural resource management in the region.

A strong commitment to community consultation and participation is demonstrated through the South West NRM Ltd Board of Directors, Community NRM Forums, focus groups and the development of the Regional Natural Resource Management Plan (NRM Plan).

South West NRM provides support and funding for projects that foster Landcare and catchment management ethics including projects for protection of riparian areas; weed and pest control; feral animal management; land, vegetation & water condition monitoring as well as the preservation and protection of areas of significant natural and cultural value.

Visit their website.

Southern Gulf Catchments Inc

Southern Gulf NRM is the Natural Resource Management organisation for the Southern Gulf region of north west Queensland. They work with the community to deliver projects that improve and protect our region’s natural resources and to maintain the prosperity of industries that rely on these. They work closely with pastoral, community, conservation, local government, mining, Indigenous, tourism and other industry sectors to identify priorities, projects and partnerships and deliver on-ground solutions. Our current major focus areas are:

  • Weed management
  • Grazing and rangeland management
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Supporting schools and community groups to participate in NRM

Visit their website.