stewardship – the responsibility for taking good care of resources entrusted to one.
I’m a keen proponent of us collectively taking care of this planet, believing that one of the reasons that we are placed on this Earth is to leave it in better condition than when we arrived. Some of you might say that that’s a very tall order, and there are times when an air of despondency and despair can begin to prevail, but that’s not what this is about.
Landholders the world over, in particular farmers, have a huge responsibility to society as a whole, and in turn society owes those farmers and landholders a debt of gratitude. By default, we are charged with caring for this land; working with it to produce food for all, and at the same time, improving it so that future generations can do the same, all the while minimising our impact on the surrounding environment so that the native flora and fauna can continue to flourish. Hmmm …. you’re right, that is a tall order!
Taking that on singularly is not really going to work that well, and thankfully the spirit of community is most certainly alive and well in rural and regional areas.
In Australia, Landcare
is the organisation that has led the way in assisting communities to
form groups of like minded individuals and take on improving areas that
adjoin farmland, and now is meeting with interest in urban communities.
Formed to garner support in rural communities and provide the framework
and knowledge for rehabilitation and revegetation of degraded areas,
the organisation has spread across the country, and has spawned a
myriad of similar groups, notably Coastcare, along with similar community involvement groups like Streamwatch and Frogwatch.
‘Landcare’ originated in the south-eastern mainland state of Victoria,
where soil conservation programs were strong and a major salinity
control initiative had begun in 1983-84 in affected regions. Joan Kirner,
the then State Labor Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands,
enlisted the help from Heather Mitchell, the State President of the
Victorian Farmers Federation,
and despite their differing backgrounds, they readily collaborated. In
1986, the State Government initiated a multi-disciplinary,
community-based Victoria-wide Landcare program. In the ensuing 20
years, Landcare has spread across the country, and today there are more
than 5,000 registered Landcare groups. The network has also spread to
many other nations including South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Great
Britain, Kenya, Fiji, Uganda, Jamaica, United States, and Sri Lanka.
we arrived in the Pappinbarra Valley just under a year ago, we were
keen to involve ourselves in the community, and I must say that it’s a
very vibrant and active community that we’ve moved into. At that time,
the local Landcare group was dormant, having been very active and one
of the first ones to form in the Hastings Valley, but ran out of steam
some 10 years ago. We took on revitalising and resurrecting the group,
and after some discussions, leafleting of letterboxes, and a couple of
meetings, the Pappinbarra Valley Landcare Group was reborn!
main interest for the new group has come from many of the new
landholders in the Valley, and to that end, we will respond to their
request to be a resource for information and education, rather than be
just a project based entity. Our activities will primarily be a series
of talks and lectures, some in the field, and always related to
sustainable farming practices.
This past weekend we held a Going Solar on the Farm Info Talk, (see image above) where local renewable energy expert, Brian England from Self Sufficiency Supplies provided information on a wide range of options for powering, pumping and heating on farm sites.
Our next session, on August 17th is Using Fire as a Management Tool, with the talk being led by Dr Penny Watson, an expert in this field.
After obtaining a Masters Degree at Griffith University, Dr Watson worked as Project Coordinator for South-east Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium
whose aim was to gather and disseminate information on fire management
practices to support bio-diversity conservation. Here Penny developed
guidelines for fire management and helped organise workshops for rural
and urban landholders, before moving to NSW in 2001 to study fire in
Western Sydney’s grassy woodlands, and in 2006 was awarded a PhD for
her thesis on this topic. Since then, Penny worked as the ecologist for
the Hotspots Fire Project which is a New South Wales Environment Trust-funded
initiative which supports private landholders to develop and implement
biodiversity-friendly fire management plans.In May 2008 Penny took up
her current job at the University of Wollongong, looking at how bushfire fuels vary across NSW.
The session will commence at 1.00pm at the Hollisdale Hall, and will include information presented by the local Rural Fire Service on controlled burns and the necessary permits required to undertake these activities.
It certainly looks to be a most interesting day, and we look forward to seeing many members of our community here.
are you involved with your community? Do you contribute in some special
way? Perhaps you’re a volunteer in a group? Let us know in the comments
section below, and thanks for reading.
Landcare info source: Landcare in Australia – founded on local action by Rob Youl, Sue Marriott + Theo Nabben – Published by SILC and Rob Youl Consulting Pty Ltd Revision October 2006
Image credit organic maven