The ‘State of landcare WA’ report released recently sends a warning that while the landcare movement is needed more than ever, government support and funding is diminishing.
“The success of Australian landcare grass roots approach, has been emulated by groups across Africa, NZ, Iceland, Canada and elsewhere in the world with great successi” said Keith Bradby, Deputy Chair of the WA Landcare Network, the peak landcare body for Western Australia. “This is because landcare provides a self-help mechanism that works for communities, and provides much needed care for public and private land, farms, water, bush and coasts.”
“It costs more not to do landcare. As far back as 2000 it was clear that land and water degradation across Australia costs us up to $3.5 billion per yearii, even without including weeds and pests which are also substantial problems. Yesterday’s National State of Environment report underlines the ongoing damage being done to our soils and environment. We need to take greater care – landcare” said Mr Bradby.
“This initial State of landcare report documents a substantial decline in the number of local landcare groups operating in our farming and pastoral areas, a steady decline in the funds available for local initiatives and a weakening of statutory support to maintain the benefits of landcare work.”
“Of great concern”, said Mr. Bradby “is the lack of good data showing us just what is happening to the sustainability of our landscapes and our community efforts. Landcare has endured through numerous government policy changes, yet it increasingly appears that government is flying blind.”
The WA Landcare Network has set out what it sees as the resources necessary to sustain this community effort in its 2017 Policy Paper (see here).
“Despite the decrease in government support for landcare, it has survived in many forms and grown in some areas. Landcare marked a fundamental shift from WA’s land development eras, when we led the country in the extent of land clearing, to support the achievement of many important outcomes.
There have been many successes, no till farming is world class, the growth in Aboriginal Caring for Country programs across wide areas of WA is impressive, urban landcare and coastcare is flourishing. There is motivation in the community to do more,” said Mr Bradby. “What then could be achieved if more consistent and locally based support was provided across WA?”
The 2017 State of landcare report has been issued as a discussion paper to document the information currently available and to identify the additional information needed for good policy decisions.