This year’s Landcare conference had as theme ‘Landcare – building a better tomorrow’. There were over 500 delegates from all over the country who came together at the Brisbane convention centre to share and learn. The conference showcased that Landcare had well and truly moved into the digital age with free wifi and delegates being encouraged to Tweet and post on Facebook. Over the 2 days you could attend any one of the 4 streams:

  • Sustainable Agriculture – Innovation and Conservation in a Changing Landscape
  • Community in Action – Grassroots with a Purpose
  • Partnerships – Collaboration for Successful Outcomes
  • Environment – Improving and Protecting our Natural Assets

Professor Mark Howden, Director of the climate change institute, Australia National University, gave the opening keynote. It was titled ‘towards a climate change strategy for Landcare. His presentation clearly showed the information published in the IPCC report in October. The key message was that the carbon in the atmosphere has reached critical levels and that it was not a natural phenomenon as some people think and that immediate and decisive action must be taken to turn the situation around. He told the Landcare delegates that they play a vital role in supporting farmers to practice improved land management and in so doing to improve the release and sequestering of carbon.

Other Key Messages

  • Major General, Michael Jeffery, Landcare’s patron highlighted the importance of soil and that soil is the best way to sequester carbon through regenerative soil practices.
  • There is a need to embrace all people in our quest to find sustainable solutions for caring for the land
  • The value of community-based land care groups is almost immeasurable. If one looks at how little money is made available compared to the output and outcomes achieved. The Landcare movement is able to harness the people resources in our communities at little to no financial cost. It is an excellent model of the power of community.
  • All the Landcare organisations are faced with trying to find ways of being sustainable and decreasing their dependence on grant money. Innovative ideas will be required to attain this.
  • There needs to be an increased focus on youth involvement to build the next generation of people who can get involved in caring for the land and Landcare organisations. The conference was very heartwarming in this respect as there were many young people sharing what they do and how they do it.
  • Digital technology will create the next wave of farming and land care improvements and Landcare groups were encouraged to get behind technology.

It was interesting to see that a lot of Landcare groups were grappling with the same things. Looking at Gympie Landcare we need to turn our attention to improving our member demographic by finding a creative way to get younger people involved in the organisation so that the older generation can pass on their hard-earned knowledge and skill. We need to embrace digital technology if we are going to support our members and farmers into the future. Carbon farming is going to become the next big farming product and we as a Group need to get a better understanding of the carbon credits and how to earn them as it can help many of our farmers who have marginal farm incomes to become more lucrative and sustainable

The conference was a very important growth and development opportunity for our committee members and staff who attended. It will enable us to anticipate the future and build better more aligned land care strategies.

To learn more about the conference and get copies of the presentations click here

To learn about the award winners and their stories click here

To see the highlights from the 2016 conference click here