Next Gen Eco Champions fostering life long partnerships with farmers

I have the pleasure of working with Art4Agriculture to help train a team of 5 young natural resource management professionals from Southern Rivers region of NSW. They will be trained alongside the Young Farming Champions to develop leadership and communication skills and become local faces of sustainable primary production and natural resource management.

They will also work with Young Farmer Champions to present Archibull Prize activities in 15 schools throughout the region and work with the students to explore the economic, environmental and social challenges of sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation activities through the ‘Archibull Prize‘ competition.

As part of the project the 5 Young Eco Champions are also paired with 5 farmers to plan and help undertake natural resource management activities on the farmers’ properties. The aim of this component of the project is to help them better understand the diversity of land managers and their priorities and to work side by side with land managers to deliver healthy ecosystem outcomes

Young Eco Champion Renae Riviere recently visited the property of the landholder she is working with.  Renae will be sharing her journey with the readers of my blog. I am confident you will enjoy seeing her progress and outcomes just as much as me  …

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Renae checking out some of the revegation work the farmer has undertaken along the river bank

Today I visited the property I will be working on as part of the Young Eco Champions program. The property is about 36ha and it situated in prime dairy country in Jamberoo, NSW. The property is owned by an absentee landholder who lived on the farm for some years, but for various reasons has since moved closer to her workplace.

However she is highly aware of the need for and value of having productive agricultural land in the region conjunction with having a sustainable natural ecosystem.

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The property has great views and backs on to a number of dairy farms in the region

The property has remnants of Dry Rainforest flanking the driveway up to the house, but the understorey is dominated by lantana and wild tobacco, which will need to be systematically removed and replaced with local native rainforest species.

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Lantana and Tobacco Bush hold up large areas of the hillside and careful planning will need to be undertaken to ensure their removal does not encourage erosion in major rainfall events

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The next door neighbour, another lifestyle farmers ( fenced area to the right) also has significant weeds of national significance along the boundary fence

The landholder is balancing the two by leasing the land to a neighbouring dairy farmer who uses it to graze their young stock  as well as undertaking a bush regeneration projects in the rainforest with the help of funding from Southern Rivers CMA and support from Landcare Illawarra.

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Dairy heifers enjoy the lush pasture growing on the property 

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The farmer has already fenced of the waterways and put in a series of water troughs

The project I am working on will be carried out by an experienced bush regenerator and teams of volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia who will assist at major planting events.

Map

We have taken on a big pretty task as you can see from the map with the project area marked in yellow and the area we will be fencing in red

The project area fronts the road, so will be a great example to other landholders in the area of how an environmental rehabilitation project and a working dairy farm can exist side by side. As an added bonus every time the landholder drives up her driveway, she’ll be reminded of what a positive and lasting impact she has had on the biodiversity of her local environment.

This is a very exciting project and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it! As well as coordinating the teams of volunteers, I will be writing pre and post project case studies, I’ll be making a video; interviewing the bush regenerator, the farmer who leases the property as well as the property owner. I’ll also be taking lots of photos along the way so that you can all see what great progress we make!

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life