When political leaders around the globe are getting on board the clean energy train why is Tony Abbott still on the coal train?.

Just as there is love at first sight between people, there can be love at first sight between a person and a place.

 A landscape is more than a location, it is one party in a relationship – Vaclav Cílek ,

Coming from a farming family that supplies 50,000 Australians with the milk for their breakfast every day we have come to realise that farming is so much more than food and fibre production. It’s nature that sustains us and our cows.  When Nature thrives we thrive..

Cows walking home Clover Hill

We live in a world that is becoming more and more aware of our environmental impact and we realise that what our family love doing could damage the pristine rainforest we were surrounded by.

We see our role as a food and fibre producer and custodians of the land is to ensure the people we employ, the people we feed and Mother Nature and the animals in our care have a voice

We realise for nature to thrive we had to be prepared to evolve just like nature

As farmers whether we own or lease the land we farm on we have a responsibility to plan for the legacy we want to leave behind. Until we have a plan, a legacy is only a good intention.

For the last ten years I have been accessing funding and expertise for multiple land holders in my region to help them leave the legacy they will be proud of

Along the way I have met many people with very different ideas on what their legacy looks like and how much time and effort and personal funding they are prepared to put into it.

As I put the final touches on the latest partnership report I am seriously despairing about what the current federal government think their land stewardship legacy will look like.

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I have the joy of working with people like Erin Lake as young person passionate about our landscape 

Renae Marcus and Megan

The dedicated bush regeneration team Michael Andrews CEG  (28)

Regeneration work as part of the project   Michael Andrews CEG  (40)

Protecting the endangered Illawarra Zieria (Zieria granulata)

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.and the  Illawarra Socketwood (Daphnandra johnsonii),

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and filming our work to share with the world

I am with the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy on this one and our politicians need to start acting in the interests of the people they represent.

This is what Kelly had to say here

Most Australians want to do the right thing for the environment, but we are seriously lacking in political leadership on protecting nature, life and our shared future.

There are ….local climate action groups working with councils and businesses to reduce their impact on the planet. … Landcare groups restoring creeks and replanting trees on degraded land. …. solar panels going up on rooftops all over Australia. (Did you know one in five Australian households now has solar power?)

….  we should celebrate these acts of leadership which are actively creating a better future.

If only our political leaders would follow suit. Unfortunately political inaction is holding us all back. In fact, some political decisions are driving environmental destruction.

Australia’s environment has never needed a helping hand like it does now. Yet, more than ever, our leaders are turning their backs on our natural places.

…. politicians are making decisions that go against the interests of the people. And right now across Australia decisions affecting our future are being made.

The good news is clean energy is here, ready and waiting, and other countries are deploying it at a fast and furious pace. We just need the political will in this country to move towards a clean and safe future.

At a national level we desperately need multi-partisan support for strong climate change action, after all, it will take more than one term of government and therefore more than one political party to solve climate change.

Most political leaders around the globe are getting on board the clean energy train. It makes me wonder why our Prime Minister is still on the coal train.

I think one of the most important ways to tackle Australia’s environmental challenges is to raise the voices of people in this country who love nature and who want a safe future for their family and friends. That pretty much describes all of us.

Like Kelly my aim is to make it so that our political leaders find it impossible to ignore these concerns.

Surely they can see the management decisions they make now will have impacts far into the future. Surely they care. I look forward to them showing me they do

Want to join me and take a stand and Keep Australia Great Sign the petition here 

Keep Australia Great#aimhigher

Tadpoles on the hop

I live in the most special place and have created this wonderful little tropical paradise outside my kitchen window

Flame Tree Farm

Its become a haven over the years for some wildlife I wish would move elsewhere but today I looked out my kitchen window to see the the frogs were back and it is obviously breeding season and this morning I was inadvertently a voyeur

In my rush to get the camera there was far too little attention paid to focusing

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I love this one – it so looks like they are kissing

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This one I will leave up to the imagination

You can read all about frogs in NSW here

Moo2Ewe and friends

Now I live on a dairy farm where as you can imagine there are a lot of cows who certainly pay their way. A number of diverse animals alive and life like also live on the farm. Some of whom are sometimes a little bit too friendly and eat far too much food 

Last night I answered a knock at my back door but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting

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I had not one but two visitors who were quite determined to come in

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and cute and cuddly as they were

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Running round and round the house playing 

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Visiting Dorper sheep admire the garden 

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but I wasn’t too happy when I saw this

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Note the pots of salad greens which were quickly spotted by the sheep

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and gobbled up. On top of that I would say there is about one hour’s work involved in cleaning up the back laundry where they had obviously spent some time before they knocked on my back door

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Then early this morning I had a visit from some of my rainforest friends.

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Does it get much better than this. Early mornings and late afternoons often see my house visited by swamp wallabies

and you will notice my very colourful life like cows friends on the verandah have now

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been joined by a cow I am very happy to have ‘living’ in my garden.

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At least I can be confident she wont be eating me out of house and home

 

BTW Those who read my previous post will be as pleased as the locals to see the rain has blessed us and we now have grass. My thoughts go out to farmers in NW NSW yet to be receive rain and  those in a similar situation in Queensland

Water water everywhere. Just who are we kidding

This year we have been able to send Young Eco Champions as well as Young Farming Champions into schools as part of a Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry supported Archibull Prize

This has been particularly rewarding for me as I know just how much our farm has benefited from working with natural resource management professionals and it has given me great joy to be able to partner our Young Farming Champions and the next generation of consumers and decision and policy makers (school students) with these bright young minds.

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Clover Hill paired with Next Gen to look after the farm’s scarce natural resources

Whereas our Young Farming Champions have their individual food and fibre industries behind them our Young Eco Champions don’t have an umbrella organisation that supports them financially and/or provides them with the type of personal and professional development Art4Agriculture offers and it’s been mind-blowing for me to see how they have flourished under the Young Eco Champions program.

Going into schools the Young Eco Champions have discovered that the knowledge base of students about natural resource management varies widely from school to school from almost nothing to exceptional and seems dependent on the culture within the school with some primary schools in the Archibull Prize 2013 leading the way.

They have found in the main that urban schools have their heads around sustainability in the context of reducing personal carbon footprint through recycling, reduced waste etc. because that’s what is driven through a lot of local council initiatives and some of the students with a rural background understood weed management issues and why it is important to manage weeds however knowledge of what it takes to farm sustainably and wider catchment management issues where almost non-existent.

Last week I joined Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt who returned to one of her schools to conduct a bush regeneration workshop with the students.

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Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt and students attacking the evil asparagus fern 

I was recently reminded just how important it is for us all to have a wider knowledge of what is happening to our scarce natural resources beyond our front fences when I came across this article Where the world’s running out of water, in one map by Brad Plumer in the Washington Post

Brad asks the question

And with the global population soaring past 7 billion, this is one of the biggest questions the world is now facing. Can better conservation practices and new technology enable farmers to keep feeding the planet without depleting its most important water resources?

Its pretty scary to know that approximately 1.7 billion people rely on aquifers that are rapidly being depleted and would take thousands of years to refill, according to the study in the journal Nature.

The report, “Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint,” identifies aquifers in the U.S., Mexico, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and China as crisis zones where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat because the use of water vastly exceeds the rate at which aquifers are being refilled by rain.

The underground reservoir in north-western India, for instance, would need 54 times more rainfall to replenish the water that’s currently being used by farmers and the local population.

In the map below, the blue areas mark where rain can replenish the amount of water being used by humans. Orange or red areas indicate places where people draw out more for irrigation and drinking water than rain can refill.

The grey areas show the extent of the “groundwater footprint” by representing how much water people are drawing from the aquifers compared with how much water each holds.

Water map

When we know Australia

  • is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest run-off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents.
  • and one third of the continent produces almost no run-off at all and Australia’s rainfall and stream-flow are the most variable in the world.

And then you see the big picture problem the world is facing due to an ever increasing scarcity of our precious natural resources its very rewarding to be able to work with and share our Young Farming Champions and our Young Eco Champions and their knowledge diversity and expertise with our school students

Its also very rewarding to be able to provide the schools they visit with the amazing resources our food and  fibre industries are creating to show how farmers are doing their bit and striving to do it better and inspiring the next generation to look beyond their front door and get actively involved as well

Examples of some great industry resources can be found on our web page here

In particular

Target 100 http://www.target100.com.au/Tips-resources

Cotton Australia Education Kit http://cottonaustralia.com.au/uploads/resources/Cotton_Australia_Education_Kit_-_Secondary.pdf

A Wool Growers Guide to Managing Streams and Creeks

http://www.wool.com/Content/en-GB/lww_Rivers_Managing-rivers-creeks-streams.pdf

Does it get any better than this

When you live in paradise and your desk looks out over the ocean everyday reminds me that I spend too much time at my desk and not enough time on the front verandah chilling out and revelling in the brilliance of it all.

a Sunrise at Clover Hill May 21 2013 

Sunrise

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The early morning sun on this divine pink shrub ( whose name escapes me at the moment) which announces the start of spring in my garden

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Sunrise morphs into day

See for miles

Daytime sea for miles views from my verandah

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The cows enjoy the view just as much as I do

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The flowers and the cows coming home for milking are rejoicing that spring is coming

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Check out that hill in the background they had to navigate to get this point. You can see why they stopped to have a rest 

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Then its sunset

Far too much crawling on Easter Sunday

As you know I lay claim to living in paradise. Yet there is so much of paradise I am yet to visit. So this weekend I decided it was time to start to tick of that bucket list and enlisted the assistance of my neighbour Jenny who is building up her stamina to do a week’s trekking in Morocco.  

Over 50% of our farm is rainforest and it is very steep. Much of the the region’s ecological communities are endangered and we follow the RRR principles of bush regeneration and work closely with Landcare Illawarra who collect seed from farms all around our region to help increase the genetic diversity of our magnificent rainforest.

So off Jenny and I went where not too many people have ventured over the last 200 years

Jenny Hammond

and how gorgeous was it

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Clover Hill Dairies Rainforest

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and an hour later it was time to come back to 21st century

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thanks to our forefathers and lantana that proved to be quite tricky.

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There was a lot of this

Clover Hill Dairies view to Bass Point

We were pretty happy when we found the paddock

Erin and Megan Wildlife Corridor

and just to show you what RRR principles can achieve in 12 months

Picasso Wildlife Corridor March 2013  (2)

It was pretty rewarding to see these trees grown from locally collected seed flourishing 12 months later

Bringing Arthur Boyd’s vision to life

I just love working with bright young minds who grab life with both hands and run with it. Rachel Walker is one of those young people

I have reblogged this from Art4AgriculutureChat as I am confident Rachel’s journey will inspire you just as much as it does me

Background

Art4Agriculture’s Young Eco Champions have each identified a farmer they want to work side by side with to get best environmental outcomes for Australia’s natural resources 226A5485.JPG.Still001_HIres

Art4Agriculutre Young Eco Champions (right) with some of our Young Farming Champions and members of the Art4Agriculture network

We were very excited to have the opportunity to pair Rachel Walker with Bundanon Trust.

Rachel’s shares this wonderful opportunity with you today through her guest blog post …

Bringing Arthur Boyd’s vision to life – by Rachel Walker

As a Young person with a love for Australia’s wonderful landscapes and a deep respect of how scarce our natural resources are and the opportunity that young people have to pay an active role in protecting and enhancing them

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Rachel left participating in a Face to Camera to camera workshop at a recent Young Farming Champions/Young Eco Champions workshop 

I also believe that Australia can play an integral role on a global scale by setting good examples in the management of our scarce resources.

I have learnt that the majority of the Australian landscape and its resources, are managed by our farmers, and much of that includes privately owned areas of native bushland. Hence our farmers also have a very important environmental role to play

As a Young Eco Champion, I have been able to spend some time with the Bundanon Trust in the Shoalhaven. The trust has the unique challenge of rehabilitating and maintaining a large area of native bushland as part of Arthur Boyd’s gift to the Australian people.

The 1,100 ha of river front land was generously left to the people of Australia in 1993, by renowned Australian artist, Arthur Boyd, and featured in much of his artwork. Since the gift the properties have been under the care of the Bundanon Trust, which has preserved the natural and cultural heritage, and developed a fantastic artistic educational experience that is adaptable and applicable to all levels of knowledge. It hosts school children year-round, as well as artists in residence

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The Riversdale Property regularly hosts workshops for young people

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As well as guests from all over the world who see views to die for

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and enjoy fine Shoalhaven Produce prepared by local chefs

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Including local wines

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And beef grazed on the property

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On Friday I was fortunate enough to be taken on a personal tour of the four properties that together form the Bundanon Trust. A stipulation of the bequest was that Bundanon was to always remain a working property in some capacity, and to be accessible to the people of Australia. Today the properties have reduced their beef cattle production in favour of restoring native forest, a tribute to the inspiration in many of Arthur Boyd’s artworks.

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Arthur Boyd, Peter’s fish and crucifixion, 1993 Copyright Bundanon Trust Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust 1993

 

During my visit to Bundanon, Riversdale and Eearie Park it became apparent to me what a fantastic job the Bundanon Trust has done in caring for and managing this magnificent resource combining farm, education and culture, and also what an enormous responsibility they have for the environmental management of the properties for the people of Australia. This is particularly so given the length of Shoalhaven riparian zone (boundary between the land and river) that the properties border.

My ever-enthusiastic guide and Bundanon’s education manager, Mary Preece, has been utilising her photographic skills to catalogue the diverse plants species present across the properties, in order to contribute to the understanding of the biodiversity across the 11 vegetation communities in the landscape.

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Mary Preece Bundanon’s Education Manager works with local school students at Riversdale

However the management of 1,100 ha of diverse, native landscape has its challenges, and the Bundanon Trust is using theirs as an opportunity to learn and educate others by setting a great example of natural resource management.

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Mary Preece is photographing and cataloguing the diverse plant species on Bundanon in order to contribute to the understanding of the biodiversity across the 11 vegetation communities in the landscape.

One of the most apparent ongoing battles that the Bundanon landscape faces is the infestation of Lantana, particularly along the 15km riparian zone.

Haunted-Point-100_4507Pulpit Rock viewed from Bundanon Property

.As luck would have it, Bundanon’s caretaker Gary, who is also the longest serving resident of the properties, was happy to take me up to a place called Haunted Point, where the battle against invasive Lantana has been ongoing for a few years, and threatens the properties’ biodiversity and ecosystem health.

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This aggressive weed has been removed from the properties once before, and so there is a strong push to remove it again – this time for good! Landcare Australia, Greening Australia and the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority are partnering with the Bundanon Trust to orchestrate the enormous task of removing Lantana from all the properties. Even from my brief tour around Haunted Point, the difference between cleared and uncleared areas was incredible! The cleared areas looked unburdened in contrast to the dense weed that seemed to be choking the understorey of the uncleared zones.

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This task is expected to take 3 years and to be completed by 2015. The removal of Lantana however is not a once off job, and will require constant management once the initial removal is complete, to prevent reinvasion. With so many knowledgeable people on hand, and the enthusiasm of the people that I met on my trip to Bundanon, I’m sure it is a labour of love that will lead to the eradication of this weed and the rehabilitation of the region. I am looking forward to seeing the progress as it continues.

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As we drove down the rocky road away from Haunted Point, we were able to identify a variety of vegetation that is inherent to the Shoalhaven region – red cedars for which the area was first colonised, figs, gums, banksia’s and bush lemons were all found along the way, not mention some petrified wood from a rock that had recently been split in half by a falling tree!

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Another environmental issue that Bundanon faces is the threat of bank erosion, which is unfortunately exacerbated by the removal vegetation (yes, even lantana) from the riparian zone. The property has taken many steps forward in reducing the impact of their practices on the riparian zone, by fencing off livestock and reinforcing vulnerable areas with local rocks to slow erosion rates. The awareness of such issues and the dedication of the Trust towards developing management strategies not only benefits the local region, but by sharing these experiences with visitors and students as part of the educational experience, Bundanon sets a great example of achievable goals, and such knowledge is passed on to the public where is has no boundaries!

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Bundanon Homestead

To add a great end to a fantastic day, I was shown around the sandstone homestead of the Boyd family, completed in 1866. Walking through the homestead was quite a personal and unique experience, with no ropes or barricades to keep you from getting a close up look at the displayed art collection, which includes artworks from Arthur’s childhood and throughout his life, and from all members of the family.

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Arthur Boyd’s studio at Bundanon

My favourite things were that children were allowed to play the family’s grand piano, and that the studio light switches were still covered in paint!

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Bundanon Trust is in a unique position where they have the opportunity to involve the public and educate students on the impacts that they are having through their natural resource management choices. It was a great day in the Shoalhaven, and a a great example of how the team are integrating the exploration of the artistic heritage of Arthur Boyd and his family with response to landscape and immersion in the natural environment.

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Riversdale – Spectacular scenery teamed with an award winning building designed by Glenn Murcutt in association with Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark