Fund­ing cut causes con­cern for eco care

Pilbara News - - News - Re­becca Nadge

Con­ser­va­tion­ists have called for height­ened gov­ern­ment sup­port and fund­ing for Land­care groups af­ter the re­lease of the up­dated in­terim State of Land­care Re­port last week.

The re­port, which was funded by the Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment and pro­duced by the WA Land­care Net­work In­cor­po­ra­tion, high­lighted de­creas­ing sup­port from gov­ern­ment, WALN deputy chair­man Keith Bradby said.

The con­se­quences sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal fund­ing with­drawal was echoed in a pub­lic email from the Es­per­ance Re­gional Fo­rum, which stated rea­sons for the group’s clo­sure in­cluded “the con­tin­ued with­drawal of key Gov­ern­ment bod­ies from this area and the loss of highly skilled per­son­nel from the fields of en­vi­ron­ment, nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment and agri­cul­ture and from the dis­trict”.

“The na­tional Land­care arena has changed dra­mat­i­cally, with a re­duc­tion of fund­ing and the wide­spread and in­creased use of short-term small grants that make it dif­fi­cult to re­tain skilled staff or run ef­fec­tive long-term, sus­tain­able projects for the en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity.”

The Land­care re­port came just one day af­ter the Na­tional State of En­vi­ron­ment Re­port was tabled in Par­lia­ment by Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy min­is­ter John Fry­den­burg, which iden­ti­fied cli­mate change as one of the key threats to land use across the coun­try. WA has not re­leased a state of en­vi­ron­ment re­port since 2007.

“(Last week’s) Na­tional State of En­vi­ron­ment re­port un­der­lines the on­go­ing dam­age be­ing done to our soils and en­vi­ron­ment,” Mr Bradby said.

“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.

“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 year, even with­out in­clud­ing weeds and pests, which are also sub­stan­tial prob­lems.”

Along with more sup­port, the re­port also called for bet­ter in­te­gra­tion be­tween State and Gov­ern­ment Land­care groups.

There has been a de­cline in the num­ber of Land­care groups in farm­ing and pas­toral ar­eas. Picture: Tom Zaun­mayr

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