Funding cut causes concern for eco care
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.