A diverse new generation of land stewards is emerging to take up the challenge under the Landcare banner after almost four decades of the movement's farmland and recreational land and waterway improvement efforts.
Landcare enthusiasts - young, old, and from multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds - were in Sydney this week to learn about and celebrate the Australia-wide achievements of networks of volunteers and landscape regeneration professionals.
Among the national Landcare conference and awards dinner highlights was the announcement of the highest accolade, the $50,000 Bob Hawke Award, won this year by NSW farmer and grazier, Bruce Maynard, from Narromine in Central West NSW
The Bob Hawke Landcare Award recognises how the former Prime Minister initiated government funding support to elevate a grassroots community initiative into a national movement with bi-partisan parliamentary backing.
Landcare founders, the former National Farmers Federation chief executive officer, Rick Farley and Australian Conservation Foundation director, Phillip Toyne, convinced Hawke to throw an unusually large, long term funding commitment behind the initiative in 1986.
Landcare Australia chairman, Doug Humann, told the dinner crowd of more than 600, the community-based land management and repair model had since proven to be an extraordinary recipe for land and waterway rehabilitation success.
Aided by both government and corporate support, it had evolved to encompass challenges ranging from coastal dune care, to bushfire rehabilitation and impoverished landscape regeneration.
Parliament House in Canberra even boasts a Friends of Landcare network initiated three years ago by parliamentarians from the National and Labor parties.
Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, who was the partner of founding father, the late Mr Farley, thanked Landcare for its increasing recognition of the work first nations people have done looking after the landscape in the past and today.
She told awards guests the responsibility for looking after our living continent rested with all Australians and had been fundamental to Aboriginal people for thousands of generations.
It was critical the wider community learnt and shared that accumulated environmental empathy and knowledge.
Soil microbiological health and productivity were also strong themes of the awards, with University of New England's Dr Oliver Knox, winning the General Michael Jeffery Soil Health Award, for his headline-grabbing Soil Your Undies education program.
The initiative uses cotton underpants, buried just below a paddock surface, to show students and farmers how much beneficial bacteria is, or isn't, working for their benefit within their soils.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the spirit of combined effort, consensus and support which Landcare embodied was more important than ever amid the challenges of climate change, natural disasters and the degradation of many areas of our natural environment.
He said the organisation's Bob Hawke Landcare Award was a fitting and enduring tribute to the support initially provided by the former Prime Minister.
"His special talent was his ability to bring people together - governments, trade unions, businesses, and all parts of society."
In announcing Mr Maynard as the Hawke award winner, Mr Watt said no-kill cropping promoter exemplified valuable work being done by farmers "taking environmental sustainability seriously and making innovative improvements".
"For 35 years he has invented, implemented and extended regenerative agricultural systems on his family farm and across Australia," Mr Watt said.
"The no kill cropping system allows farmers to change easily and quickly between grazing and cropping in the same paddock.
"He has shown incredible leadership, whether it be planting native shrubs, trees and muti-purpose crops, or utilising native grasses or managing grazing for livestock methane reduction."
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