How does fencing a farm dam influence water quality or reptile diversity? What impact do different kinds of shelterbelts or remnant vegetation have on the diversity of birds on farms?
Eleanor Lang from ANU’s Sustainable Farms Project recently shared her insights about the critical role of farms in conservation and the many benefits of conservation to farms and farmers at a Geelong Intrepid Landcare Zoom check-in.
The Sustainable Farms Project collects data across hundreds of farms throughout North-East Victoria and NSW, building on two decades of ongoing ecologically-focused on-farm research into the benefits of agricultural landscapes to flora and fauna biodiversity, and the value of natural assets for farm productivity and farmer mental health.
Eleanor first became interested in wildlife on farms after seeing Flame Robins at her family’s broadacre property in Lismore, Victoria, and realising how little she knew about what wildlife lived there. This led her on a journey to identify every bird species on her family farm (114 and counting!), and in doing so, she became ultra-passionate about conservation, biodiversity and agriculture.
Several years on, having attended an Intrepid Landcare Leadership Retreat in Geelong, and graduating from the Masters of Environment at Melbourne University, she has landed her dream job as an ecologist with the Sustainable Farms team.
Never before have there been so many farms and farmers getting involved in conservation and ecosystem-sensitive farming practices.
On the downside, there is never enough funding to support or incentivise sustainable management of farm natural assets, or for long-term ecological monitoring of the benefits and impacts of various practices, such as restoring degraded remnant vegetation, or excluding stock from riparian areas.
This is where the role of Landcare and citizen science can and does contribute. There are many projects, mostly at the grassroots, where community networks and landholders are capturing ecological data to inform projects and research. Birdlife Australia’s Birds on Farms project is a great example.
Whether you are a concerned citizen, a passionate landholder, or a nomad scientist that is genuinely curious about the world, similar to Eleanor when she first saw a robin on her family farm, there are many ways you can get involved and contribute to sustainable farming initiatives.
To find out more about ANU’s Sustainable Farms Project visit their website or connect on social media, or listen to a Podcast. If you are interested in turtle conservation on farms you can certainly connect with Eleanor.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring story Eleanor!