Words by Jasmine Whitten
Can you imagine a world without our Australian icons like the Koala or the Emu?
What if, because we all simply stood back and did nothing, these precious creatures just disappeared…. Nothing more than a picture of the past found on the internet.
This morning on the radio, I listened to a news item about how recently scientists did a survey of budgies this year that revealed there was an 85% reduction in numbers compared to last year. Both bird enthusiasts and scientists have no idea where they went or if they are even still alive?
Are we to blame for this or is this just another outcome of this dreaded drought?
However, my recent trip to Broken Hill for the Landcare & Local Land Services Conference gave me hope for the future. While, it is true that we are seeing a reduction in our native wildlife numbers hope is not lost! It is never too late to fix this. But we must work together for this common goal!
As a young person who is rapidly paving a career in the agricultural industry, I honestly thought that this is where we needed to start for biodiversity conservation. For instance, did you know that 51 % of the Australian landscape is owned and managed by farmers? These are the people who are out there caring for our unique native plants and wildlife, day in day out.
However, looking back on my initial thoughts I realise just how wrong I was. When I took the time to reflect on how we could work together to protect biodiversity conservation after the Landcare & Local Land Services Conference my opinion changed. I reflected on the fact that farmers are unable to run a business in isolation. You see, running a farm business requires a range of relationships with different people. For instance, you need relationship with a banker, an accountant, various government officials, farming contractors, tradesmen, sales reps and perhaps even some agricultural advisors.
Truth is we don’t do farming alone and protecting our biodiversity should be exactly the same.
- We need scientists to monitor population levels.
- We need extension providers like Landcare to share information and increase adoption of various practices, like fencing off riparian areas.
- We need education institutions like schools, universities and other training organisations to inspire the next generation to care for our native fauna and flora.
- We need everyone in the world doing their little bit to make a difference!
Now, while you are busy doing your little bit, I would encourage you to think about the process of creating change with farm businesses because this is where we can create the biggest impact for caring for our biodiversity. To me it’s a simple three step process.
1 – We need Profitable farm businesses
It doesn’t matter what type of business you are running if you don’t have enough money coming in to pay the bills, it’s hard to find the time or resources for anything other than working to turn a red budget spreadsheet black. This is, and always will be a key priority for farmers! Therefore, if we want to see wide scale investment in biodiversity conservation activities such as, riparian fencing, creating wildlife corridors or simply planting trees on farms then we need to address farm profitability first.
2 – Awareness of the problems
People don’t know what they don’t know. This is important to realise, especially when trying to create change and solve a problem like biodiversity conservation. One thing I can tell you is that farmers are incredibly busy people and they are juggling a range of activities from balancing the books to fixing machinery. But, if they aren’t aware of the problem, how can they possibly work towards solving it? Therefore, to solve biodiversity conservation the community must become aware of the problem. We have to be sharing the statistics, news stories and start conversations about biodiversity conservation.
3 – Action
The final step is taking action! It should be the simplest aspect but there are a whole heap of barriers to biodiversity conservation action. These barriers can be classified as either social, economic or technical. For farmers to overcome these barriers extension services, including, government, Landcare and private consultancy businesses are needed. People in these organisations come in and assist farmers to gain the knowledge and confidence so they want to change and provide the support that is needed to implement the solution on farm effectively.
These three steps will all come together in time and create lasting change for biodiversity conservation on farms. But the farming community cannot do it alone. We need everyone doing their little bit from city to sticks we are all part of the solution. So, are you up for the challenge of working together and ensuring that future generations enjoy our native flora and fauna for years to come?
Still need a bit of convincing….Here is a quote that Landcare people regularly share, “So when is the best time to plant a tree? Yesterday. When is the second best time? Well, that’s today!” What we do today can have an impact for tomorrow so let’s join forces and protect native flora and fauna.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT…
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) worked in collaboration with Intrepid Landcare to support five young Landcarers from across NSW to attend the NSW Landcare and Local Land Services Conference in Broken Hill in October 2019. These are the stories and insights of these young people, what they got out of the conference and what they see as possible when it comes to conserving biodiversity on private property.