Unsurprisingly, the Landcare movement developed nationally in 1989 as a result of farmers and environmentalists uniting to care for their land and water. Farmers realised it made good business sense, and environmentalists realised they needed to work constructively with farmers, as managers of over half of Australia’s land mass.
Landcare Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, and registered charity, which leads the promotion of and provision of financial support to the Landcare movement’s national resource management programme in Australia; aligning the practice of environmental management with land productivity, and devolving governance and management to local communities.
For more than 25 years, Landcare Australia has supported the Landcare movement’s role of protecting, restoring and sustaining the productivity and value of Australia’s natural environment.
The Landcare movement is made up of more than 5,400 local groups across the nation. The groups that fall under the Landcare umbrella are varied in nature, including Coastcare, as well as productive farming groups, ‘Friends of’, Bushcare, Rivercare, Dunecare and indigenous ranger groups.
Each of these groups actively cares for Australia’s invaluable land and water assets; utilising assistance from interested volunteers to safeguard, rebuild, regenerate, and sustainably manage the natural environment.
Landcare Australia works collaboratively with federal, state and local governments, corporate partners and sponsors, and individuals, to deliver hundreds of projects annually through the volunteer efforts of local community groups, indigenous groups, and the more than 5,400 Landcare and Coastcare groups across Australia.
Improving their farmlands for sustainable productivity
As Australia’s land managers, owners of approximately 53 per cent of Australian land, primary producers – farmers – produce 93 per cent of the food we eat, and feed some 40 million people outside Australia every day.
More than 93 per cent of farmers are active practitioners of Landcare, each making significant contributions to the sustainability and productivity of their land and water assets. They actively work to combat soil salinity and erosion through sound land management practices and sustainable agriculture practices.
How did the Landcare movement start?
The name ‘Landcare’ evolved in Victoria through an initiative of Joan Kirner, (then Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands) and Heather Mitchell, (then President of the Victorian Farmers Federation).
With the generous support of community members, farmers and departmental officers, Heather Mitchell and Joan Kirner were able to launch ‘Landcare’ in a small town in central Victoria in November 1986.
Many Australian communities had already begun practising Landcare decades earlier; accounts from some of their most enduring Landcare groups show grass roots environmental issues being tackled as early as the 1950s. In January 1988 Australia’s first official Dunecare groups formed on the New South Wales Mid North Coast at Hat Head, Diamond Beach, Scotts Head and Diggers Beach.
In 1989 the national Landcare movement officially began with Rick Farley of the National Farmers Federation and Phillip Toyne of the Australian Conservation Foundation, successfully lobbying the Hawke Government to commit itself to the emerging movement. Landcare became a national programme in July 1989 when the Australian Government, with bipartisan support, announced its “Decade of Landcare Plan” and committed $320 million to fund the National Landcare Programme.
What has transpired since is remarkable; Landcare groups have formed all across Australia, and in over 20 countries around the world. The cornerstones of Landcare are being community owned and driven, being bi-partisan in nature, and encouraging integrated management of environmental assets, including productive farmland and a sustainable approach to private land management.