Landcare practitioners meet to drive sustainable action

More than 170 delegates met to share their work and drive sustainable action into the future at the State NRM Conference in Mandurah this week.

The Conference was held at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre from 21–23 September and attracted a major line up of landcare practitioners.

The conference theme ‘Finding the Balance: Healthy Environment, Productive Economy’ promoted critical thought and challenge society’s growing struggle with the restoration and protection of our environment — with a swelling population underpinned by economic desires.

The Hon. Ken Baston MLC Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries opened the conference followed by thought-provoking keynotes from Winthrop Professor Carmen Lawrence and Dr Denis Saunders AM 

Representatives from Rangelands NRM presented on three occasions and also prepared a poster. 

Operations Manager John Silver spoke on ‘Fire leadership, management and collaboration in the WA rangelands’. He provided an overview of the fire-related projects Rangelands NRM has been involved in as well as the recent Fire Forum and recently-formed Fire Leadership Group. 

“Key to management of fire in the WA rangelands is the management of more ‘good’ fire, of which mosaic burns are a critical component at the landscape scale”, he said. 

Program Manager (Desert & Pilbara) Chris Curnow spoke about the ‘Development of an Indigenous Ranger Incubator Framework’ that Rangelands NRM has facilitated through a partnership with Central Desert Native Title Services, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, Pila Nguru and Greening Australia. This step-wise guide will assist aspiring ranger groups through the phases of setting up a ranger program. 

CEO Dr Gaye Mackenzie and Program Manager (Pilbara Corridors) Ian Cotton discussed ‘Landscape-Scale Projects’ with the Pilbara Corridors Project as an example of a coordinated approach to address biodiversity threats on a landscape-scale in the Pilbara. This is a joint project between Rangelands NRM, Greening Australia and the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife. 

John Silver also presented a poster on ‘Sustainable Pastoralism: Making more out of less’ which highlighted opportunities for pastoralists to work with Rangelands NRM on sustainable land management projects. Pastoralists can get help with ESRM planning, on-ground works that are identified as priority actions in ESRM plans, and trials and demonstrations of innovative practices, including rangelands self-herding techniques.

“Rangelands NRM is committed to working with producers to improve practices which increase productivity, generate economic returns and sustain our natural resource base,” Mr Silver said.

Representatives from Rangelands NRM partners also presented: Louise Beames and Ayesha Moss from Environs Kimberley, John Szymanski from Aquila Project (Rubbervine eradication in the West Kimberley) Piers Higgs from Gaia Resources, and Dr David Morgan from Murdoch University (Pilbara Freshwater Fish).

Organisers also assembled key speakers and thought leaders from various NRM disciplines, with the panels for the two panel sessions on day three, NRM Futures and Indigenous People, NRM and Landcare, drawn from academia, research, agriculture, science and resources.

The Indigenous People, NRM and Landcare panel session showcased examples of how Aboriginal people in Western Australia are already participating in NRM and landcare activities, and how these initiatives are contributing to community partnerships, regional and national priorities as well as potential social, environmental and economic outcomes.

The NRM Futures panel session focused on big data and monitoring, strong relationships and networks within NRM, and the challenges of securing investment in NRM.

Winners of the 2015 WA Landcare Awards were announced during the conference dinner at the Mandurah Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

To read more about the conference, search Twitter for #SNRMConfWA2015 or visit www.nrmconferencewa.com.au

Images:
1) Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Desert & Pilbara) Chris Curnow presenting on  ‘Development of an Indigenous Ranger Incubator Framework’ at the 2015 State NRM Conference. 
2) 2015 State NRM Conference Awards Dinner. Photos by Teresa Belcher.