When discussing my career choice recently I was reflecting with friends how a whole generation of young Australians wanted to be marine biologists. I think it had something to do with Alby Mangles, Harry Butler and the Leyland Bros snorkeling together on the Great Barrier Reef, or Totally Wild. I got as far as choosing between terrestrial ecology and marine ecology for my honours thesis, and I chose terrestrial ecology because I liked scuba diving too much to make it my job…[more on that later]
Posts from the ‘innovation’ Category
So, an Australian Environment and Communications Senate Standing Committee is examining the “history, effectiveness, performance and future of the National Landcare Program”…
There is a fair bit of material to draw upon about the history, effectiveness and performance of the Landcare program. There have been reviews previously, including by the Australian National Audit Office (it wasn’t pretty), other Senate Committees, the Departments themselves and the occasional think-piece from academia and stakeholders. Of course there will be the necessary attempts to understand the tangled nature of the Landcare movement, where the money has gone, and what has been achieved. This reflection is important, very important, but only really important as an enabler to help shape a positive future for the Australian landscape – its biodiversity and its people.
So what of the future? This is the bit where vision and leadership is required – and who better to help forge that vision than those elected to represent the States and Territories of our federated nation.
We need a better business case for landscape repair…
The Australian landscape we were handed has much room for improvement; from aesthetic, biodiversity and production perspectives. Much of the work to be done needs a partnership approach between landholders – mostly primary producer businesses – and investors – mostly government agencies investing for public good.
In packaging landscape improvement opportunities we need to consider the investor audience, which given the scale of investment required, and shared equity in returns, there are really only two options to do this efficiently – government and large private landholders or institutional investors. To connect with these audiences effectively we need to use their language and decision making frameworks.
If we view the landscape as ‘green infrastructure’ requiring investment and maintenance like any asset, and package investment opportunities in a ‘business case’ framework, we may be better-placed to connect with decision makers. A further ‘small-p’ political consideration is needed when packaging the investment opportunity for governments and institutional investors – it needs to attractive to them and their constituents – voters and shareholders respectively.
How do we make that happen?
“National Parks will always be fundamental to landscape conservation, but very few are created in Australia these days. Innovative Trust arrangements, bespoke for the local or regional needs, are becoming more common”.
Conservation costs money. From routine land management practices that provide safe places for community to restoration and reintroduction of missing species and to research and monitoring – it all requires financial support. The original model for conservation was, aligned with the definition of the term, to create a National Park and have it managed by a government agency.
The rate of formal State-managed National Park creation has slowed appreciably in the last decade, as other conservation instruments or approaches have been used to secure similar outcomes. The variety of common models for maintaining and improving high quality environmental assets, now includes:
What lessons can we learn from three key innovative programs in Australian landscape repair in the last decade?
The Whole of Paddock Rehabilitation (WOPR) approach, the Grassy Groundcover program, and the Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary bring new hope for the scale and quality of landscape restoration in Australia.
On the one hand, WOPR has halved the cost of broadscale landscape repair – rebuilding the landscape matrix can now happen twice as fast as a decade ago. At the micro-end of the scale we now have the capacity to dramatically enhance the quality of the restoration we undertake. Now Mulligans is building a vision for the community for what our woodlands could be like.
A vision, a step-change in the scale of what we can do, and a demonstration of the possible.
Taken together these are a potent mix of inspiration and application.
What are the common threads to the development of these projects? How has the innovation come about?