The Eden Projects lures humans with inspiration before attempting education...
Posts tagged ‘environment’
So arriving in London in *hot* weather was a bit alarming, everyone was complaining about the heat. Our only challenge was that we packed for the stereotypical English weather and not the outlier…
In big cities open spaces for the community are premium property. With everyone stacked-up on each other in apartments and terraced houses, the slightest sunshine brings everyone into the parks for their dose of open space and fresh air.
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.
Before we lament cuts to individual programs in the Australian Government’s environment portfolio – let’s put it all into perspective…
According to the Commission of Audit (CoA) (for 2012/13) the Environment Department’s portfolio is approximately 11% of the size of the Department of Defence. To put this in perspective, I scaled the cool constellation infographics the CoA used to show the relative investments in these portfolios the Australian community is making.
The Environment portfolio is the constellation to the left, within a green dotted circle, so you don’t miss it…
“expenditure on programs to restore the landscape shouldn’t be accounted as an ‘expense’, these costs should be capitalised, recognising they are investments in the Australian landscape asset that will harvest returns for generations”
Australia is an ancient continent. After tens-of-thousands of years of indigenous use of the already-old land, we decided to ramp up our impacts…
In pursuit of agricultural development, for the expansion of the national economy, we cleared the land of its native ecosystems and processes and tried to impart a Euro-centric farming system. We used the full suite of policy levers available to effectively clear the land…
- We used “direct action” – paying people to ring-bark and clear trees.
- We used “incentives” – by providing landholders tax-deductions for clearing native vegetation (as late as the early 1980’s these were still available).
- We used “regulatory instruments” – when people took up leases over land they were required to ‘develop’ their blocks (clear more native vegetation).
We did a great job too…
Drawing inspiration from averting an ‘extinction crisis’ in Australia is not easy – especially when the crises never seems averted. New leadership and evolving science are underpinning a wave of optimism spawned from successful species reintroduction programs around the country.
Yes, Australia has had a very poor rate of extinction over the last 200 years, but the current rate, since the 1980’s for example, is not what it once was (e.g. the Australian Government reported three species were declared extinct from 2000-2009). Of course all extinctions are irreprehensible – and proactive investment in, and management of, biodiversity is required to keep the rate down and ideally eliminate the prospect of extinction.
Living with lowered expectations
If you moved to Canberra in the early 1900’s you could expect Bettongs in your backyard. Before broadscale grazing and agricultural development we could pick native Australian daisies instead of European flatweeds and dandelions in regional towns. Bandicoots were once common in Sydney backyards. If you were a kid growing up on the farm in NSW in 1800’s Pygmy Perch probably provided an easy-caught baitfish for bigger native perch! Our baseline of expectation has been reduced by the lower level of quality of landscape that we now broadly experience.
A novel and exciting future…
Landcare is celebrating it’s twenty-fifth birthday this year. But what is Landcare today?
For a background on the development of Landcare, this publication is great, it highlights the organic development of the Landcare movement, especially the individuals and groups involved.
If you want to engage in Landcare, who do you talk to?
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?