Saturday, 24 November 2012

Discussing landcare focus in the Top End

Top End pastoralists attended a meeting I held recently to discuss landcare. The purpose was not simply to start a landcare group, but to discuss how the Top End could access more funding and support for land management. Some who couldn’t attend got involved by responding to a few email questions.

People were keen to increase funding and support for management, but uncertain and even divided on how it could best be achieved (myself included). Douglas Daly attendees were interested in Gamba grass management while Adelaide River pastoralists were most keen for help with mimosa control. Respondents generally expressed concern for other weeds especially on roadsides, wallaby impacts, soil erosion, grazing management and fire management.

One of the sticking points was the focus area and whether it should be regional or local. I have had some thoughts on this since looking at whether the region could apply for grants under the latest round of the Biodiversity Fund.

The Biodiversity Fund is basically about managing the condition of native vegetation through the control of weeds, fire and ferals. Management of developed land could be complementary to this.

It made me think about what, in theory, a successful project could look like, and this led me to think more about the best focus area for land management.

The Biodiversity Fund is targeting high value ecosystems, such as the Daly River Middle Reaches and northern catchment coastal floodplains. The impetus to deal with natural resource issues requires a sense of ownership and comradery, and this works at local and/or regional scales depending on factors such as isolation, population size, block size and commonality of issues and threats. Its about community action, so how you define your community might indicate your area of ownership and focus. 

Defining your area of focus and ownership puts the horse in front of the cart, and from there you can look at how you attract support. Be it local or regional, a group with strong intent and focus will attract attention and support. Be it local or regional, a group without real focus or ownership may flounder and not attract support.

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