Landcare ACT, the ACT’s peak body for land stewardship groups, today released its seven point agenda for strengthening the resilience of the ACT’s urban and rural landscapes.
Canberrans love living in the bush capital. As the city grows, we need to safeguard this unique urban setting,” Landcare ACT chair, Jonathan Miller, said. “We will be seeking commitments to our agenda from the parties in the lead-up to the ACT election.”
“The ACT needs an agriculture policy. Agriculture is being squeezed out of our surrounding peri-urban areas. Yet, local food production will play a vital role in food security as we move to a carbon-constrained world.”
“Canberra’s landcarers make an extraordinary contribution to restoring and maintaining our landscapes the extraordinary contribution, valued at $1.7 million annually,” Mr Miller continued. “Our catchment groups play a critical catalytic role but they can’t be taken for granted; they need small but ongoing financial support.”
Landcare ACT is proposing a new overarching natural resource management strategy, to provide a clear road-map for the future and which addresses gaps in soil management, agriculture, community education and capacity building. Landcare ACT is also calling for a review of the governance framework for ACT natural resource management, to establish an independent regional body to facilitate stronger community involvement.
“The government needs to strongly support Aboriginal involvement in the development of the natural resource management strategy, and working on country,” Mr Miller said. “Additional funding is also needed for cultural site assessments to protect cultural sites.”
Landcare ACT has also called for increased, reliable annual funding for weed management. “Weeds represent a major threat to our wildlife, but also to agriculture. Highly flammable African Lovegrass, for example is a major regional threat, reducing the productivity of farmlands, excluding native plants and animals, and increasing the bushfire risk for all of us,” Mr Miller noted.
Landcare ACT is also seeking support for the Frogwatch program, which has replaced government monitoring, due to its recognised cost-effectiveness and engagement of volunteers of all ages. The program faces closure due to cuts in its funding.
“The seventh point of our agenda is to integrate the principles of local environmental stewardship into the ACT curriculum, to ensure our future leaders recognise the importance of healthy landscapes to our community,“ Mr Miller concluded.