One of Australia’s largest volunteer movements celebrated a milestone last night, Tuesday 16 March, when the launch of Parliamentary Friends of Landcare ensured grassroots collectives dedicated to conservation will have their voices heard clearly on a federal level.
Landcare Australia has attracted farmers, conservationists and people passionate about sustainable land use and restoration since it was launched in 1989.
Today, more than 140,000 people are involved as volunteers across at least 6,000 groups.
Landcare ACT CEO Karissa Preuss told Canberra Weekly last night’s event built on over 30 years of national bipartisan support, and signalled the value of the movement and its volunteers to the broader community.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud, Shadow Minister for Agriculture Julie Collins, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, and Shadow Minister for the Environment Terri Butler all spoke in support of the Landcare movement at yesterday’s launch.
There are over 60 Landcare groups in the ACT, usually stewarding a place local to where they live.
Specialised groups in Canberra include a grasslands restoration group and an Aboriginal landcare group, which looks after areas of cultural significance.
According to Ms Preuss, the biggest challenge local Landcare groups faced was insecure funding.
“For Landcare to continue to thrive, the volunteers require some coordination support,” Ms Preuss said.
“Community landcarers want to get out and look after the land and they need support from experts in administration, facilitation and environmental management to do that.”
Ms Preuss said Catchment Groups had successfully supported smaller community-based groups for decades.
“When funded, those groups make sure the time volunteers spend in stewarding local places is well directed and improves the environment and local communities.”
Annual ACT Government funding is set to run out by July, and it is not yet clear whether funding will be renewed.
Ms Preuss said she was grateful to the national Landcare network and Landcare Australia for months of work on the new initiative, and to Parliamentary Friends of Landcare co-chairs, NSW Senator Perin Davey and Victorian Senator Raff Ciccone, who will lead the new initiative.
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