Landcare began in Victoria, Australia in 1986 with a group of farmers near St Arnaud in central Victoria forming the first Landcare group. Since then, the Landcare concept has developed into a movement, across Australia and now around the world. There are approximately 4000 Landcare groups in Australia, and the model is being used in about fifteen other countries.
Landcare brings together groups of people who share a common problem and usually live in the same catchment. A catchment is an area that collects and directs water to a common point. By working together in a catchment, land degradation problems can be tackled successfully.
Many of the first groups were set up to eradicate rabbits and to address other specific farm land degradation issues. The Landcare concept has now extended well beyond this, to include rural farming, lifestyle and community development. Participants may include full-time farmers, those who farm as a hobby, urban groups, local schools and businesses.
The range of activities now included within Landcare programs has expanded to include research that measures effectiveness of previous activities, fencing out stock so that vegetation can regrow, creating windbreaks for livestock protection, spraying harmful chemicals, causing soil erosion, channeling and speeding waterways, and combating soil salinity. Many of the tasks are carried out to correct mistakes in farming practices conducted decades ago and sometimes a project simply involve the sharing of ideas related to caring for the land. Other activities include weed removal, using biological controls and farm beautification.
In the twenty years since the first group formed, Landcare has become an ethic, related to the Stewardship principles where land managers work to protect or improve the land for the future. Landcare groups in Australia are supported by Landcare Australia as a national body, and also by the relevant State.
Landcare groups in Victoria are supported by the DEPI and their regional Catchment Management Authority. In Queensland a statewide organisation, Landcare Queensland has been formed to support more than 400 landcare groups operating in the State.
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