Landcare in Australia
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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 thirty 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, the National Landcare Network as a national community network, and also by the relevant National and State agencies or organizations.
Peak bodies for Landcare exist in each state and territory, and are run by volunteer committees with support from a small number of paid staff. Their purpose is to represent Landcare groups, landholders and others involved with managing and caring for our environment at the state level. Most of these groups work in association with the State Agencies or regional bodies.
These bodies include:
Landcare ACT (Australian Capital Territory) operates with support from the Australian Government
Victorian Landcare Council supported by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and regional Catchment Management Authority.
Landcare NSW operates with support from NSW Local Land Services.
Landcare NT (Northern Territory)
WA Landcare Network (Western Australia)
Australian Landcare International (ALI) is a not-for-profit organisation started in 2008, which promotes and assists other countries to use the Landcare model.