The past year has been a busy and productive time for Landcare Australia, with significant progress made on a strategy to diversify our business. This strategy enables Landcare Australia to secure revenue from a wide range of sources to support Landcare community and Landcare programs.
The year saw a small drop in corporate funding and an increase in government funds, mainly due to the activity under the 20 Million Trees Programme.
The year also saw much greater collaboration between the National Landcare Network and Landcare Australia, which will undoubtedly be of great benefit to the Landcare community.
The implementation of our new corporate partner programme continued in FY2016 and these efforts are starting to bear fruit, with a strong pipeline of potential new business and a number of new and enhanced partnerships achieved during the year. Of note is out new partnership with Transurban, which will see a major rehabilitation project undertaken alongside the M2 in Sydney, as well as a number of projects in Melbourne.
In the government sector, we are grateful for continued support from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Department of the Environment and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The State & Territory Awards were a highlight of the year, demonstrating continued passion and commitment to Landcare.
Our major projects team commenced a range of new projects, including a significant project in Tamworth in conjunction with Wallamore Landcare Group, Local Land Services, NSW DPI and Lion. This project has received significant funding by a major bequest to Landcare Australia from New South Wales businessman, Raymond Borland, and will see the restoration of the Wallamore anabranch of the Peel River.
I look forward to another successful year to come which will see enhanced support for a variety of Landcare groups and initiatives across the country.
First I would like to thank my team for their tireless work and passion for Landcare, especially over the last year which saw many changes for the organisation, and our board for their ongoing support.
We revamped our marketing area with a much greater focus on digital and launched our new website. These changes have given us the ability to expand our reach, connect with new audiences and communicate Landcare stories as well as share knowledge.
Our fundraising area is developing well, with over 1,100 individuals now supporting Landcare Australia. Fundraising campaigns and appeals, including Workplace Giving, contributed more than $200,000 over the past year.
As a result of this and continued support from our corporate partners, we were able to support 189 Landcare projects last year. These were funded through our partnerships with Lion, RACV, and Yates, to name a few, as well as our Workplace Giving partners. Over 400 applications were received for our Workplace Giving grants program, clearly demonstrating the need for project funding within the Landcare community. I am grateful to our many corporate partners for their continued support which allows us to provide funding where it is needed.
Last year saw the commencement of a number of large-scale 20 Million Trees projects, mainly in South Australia, which are already achieving great results. We also continued working as a Green Army Programme service provider, in partnership with ManpowerGroup. We completed 74 projects and it was very pleasing to see 40 percent of participants achieved employment or continued training as a result of involvement in the Programme.
I would like to thank our Board for their ongoing support and guidance. In addition, I’d like to acknowledge the National Landcare Network for their collaboration and focus on building strong partnerships, which can only enhance our ability to support Landcare groups and activities.
Finally, thank you to the Landcare community, without whom none of this would be possible.
President Roosevelt stated a fundamental truth when he warned that nations that destroy their soil destroy themselves. In India, China, sub Sahara Africa and the Middle East for example, soil loss and degradation is compounded by the massive drawdown of irreplaceable aquifer water, pollution in global rivers and waterways, glacial meltdown in the Himalayas and methane fires across the Arctic Circle brought about by permafrost meltdown.
In Australia, whilst we have our soil health and water issues (50 percent of our rainfall is lost to evaporation), we also have the answers, and all of you at Landcare are a key component of the solution.
As your Patron, I am very aware and most appreciative of the wonderful work done by the organisation and its many volunteers. You all realise that caring for our country is fundamental to our long term prosperity, and even survival.
As the National Soil Advocate, I am tasked with raising public awareness of the critical role that soil plays in the good health of our Australian landscape, and in particular, the agricultural landscape. It is the art and science of integrating the management of our soils, water (hydrology) and plants that decide soil health; a principle clearly understood by the land care movement.
And we all should be involved with improving our landscape, be it on urban, rural, or suburban properties. Aspects such as increasing soil organic carbon content, improving microbiological, nutrient and fungal activity, ensuring appropriate hydrology and encouraging permanent coverage of diverse vegetation all help to create a healthy landscape, the pre-condition for a positive economic, environmental and social return.
Landcare groups create a wonderful opportunity to bring together those who are passionate about our landscape and in the process do an important thing in helping reconnect urban Australia with its rural roots. We should value our 120,000 farmers as stewards of more than 60 percent of our land and work with them to make our landscape ‘fit for purpose’. Many of you of course do this.
May I thank all in the Landcare movement for your vital individual and collective contributions to regenerating the health of our national landscape. Together we can reverse land degradation and improve soil health, thereby better equipping ourselves to deal with impending global challenges, including climate change.
In summary we must save the soil to save the planet.