A decade of leadership: Bob Hawke Landcare Award winners look to the future of sustainable agriculture
7 April, 2022:
A decade on from the inception of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award, landcare-led sustainable agriculture has never been more important in addressing the increasing pressures of environmental degradation and climate change.
With a new award winner set to be announced in August, previous recipients are speaking out about the importance of leadership and innovation in Australian agriculture, and calling on the Australian community to get involved in local landcare initiatives.
2014 winner Colin Seis (NSW)– internationally renowned pioneer of ‘pasture cropping’, said that Australian agriculture had the chance to lead the way in the global future of sustainable farming.
“Farmers were the first to see the impacts of climate change- on our soil, our stock and our crops. Our drive to overcome increasing challenges and take action to not only preserve but improve our land has made us innovators in sustainable agriculture and landcare. We’re showing the world how it’s done.
“We created pasture cropping in 1993, and it’s seen enormous success in making farmland more resilient to drought, wind and water erosion. Since then, there have been many more fantastic innovations in Australian farming, but there’s always more to do- not just here in Australia but on a global scale.
2016 winner Steve Burgess (QLD)– an esteemed conservationist and farmer, said that while strong national leadership is needed to address the environmental crisis, fostering the landcare ethos within all Australian communities is just as impactful.
“The Landcare ethos needs to be ingrained as a core social value across generations into the future. It should become socially unacceptable to bugger up a piece of country, particularly waterways – knowing what we now know about this place.
“If there is even just one special place that you value, look after it, even if it seems small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. With enough people committing to care for their patch and working with others and doing what they can, we will leave our country in a better state for the future.
2018 winner Charlie Arnott (NSW)– a trailblazing biodynamic farmer and grazier, and host of The Regenerative Journey podcast said that Australian farmers were leading the international conversation on farming resilience.
“Despite the variable climate, Australia is an agricultural powerhouse. Our farmers know the importance of landcare in protecting our farms so they remain productive, no matter the challenge.
“The drive to take action on climate change and transition to regenerative agriculture has made farmers across the world hungry for stories, experiences and evidence of the benefits of using regenerative practices. As experts in sustainable and resilient agriculture, Australian farmers are ready to tell those stories and share that knowledge.
2020 winner Andrew Stewart (VIC)– who, along with his family, transformed his Victorian property into a diverse, carbon positive sustainable farm, said attention now needs to be given to inspiring the next generations of sustainable farmers to ensure strong leadership in landcare.
“Landcare farming plays a critical role in addressing the big issues affecting all Australians: climate change, biodiversity loss, and human health. We have a big opportunity to encourage youth into the agricultural industry through the lens of landcare.
“One of our biggest responsibilities is to inspire future leaders to continue to innovate in the industry. We need to support their appetite for landcare led solutions to secure Australia’s sustainable farming future.
Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish praised the ongoing advocacy of the previous winners, saying that the future of landcare leadership in Australia had “never looked brighter”.
“Landcarers are a very diverse group and include farmers, families, innovators, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. Their commitment to tackling environmental challenges through sustainable agriculture is unquestionably one of the greatest Australian success stories.
“Over the past 10 years we have seen the winners of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award do extraordinary work in sustainable agriculture to drive the landcare movement forward. I know this year’s nominees will have built on the success of previous winners to achieve even more.
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