Looking forward, looking back

Courtesy of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The National Landcare Program (NLP) is the key element in the Australian Government’s commitment to natural resource management.  $1 billion has been invested over the last four years through Australia’s 56 regional natural resource management bodies, and through programs of national significance, such as World Heritage Grants, 20 million Trees, Reef Plan 2050, and the Indigenous Protected Areas program.

The NLP also delivers on many other government priorities, such as advancing the interests of Indigenous Australians, especially in land management on country and supporting farming communities and regional Australia.

In June this year the government published its report on the review of the current and historical NLP. The report has been used to inform the next phase (from July 2018) of Australian Government support for this exemplary, community driven, land management movement.

The review examined whether the NLP has been efficient and effective in delivering agricultural and environmental outcomes across different regions and agricultural sectors. It was important for government policy makers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the approaches, successes and failures in community engagement and natural resource management across the Landcare movement.

The regional delivery model for NLP funding was also scrutinised as part of the review process to investigate whether it was an effective approach to achieving our national natural resources management and agricultural productivity outcomes.

The methods used to review the NLP included an on-line stakeholder survey during 2016 (more than 900 responses received), an independent financial analysis of the government funding packages from 1996 -97 to 2017-18, advice from the National Landcare Advisory Committee, consideration of analysis and advice from natural resource management experts, as well as submissions from government and non-government organisations.

Most respondents felt the NLP had resulted in improved land management; increased adoption of sustainable farm practices; and enhanced social and institutional capacity for integrated natural resource management. Importantly, NRM regional organisations confirmed NLP funded projects aligned well with their Regional NRM Plans and also progressed Commonwealth objectives.

The review noted funding under the regional model of the NLP is most likely based on historical priorities and criteria, and could be better aligned with current and future priorities and conditions. Regional scale delivery may also be improved by opening opportunities for involvement to a wider range of organisations.

Greater efficiencies and improved outcomes may be achieved through regional bodies working together in consortiums, such as the successful Rangelands Alliance, Reef alliance and Tri State Alliance, along with continuing to meet individual regional plans and Commonwealth objectives.

The review was an important opportunity to reflect back on past programs, as well as to look to the future and ensure that NLP maintains the key elements of its success, while also evolving to be more effective in addressing the natural resource management challenges at a regional level, and connecting local outcomes with national priorities in agricultural productivity, developing regional Australia and importantly, protecting out natural resource base for the future.

You are able to access more information on your regional NRM organisation through www.nrm.gov.au/regional/regional-nrm-organisations. The full review, and associated documentation can be found at: www.nrm.gov.au/national-landcare-programme/public-consultation-review.

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