Upper Snowy Champions

Local landholders who have made outstanding contributions to natural resource management in the catchment were recently honoured at a Landcare dinner hosted by the Upper Snowy Landcare Committee.  To see some photos of our dinner visit the gallery HERE…

Mr Adrian Begg, Chair of South East Landcare, which covers the Southern Rivers region, presented four “Champions of the Catchment” awards to people who, through innovation, persistence and a willingness to assist others that share the similar land management problems, have improved the condition of natural resources in the Upper Snowy Catchment.

A Champions award was presented to Phil and Robin Daley for their outstanding work in the control of grassy weeds on their property as well as the work that Phil has done in sharing his techniques at weed field days run by the Berridale Rocky Plain and Snowy River Landcare Group. Not only have the Daleys been able to transform their property from a weed and rabbit haven, they have also been able to develop new techniques to address the emerging African Lovegrass problem on their property.

Stuart and Jan Reid of “Murlingbung” received an award for their work in taking the principles of sustainable grazing management developed elsewhere and translating them to the harsh reality of grazing on the Monaro.

Chris and Linda Millington of “Goldfields”, Dalgety have battled against the odds of fluctuating rainfall and heavy insect attack in their endevours to rehabilitate their land along the banks of the Snowy River. As with many people who live along the Snowy, although the Millingtons both work full time, they have made the planting of trees and the management of weeds in their riparian zone (and also on the rest of their property) a priority. With funding from the Snowy Banks program managed by the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, the Millingtons have been able to fence of sections of the River, install off-stream stock watering points and use irrigation systems to water new plantings of trees and shrubs along the river banks.

The final award of the night went to the Snowy River Alliance group who have been at the forefront of the campaign for the restoration of environmental flows to the Snowy River since the early 1990’s. Through ongoing hard work, this small group of individuals, which includes people from Dalgety through to Marlo, have convinced politicians of all persuasions of the need for water to be returned to the Snowy River to restore the health of the river. Their persistence has been rewarded with the study completed by the expert panel of scientist into the health of the river and the subsequent legislation of environmental flows for the river.

A special award was also presented to former General Manager of Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and was presented with an inspiring speech from SEL Chair Adrian Begg:

Speech by SEL Chair Adrian Begg at the Upper Snowy Landcare Champions of the Catchment dinner at Berridale on 26 April 2013:

From the beginning of next year – as I think all of us are well aware – we are going to be dealing with a new organisation in New South Wales called Local Land Services.

It’s going to be a kind of super department that rolls together all the existing services to agriculture and natural resource management.

It’s still too early to know all the detail of how it’s going to come together, and what it’s going to mean for Landcare.

What we do know is that we are going to lose the Catchment Management Authorities, which since 2004 have been the Landcare movement’s primary interface with Government.

The CMAs are going to be absorbed into the new department along with Livestock Health and Pest Authorities and all the other agricultural advisory services of the Department of Primary Industries.

Now there are certain parts of New South Wales where you may well hear members of Landcare cheering out loud at that bit of news.

There are thirteen CMAs and in some cases, so I’m told,  their relationship with Landcare has not always been the best. In fact I think I’ve heard the term “bloody awful” used to describe it.

Thankfully, that has not been the case for the seven district Landcare associations and more than 120 Landcare groups in the South-East Region.

From the outset, the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority has been a terrific  partner for Landcare.

In fact I would go further and say that the achievements of that partnership have set a benchmark for the other CMAs.

The Landcare relationship has always been a high priority for the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, and knowing that we had a friend in Government has helped to generate a climate of certainty for Landcare across the region.

The CMAs support has come in many ways:

There is the incredible support given in establishing and maintaining the seven community support or Landcare co-ordinator positions; The help Landcare has received in obtaining funding for major projects; The encouragement and support of programs to develop community volunteer skills and leadership.

And a whole lot more besides.

In 2008 the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority did a benchmark survey among Landcare groups in the region.

Eighty-four per cent of the groups surveyed said they had a very positive relationship with  the CMA, which is an impressive statistic.

The reasons people gave for their assessment of the relationship say it all:

The CMA took the views of Landcare groups into account in decision making; Landcare groups had a high level of trust in the CMA; There was effective communication between the CMA and Landcare groups; The CMA provided regional leadership in relation to natural resource management; and The CMA had an ongoing commitment to maintaining relationships with Landcare groups.

Now this is all very interesting, but tonight is a night for Landcare champions – so why the  big wrap for the CMA?

The answer is that any organisation – and this is true of government departments as much as any other – is only as good as the people who run it.

Noel Kesby became general manager of the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority in 2004, the year it was established, and he has been part of the relationship with Landcare ever since.

Under Noel’s leadership the CMA has lived up to the vision and values that have formed the framework of that relationship.

The CMA’s  mission is to support local people to live and work in ways that lead to a healthy and productive environment, and its vision is local people leading healthy landscapes.

Noel’s approach to his relationship with Landcare has embodied the CMA’s values, which are:

Trust and respect

Professional and personal integrity

Reliability, honesty, transparency and accountability Passion, commitment and loyalty Innovation and flexibility Team spirit and inclusiveness.

Noel will be leaving the CMA in the coming days as the changes in the organisation start to take effect, so tonight we would like to take the opportunity to recognise his very significant contribution over the years as one of the Landcare team.

Noel, as far as we are concerned you’re a champion and we’d like you to come forward and accept this very special Landcare Champions award as our way of saying thank you for all you have done for Landcare during your time with the CMA.

The Champions award was presented to Noel by John Carter, SEL Treasurer and a long-serving member of the board.

For more images from the Upper Snowy Champions of the Catchment event visit www.uppersnowylandcare.org.au