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Northern Agricultural Catchments Council

Annual Report 2015-2016

Organisation

Programs

Financials

Jill Wilson

Chair Report

"While our current financial situation is strong, we continue to be challenged by uncertainties around the security and scope of future funding...we are continually looking at ways to reinforce our future prospects and this year the Board has done considerable work examining strategic issues"
Richard McLellan

CEO's Message

"I think 2015-16 has been an extraordinary year...
The team at NACC has done an awesome job this past year – on many occasions way “above and beyond the call of duty” – to deliver outcomes that were well beyond many of our most optimistic expectations."

Organisation Overview

"We pay a lot of attention, and take particular pride, in working with many local community, production and environmental groups (and individuals). We all passionately believe in this region, and want it to thrive economically, socially and environmentally."

JILL WILSON, CHAIR

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NACC members & 1927 NACC Notes readers
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Environmental monitoring pictures uploaded to the Photomon database
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Hectares covered through on-ground projects including area protected through fencing, weed control, revegetation and stabilisation works.
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Community events, workshops and engagement activities.

A growing NACC profile

NACC Brand & Community

Program Impact

"The response that we have seen from on-ground projects, events and activities...has been immense – from the Farming Futures Forum that we organised in Coorow, a diverse range of innovative farming trials, seemingly “hundreds” of Coastal and Marine community activities, exciting new Aboriginal Program initiatives introduced by our Aboriginal Participation Team, and a range of Biodiversity initiatives – including the inaugural Western Australian Threatened Species Forum that we hosted last October."

RICHARD MCLELLAN, CEO

BIODIVERSITY PROGRAM

NACC’s Biodiversity team have worked together to develop the organisation’s next three-year plan using the previous regional NRM strategy and NARvis as a strong foundation. This will guide future decisions, on-ground conservation efforts and highlights the need to engage the regional community, as well as improve knowledge and understanding of natural resource management
Jessica Stingemore, Biodiversity Program Coordinator

Photo: NACC’s Biodiversity Program works across our region to protect and restore our remnant vegetation.

With less than 30% of the region’s bushland protected in conservation reserves, the remaining remnant vegetation is often located on private land.

As such much of NACC’s Biodiversity Program is aimed at improving connectivity and securing priority habitat, while supporting landholders, local community and local government to manage their remnant bushland and address the threats impacting upon them.

During the past year, NACC’s Biodiversity team has worked hard to engage more local land managers to protect the region’s biodiversity, improve knowledge and understanding through community capacity-building; and engage partner organisations to further strengthen this knowledge and capacity of the local community.

Through the introduction of NACC’s Biodiversity Community Grants in November 2015, eight community projects were successfully funded, enabling more land management and adaptation activities to take place in the region. These grants also enhanced community skills and knowledge in rehabilitation, restoration and conservation of the region’s flora and fauna and will launch a second round in the next year.

Collaboration between the Biodiversity team and other environmental groups was a major focus for the program this year. Two partner projects in particular embodied this; the Aquatic Pest Research in Western Australia (Tilapia) project and the Abrolhos island Restoration project, both run with our partners Central Regional TAFE, as well as Department of Parks and Wildlife, Department of Fisheries and Department of Water.

Looking ahead, the key initiatives over the coming year are to enhance existing partnerships to protect regionally-threatened flora and fauna; reduce impacts of threatening processes on iconic assets; and continue to build community knowledge sharing. Opportunities are also being developed for a collaborative project on effective feral animal education and control in the NACC NRM region.

Leedham Papertalk from Bundibunna Aboriginal Corporation showcasing a waterhole on the farm, where he recently protected more than 3,000 ha of remnant bush.

Protecting Priority and Threatened Flora and Fauna

Marine debris collected by local fisherman, BCMI staff and tourists in Wallabi Group.

Abrolhos Islands Restoration

NACC's Biodiversity Program Coordinator holding a Yabby (Cherax destructor).

Aquatic Pest Research in Western Australia

Roadside vegetation near Perenjori provides food and shelter for many animals and enables them to move around safely.

Biodiversity Links (Biolinks)

Phil Logue from Perenjori Farming Forward showing local community members the different types of firefighting equipment.

Biodiversity Community Grants

NACC proudly supports a wide variety of community events, including regular bird watching events like the Great Cocky Count and Shorebirds 2020.

Biodiversity Workshops & Field Events

Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner (Gregory Andrews) with NACC CEO Richard McLellan, Wheatbelt NRM EO Natarsha Woods and threatened animal mascots.

Threatened Species Forum WA

The following staff members contributed to the Biodiversity Program in 2015-16:

  • Jessica Stingemore
  • Heather Legge
  • Jude Sutherland
  • Libby Sturrock
  • Marieke Jansen
  • Sarah Gilleland
  • Rodger Walker

The delivery of this program is supported by a full team of NACC staff working across the Northern Agricultural Region. Click here to see a full list of NACC staff near you.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM

During the past year, the Sustainable Agriculture team has focused on creating, building and strengthening partnerships in our sector.  Working with farmers, farming and landcare groups and organisations in the community to develop and deliver projects and activities that will ensure the future sustainability of our region’s agriculture.
Sally Fenner, Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator

Photo: Partners of the Northern Agricultural Region Sustainable Agriculture Network (NARSAN) established in 2015-2016.

Sustainable agriculture will be key for the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) into the future, with agriculture accounting for the majority of land use in the region.

With the ongoing challenges of soil compaction, soil acidity, erosion, pest plants and animals, as well as climatic variability, NACC is working with land managers and community groups to promote and support practices that will contribute to maintaining the productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability of the NAR.

Regional projects undertaken by the program in Financial Year 2015-16 have focussed on research, on-ground management actions through the delivery of farm demonstrations, and engaging the community through events, training, and media.

NACC’s field staff have been working with land managers to identify issues, and provide information and tools to support on-ground action, while NACC has also been working with regional stakeholders and landcare groups, to undertake projects through grants and Regional Landcare Facilitator support for knowledge and capacity building activities.  Regional stakeholders engaged in the planning and delivery of NACC’s Sustainable Agriculture program activities have included the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA), grower groups, industry organisations, and private land managers.

The establishment of NARSAN (Northern Agricultural Region Sustainable Agriculture Network) was a great achievement during the year and, with time, this exciting initiative will lead to new opportunities and assist in promoting the fantastic work being done by individual farmers and all of our partners in the region.

Another exciting milestone this year was the completion of NACC’s Demonstrating Principles of Ameliorating Sub Surface pH to Improve Soil Health Project. Through working with partners – such as DAFWA and grower groups ­– on this and similar projects, NACC has been able to significantly contribute to raising awareness and extending knowledge on important issues affecting our region.

Moore Catchment Council Farm Demonstration Field Day June 2016

Sustainable Land Use & Practice Change in a Variable Climate

Regional Landcare Facilitator Stanley Yokwe presents a Green school award to winners, Dongara District High School.

Regional Landcare Faciliator

This is the Soil pit of soil acidity treatment demonstrated as part of Innovation project.

Ameliorating Sub Soil Acidity

This is the Ogilvie site used as a carbon site under the Pilot to Test Carbon Driven Solutions to Salinity project. This site is located in a degraded saline area, but has been successful revegetated through this partner project.

Carbon Solutions to Salinity (Pilot)

This is the EVA site 1 used for help raised awareness of carbon farming and its potential for farmers and community members in the Northern Agricultural Region.

Carbon Farming Awareness

The following staff members contributed to the Sustainable Agriculture Program in 2015-16:

  • Sally Fenner
  • Stanley Yokwe (RLF)
  • Callum Love
  • Sarah Jeffery
  • Heather Legge
  • Rodger Walker
  • Sarah Gilleland
  • Jude Sutherland
  • Flora Danielzik

The delivery of this program is supported by a full team of NACC staff working across the Northern Agricultural Region. Click here to see a full list of NACC staff near you.

COASTAL & MARINE PROGRAM

It has been a great year for the Coastal and Marine Program with increased levels of volunteer engagement and community capacity building resulting from the efforts of a passionate team. Everything is in place for a quick start next year … so bring it on.
Mic Payne, Coastal & Marine Program Coordinator

Photo: Partnership in action - NACC's Coastal & Marine Coastal Project Officer Hamish Longbottom delivering the pre-planting presentation to students of the Lancelin Primary school while teachers and members of the Friends of Lancelin Coast look on – 450 plants were carefully planted in record time.

This year NACC’s Coastal and Marine Program has continued to combine community engagement and stakeholder capacity building with successful on-ground activities to improve the management of coastal and marine environments in the NAR.

Fifty-three activities that directly involved coastal management stakeholders, primarily volunteer community groups, were undertaken in the 2015-16 Financial Year. These include workshops, field trips, presentations and training sessions. Of particular note was the donation of a dedicated community engagement trailer by the WA Department of Fisheries, and Coastwest funding for development of the Coastal Plant Pocket Guide app and the establishment of the Geraldton Coastcare group.

Three major community monitoring programs were supported this year, centred around beach photo-monitoring, seabird tracking and estuary monitoring. The latter is a new program called Healthy Estuaries which commenced this year at the Moore estuary. Many other community monitoring activities were supported, including weed control and revegetation monitoring using the smartphone app Photomon and Shorebird 2020 surveys.

On-ground weed control activities focused on areas previously treated to maximise kill rates and prevent re-infestation. Pyp Grass spraying was undertaken in the fore-dunes of Cervantes and Jurien Bay, and African Boxthorn control was conducted around the Irwin estuary in Dongara/Port Denison. Funds were allocated to further African Boxthorn works in the Shire of Chapman Valley. In the past year NACC’s Regional Boxthorn Control Strategy was also completed, and the Guilderton Pyp Grass Management Plan commenced. Both plans will be important tools for guiding future investment in managing these environmental weeds.

A number of revegetation projects were funded this year, including Boxthorn exclusion planting at the Irwin estuary, and Coastal Community Grant-funded projects in Kalbarri, Geraldton, Guilderton, Lancelin and Cliff Head (south of Dongara). Program staff assisted with many other community plantings, including those with the Kwelena Mambakort Aboriginal Corporation at Wedge Island and the Leeman Foreshore Development

The Shire of Irwin has commenced Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Planning to address the impacts of increasing erosion and inundation.

Coastal Hazard Risk Management & Adaptation Planning

Community members presenting their ideas for the best way to plant with natives during the garden planning exercise at the Green Head Native Garden Workshop.

Coastal Native Garden Guides

Learning the intricacies of a modern water quality meter can be demanding, but also rewarding when you get the knack.

Healthy Estuaries

Seabird Tracking Reference Group setting up tracking equipment and taking regurgitation samples from Noddy Terns on Lancelin Island

Seabird Monitoring

Organisations such as the City of Greater Geraldton are taking up the Photomon app to monitor on-ground works such as revegetation.

Community Photo Monitoring

The Dongara/Port Denison community assisted with planting 3,000 seedlings in areas where African boxthorn has been removed around the Irwin estuary.
African Boxthorn Control

Pyp-Grass-Control-feat
Pyp Grass Control

Beach wrack quantification surveys undertaken by Edith Cowan University researchers included measuring depth of wrack deposits along beach transects.

Beach Wrack Quantification

The Coastal team supported the Green Head community to collect and record this pile of marine debris from their local beaches.

Beach Clean Ups

Bianca McNeair, NACCs Aboriginal Participation Officer, helping out on a coastal display at Larry Lobster festival in Port Denison.

Community Engagement

Kalbarri Boardriders revegetating dunes at Jaques Point whilst trying not to get distracted by the surf in the background.

Coastal Community Grants

Girl Guides visiting Jurien Bay taking part in a marine debris survey as part of an Appreciate your Beach workshop.

Appreciate Your Beach

The following staff members contributed to the Coastal and Marine Program in 2015-16:

  • Mic Payne
  • Hamish Longbottom
  • Vanessa McGuiness
  • Felicity Beswick
  • Philippa Schmucker

The delivery of this program is supported by a full team of NACC staff working across the Northern Agricultural Region. Click here to see a full list of NACC staff near you.

ABORIGINAL PARTICIPATION PROGRAM

During the past financial year, the Aboriginal Participation Program has not only embraced a new team, but has also developed a new Strategic Plan and introduced new projects and collaborative partnerships – aimed at increasing Aboriginal participation in NRM within the region.
Greg Burrows, Aboriginal Participation Program Coordinator

Photo: Sandalwood seeds used as part of an Aboriginal bushfood and medicine workshop. Community engagement projects like this help to share traditional ecological knowledge across the Northern Agricultural Region.

NACC recognises the unique understanding and management skills that Aboriginal people have in supporting the region’s natural resources.

In particular, establishing the Marlaguwinmanha (returning to country) project has been a highlight for the program. The project was introduced in the past year, and has met with immediate success when the first activity enabled a prominent Wajarri family to return to their country to pass on traditional cultural knowledge to the next generation.

The team has also conducted a number of Aboriginal participation and awareness-raising activities – highlighted during NAIDOC week, National Reconciliation Week and other activities and events in the NACC region. Local Aboriginal NRM knowledge and connection to country was epitomized by Amangu elder Graham Taylor, who gave the “Welcome to Country” at NACC’s Farming Futures Forum in Coorow. Graham recalled his youth growing-up in the Coorow / Three Springs area and how the landscape, climate and biodiversity has changed even during his lifetime.

In addition to conducting its own initiatives, this year the Aboriginal Participation team has also provided assistance with a range of other cross-program activities and projects, including:

  • Assisting with the development of a Coastal Plant App, adding Aboriginal cultural uses of the plants to the app.
  • Supporting the engagement of Aboriginal land holders in NACC’s Biodiversity Program Habitat Fencing Incentive, fencing-off remnant bushland in the region to protect threatened species.
  • Helping the Sustainable Agriculture Program to negotiate a new innovative farming grant for farm demonstrations with a local Aboriginal organisation.

NACC’s highly-successful, flagship project Capacity Building for Indigenous Inmates, continued to develop during 2015-16, with 20 participants completing units towards a Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management, while two additional participants completed their Certificate II and will continue on to obtain units in Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management in the next financial year. NACC is grateful for the collaborative partnership contributions to this project from the Department of Corrective Services and Central Regional TAFE.

Internally, new efforts are being made to increase Aboriginal cultural awareness among all NACC staff and Board members, who have collectively embraced a newly-introduced Aboriginal Participation Strategy, which includes the development and implementation of an internal Reconciliation Action Plan. This includes Aboriginal cultural training through the introduction of a regular newsletter/information sheet called ‘Yamaji Yarns’, and other initiatives run and created by the Aboriginal Participation team. ’Yamaji Yarns’ focuses on a different topic each month, sharing important cultural information and assisting all staff and Board members to become better-versed in local Aboriginal culture and Traditional Ecological Knowledge within the region.

Dann family collecting gulyu (bush potatoe) on country.

Marlaguwinmanha (Returning to Country)

The Aboriginal Participation team attending the Reconciliation Day events held by the City of Greater Geraldton.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Prison team work with Central Regional TAFE Talapia project team to monitor aquatic invasive species.

Capacity Building for Indigenous Prison Inmates

The Aboriginal Green Army Team showcase some of the revegetation and erosion control works carried out in the region.

Aboriginal Green Army Team

Some of the participants of the ranger team spin yarns with NACC’s Aboriginal Participation Program coordinator Greg Burrows (2nd left)

Pilot Ranger Project at Ninghan Station

The following staff members contributed to the Aboriginal Participation Program in 2015-16:

  • Greg Burrows
  • Bianca McNeair

The delivery of this program is supported by a full team of NACC staff working across the Northern Agricultural Region. Click here to see a full list of NACC staff near you.

Financials

"With thanks to outgoing Treasurers Claire Sullivan and Yvonne Marsden for their service, I advise that the Auditor conducted thorough audits on all of the NACC projects-programs with the result that all processes and systems maintained excellent traceability. The Auditor also advised that NACC is a mature, well structured association."

BEV LOGUE, TREASURER

Funding Trends