2020 – 2021 Annual Report

Annual Report 2020-2021

NACC NRM

Acknowledgment of Country

NACC NRM acknowledges the Traditional Owners and original natural resource managers of the land and sea country of the Northern Agricultural Region. NACC NRM’s activities are conducted on the lands of the Yamaji and Noongar peoples; we acknowledge their elders past present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia.

Chair - Rob Keogh

ceo

CEO - Katherine Allen

Treasurer - Susanne Levett

“Our dedicated team, well led by CEO Katherine Allen, have adapted to working within the constraints imposed by COVID and, despite the shock of Cyclone Seroja in the first quarter of 2021, have continued to deliver against our milestones.”

Dr. Rob Keogh, Chair

Community Reach

Hitting the Ground Running

The end of 2020 saw COVID-19 restrictions relax and life within the Northern Agricultural Region return to a new kind of normal. However, the legacy of COVID-19 lives on through the countless online video calls and webinars that allow us to reach people from far and wide, and have become a useful tool in daily operations! After much rescheduling and postponing, the NACC NRM team were able to dive back into in-person events, site visits and field work. 

Our programs teams have been out and about connecting with stakeholders and clients, in places like Kallanie, Greenhead, Moora, Dongara, and Nanson to name a few. Re-wiring the way in which we work and navigating reconnecting with the community has been the team’s main priority this past year, with increased social media reach across all platforms, and community engagement at an all-time high.  

Over the last financial year, NACC NRM’s Facebook page gained 280 followers, and had a reach increase of 131%, with one post reaching over 30,000 people! We were proud to host 38 community engagement events, allowing us to engage with over 800 people across the region.

Program Overview

“We’re committed to continual improvement, ‘raising the bar’, working better with more of the community, and delivering the best possible natural resource management activities across the Northern Agricultural Region.”

Katherine Allen, CEO

Financials

Funding by Source

Funding by Program

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Chair’s Report

In last year’s Annual Report, I reflected on the importance and characteristics of resilience for an organisation like NACC NRM. These reflections were made against a background of a significant change in our funding model, intensifying climate change and the great uncertainty known as COVID- 19.

While none of these factors has been resolved, NACC NRM has demonstrated great resilience in all the characteristics I considered a year ago. Astute management has seen NACC NRM’s financial position strengthen considerably but the challenge to diversify our sources of funding remains.

Our dedicated team, well led by CEO Katherine Allen, have adapted to working within the constraints imposed by COVID and, despite the shock of Cyclone Seroja in the first quarter of 2021, have continued to deliver against our milestones. Indeed, these constraints and disruptions have fostered a clearer focus on the priority issues and on activities that return the best reward for effort.

Our improved financial position has provided the opportunity to respond to regional priorities that might not meet national funding criteria. The re-establishment of the Coastal and Marine team was our first exercising of this discretion and has proven to be a catalyst for renewed community activity in this important area.

A major initiative completed in 2020/21 was the revision of NARvis, the regional NRM Strategy. A process of broad consultation and detailed analysis has produced a clear framework for addressing the NRM threats and opportunities facing our region. NACC NRM’s organisational priorities and planning will draw on the NARvis framework.

Also upgraded during 20/21 was NACC’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with the drafting of an “Innovate” RAP. As with NARvis, the NACC NRM Board and management are committed to integrating the RAP into our priorities, planning and operations.

Given the above, I view the year ahead with confidence and optimism, and look forward to working with our members and the many regional community groups that have a commitment to the natural resources of our region.

Rob Keogh

CEO’s Report

The passionate and committed NACC NRM team were up for a challenge in 2020-21. What challenge? To take our achievements from 2019-20 and deliver even more. We’re committed to continual improvement, ‘raising the bar’, working better with more of the community, and delivering the best possible natural resource management activities across the NAR.

Previously I have talked about our focus on collaboration, partnerships and opportunities, and how this has driven NACC NRM’s approach and activities. I am pleased to report that we continued our commitment to these in 2020-21, strengthening existing collaborations and building new ones. For example, we recently established an exciting new research partnership with Curtin University to support a PhD student within our Sustainable Agriculture program.

With renewed vigour, we are pursuing our Purpose.

Our Purpose is to ensure that the Northern Agricultural Region community values, and actively protects our region’s natural capital, consistent with the Visions and Goals of NARvis.

Our Way is Catalysing Community Conservation through passionate delivery of collaborative on-ground projects and education.

Our Impact will be that the health of the natural resources and environment of the NAR are improved.

The strategic pillars underpinning this Purpose include goals across four broad themes: (i) On-ground Activities, (ii) Aboriginal Custodianship, (iii) Community Engagement, and (iv) Organisational Capability. I look forward to sharing more about these goals at our AGM in October.

Throughout 2020-21 there have been some notable organisational successes. Worth mentioning, in particular, is the expansion of the Sustainable Agriculture program in scope and subsequently in team size to deliver several new collaborative projects. Partners in these projects include regional grower groups, universities, WA Government departments, and private enterprise.

Our Biodiversity program and team have also swelled – delivering an increased scope of activities. These activities include confirming a previously unknown northernmost population of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos and the application of LIDAR to prioritise Malleefowl conservation activities. NACC NRM is also very excited to continue our partnership with Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program partners and collectively apply for funding to continue this program through to 2028.

Overlaying all of NACC NRM’s programs has been an update of NARvis, the Northern Agricultural Region NRM strategy. As the custodian of this strategy, NACC NRM employed a dedicated NARvis Project Officer to drive an extensive consultation and review process throughout 2020-21. Consultation occurred over three phases and included a range of modalities, including face-to-face workshops, online workshops, and online surveys. We’re extremely grateful to everyone who participated in these activities and contributed to this process. A full report on the consultation is available here. The open consultation process was complemented by a NARvis Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising representatives with a range of expertise from various organisations. This group contributed many hours during the year to ensure the most up-to-date, publicly available data guided the strategy. We are very grateful to those individuals and the organisations who volunteered their time to participate.

As 2020-21 represents the mid-way point of Regional Land Partnerships (RLP) program funding, it has been a particularly busy year for reporting across this program. These reports indicate that all of our projects are on track to deliver their 5-year outcomes. Program level reviews, which have been instigated from within the Federal Government, are still underway and will continue well into FY22. Throughout these reviews, NACC NRM continues to advocate for programs and funding that enables action against community NRM priorities across the NAR.

We cannot report on 2020-21 without mentioning Tropical Cyclone Seroja. The community impact of TC Seroja has been significant and many in our region are still dealing with the challenges of rebuilding. Following up with insurance companies while still trying to run farms or other small businesses is not a welcome prospect for anyone. NACC NRM has teamed up with Inlander Pty Ltd to assess some of the environmental impacts from the air. We have also engaged with local Members of Parliament and government department representatives to advocate for a more thorough environmental assessment and subsequent follow-up funding to support environmental recovery activities across affected areas. It is pleasing to see commitments from the WA Government for these communities. We eagerly await further details so that we may support environmental recovery when communities and landholders are ready for this next step in rebuilding.

As we approach 2021-22 the NACC NRM Management Team and I have already begun forward planning to develop a pipeline of sustained activities for delivery through the program changeover period from June 2023 onwards. We are excited to have a refreshed NARvis to guide this planning.

I would like to finish up by saying a very big thank you to all partners, stakeholders and individuals who have contributed to NACC NRM’s activities throughout 2020-21. Your contributions are critical to our ongoing success. We look forward to consolidating 2020-21 achievements throughout 2021-22 to continue to improve the health of the natural resources and environment of the NAR.

Best Wishes

 

Katherine Allen

Treasurer’s Report 

The past year has reflected significant progress as the NACC NRM team has settled into rolling out projects to meet our contractual obligations with our funding bodies. As we pass the mid-point of the Regional Land Partnerships (RLP), it is encouraging that the organisation has continued to attract new funding from other sources. One example is the ‘Beyond Reasonable Drought’ project, funded by the NRM Landscapes Program of the Commonwealth Government’s Future Drought Fund.  Also, the Chapman Catchment Regeneration Project, which is supported by the State NRM Program to mention but two. Negotiations are also underway to finalise an agreement to continue the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program (MARP).

I draw your attention to the Financial Results for the year ending 30 June 2021. The audit was performed by William Buck, first through an interim audit before the end of the financial year and then finalised via an onsite audit at our Geraldton Office in August. The audit reveals that NACC NRM maintains a strong Balance Sheet position. With more funding becoming available through grants, so too has the Balance Sheet grown. Our assets are primarily cash; however, low interest rates mean that the yield from these assets is minimal. Liabilities remain similar to those of the previous year.

The Operating Statement outlines that NACC NRM recognised income of $4,913,849 against expenditure of $3,914,572, resulting in a surplus of $999,277 for the financial year. This surplus is partially driven by the move to the procurement model of service delivery under Regional Land Partnerships, where NACC NRM delivers services for a price agreed at the commencement of the contract (in this case 2018-2019).  Through efficient delivery of these services, NACC was able to retain savings from these projects to redirect to other regional NRM priorities, including the appointment of Coastcare Support Officers.  It should be noted that of the surplus at the end of 2020-21, at least $375,000 is committed to project activities through contractual agreements with grower groups, landholders and other NRM groups in the region. These activities primarily relate to the ‘Growing Great Ground’ and ‘Beyond Reasonable Drought’ projects.

You will recall in the last year, work was underway to engage with stakeholders to update NACC NRM’s interactive Regional NRM plan (NARvis). I have personally taken an interest in this project, and I encourage you to familiarise yourself with this 10 year roadmap for regional NRM.

The organisation has also continued to build capability through an IT systems upgrade and increases in capacity to deliver additional projects. One focus for 2021-22 will be to find suitable accommodation for the larger NACC NRM team into the future.

To my fellow Directors, it has been a great pleasure working with you again. To our departing Directors, a big thank you for your contribution to NACC NRM.  I am looking forward to welcoming our new Directors and deliberating on NACC NRM business for the greater benefit of the Northern Agricultural Region communities and the environment. I appreciate the work that our Chair, Dr Robert Keogh puts in both formally and informally on behalf of the organisation.

In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge all of our funding bodies, individuals, community-based organisations, the NACC NRM team for your support in the year that has been and offer you my best wishes for the coming year.

Thank you.

Susanne Levett

Aboriginal Custodianship – Program Overview

Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program

NACC NRM recognises the intrinsic link that Aboriginal culture has to Country, Language, Lore and Dreaming and acknowledge that all of these are directly related to specific Country. Together, these elements provide a pathway for increasing self-determination for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people in natural resource management and the transfer and practice of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the region. NACC NRM is committed to meaningful engagement, collaboration, and co-design with Aboriginal peoples. This ‘two-way’ land and sea management philosophy combines traditional knowledge and contemporary science to conserve culture and protect biodiversity.

Funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet through the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program (MARP) is now in its fourth year. This project provides opportunities for Aboriginal people across the Midwest region to engage in natural resource management (NRM) activities.

The Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program offers employment and training placements for rangers and ranger teams through three program delivery partners; Kwelena Mambakoort Aboriginal Corporation (KMAC), Western Mulga and the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). These partners deliver on-ground NRM activities with a focus on supporting cultural connection to Country for employees. This program has proven successful, particularly in delivering employment and training outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal people and organisations. In consultation with our delivery partners, NACC NRM submitted an application to continue MARP to 2028 during FY21.

Western Mulga has employed over 20 rangers during the year, including an expansion of female employment opportunities through delivery of the Aboriginal Woman’s Conservation Team previously operated from within NACC NRM. WM rangers are encouraged to share their cultural knowledge within the team through opportunities to represent when visiting their respective Country. This activity has provided opportunities for leadership across the group. Training has continued to be a strong focus for all ranger teams, with participants progressing Certificate III and IV Conservation and Land Management. Western Mulga has continued to manage sites in consultation with the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) and Traditional Owners.

KMAC’s trainees have undertaken diverse opportunities, including work on Declared Flora and Threatened Species, and learning directly from Yued Elders. DBCA rangers have applied and increased their skills in fire management through regular participation in fire activities and incidents throughout the year. Participants from the other providers also supported prescribed burns during summer and contributed to revegetation during winter. The program has provided over 200 unique on-Country activities that support environmental management and conservation outcomes and preservation of Aboriginal sites.

Aboriginal Custodianship – Program Highlight

Cross-regional collaboration has been a highlight this year. An example of this was the regional meeting held in Green Head in XXX 2020. Specifically, this location represents a transition zone between Yued and Yamaji Country. Across three days, ranger teams were guided by Traditional Owners and other inspirational Aboriginal people to connect to country and culture.  This included the inspection of Yued and Yamaji sites, discussion of survey techniques, traditional foods, and Aboriginal agriculture opportunities. This event was complimentary to an Aboriginal language workshop, ranger awards presentation, and a site visit conducted with Naaguja Traditional Owner’s earlier in the year. 

KMAC has provided additional opportunities for their ranger team through intra-state exchanges with other teams delivering professional ranger activites and cultural experiences.  Exchange activities have included engagement with State and Local Government agencies, a number of mining companies and NGO’s. The KMAC rangers have also been conducting flora assessments during much of Autumn.

Western Mulga has also expanded their opportunities through delivery of vegetation assessments under sequestration initiatives. This activity supports on-ground activities and is a unique training opportunity for rangers on-Country within aemerging industry. The expansion of ranger skills and Traditional Owner engagement during the year has supported improved Aboriginal engagement across other areas of NACC NRM project delivery.  

Biodiversity – Program Overview

The Biodiversity program has continued to soar this year, with projects generating egg-cellent results. During FY21, the biodiversity team has focused on stakeholder engagement to conserve, restore, and collaborate with the community for threatened species management. Two Return to Country events, previously delayed by COVID, were delivered during the year. These events engaged over 175 Traditional Custodians and community members on Country to support the preservation of Malleefowl.

The two projects running for all of 2020-2021, ‘Protecting WA’s Black-cockatoos’ and ‘Gnow or Never’ (Malleefowl) have increased habitat protection and regeneration activities in partnership with landholders. While these on-ground activities increase habitats for target species, they also benefit non-target species and farm productivity. During FY21, these projects achieved over 175ha of revegetation and over 500 Ha of habitat protected. Major events have impacted our region during this period, most notably Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

Given these challenges, strong relationships with stakeholders have been critical to successfully maintaining project services and delivering or exceeding annual targets. The ‘Protecting WA’s Black-cockatoos’ project has delivered 10 new artificial nesting hollows this year and maintained a further 80 hollows across a key breeding site in the region. This year’s commencement of the ‘Setting seed: Rescuing Foote’s Grevillea (Grevillea calliantha)’ project has supported the planting of 270 propagules of this critically endangered species. 

Biodiversity – Highlight

Three years in, ‘Gnow or Never’ is demonstrating achievement against the project’s intended outcomes. The project has enabled landholders within the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) to protect over 1100 hectares of Malleefowl habitat (roughly the size of Cocos Keeling Islands) and supported landholders to strategically target and revegetate over 400 hectares of cleared agricultural land. In addition to providing habitat for Malleefowl these works also support landholders to combat salinity and on-farm wind and water erosion. Actively protecting remnant vegetation also enhances conditions for other endemic species. Co-benefits for ecology and biodiversity are also achieved through regionally coordinated invasive species control supported by this project.

The installation of ten new artificial hollows within the ‘Protecting WA’s Black-cockatoos’ project has been a key achievement for this project. We are very excited to report that within months of their installation, they were being prospected by Carnaby’s for this year’s breeding season.  This project has also provided engagement with students for species conservation. Driven by a dedicated NACC NRM volunteer – with support from the NACC NRM team – these activities engaged 84 students, calling on them to be champions Carnaby Black-cockatoo preservation.

This year, the Biodiversity team was also excited to support and deliver two new projects through funding from the WA Government’s Greenjobs initiative. The ‘Northern Ecological Linkages project’ and ‘Northern Coastal Carnaby’s project’ are part of the Environmental Revegetation and Rehabilitation Fund (ERRF). These projects both supported employment and training to achieve strategically located seed collection. These projects were delivered through partner organisations and community groups across the region, employing and developing the skills of over 24 people.  It was excellent to achieve such high community engagement through these projects, in partnership with Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program participants, Yued Elders and Moore Catchment Council.

Coastal and Marine – Program Overview

The Coastal and Marine Program’s first full year of operation since re-establishment in 2020 has been very successful. Two grant applications were successful:

  • Coastwest, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage: ‘Building Community Capacity in the Northern Agricultural Region’
  • Midwest Port Authority Community Grant Program: ‘Coronation Beach Clean Up’

The latter project resulted in a well-attended beach clean up event in October 2020. The former project is nearing completion and enabled a successful Coastcarer Forum; three Coastal school curriculum packages (watch this space!); and formed of the Turquoise Coast Management Group (TCMG) to facilitate partnership projects between community groups and coastal managers.

A further five funding applications were submitted during the year, with many more supported by the Coastal and Marine team.

  • Coastwest, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage: ‘Deflation salvation for Coronation Dunes’ and ‘Collaborating Coastcare in the Northern Agricultural Region’
  • State NRM: ‘Cross-regional management of road registered four-wheel drives in coastal WA’, ‘Supporting coastal communities through small grants’ and ‘Mitigating marine debris impacts on breeding seabirds at Houtman Abrolhos’.

An exciting first for the team was signing a two-year Service Agreement with the City of Greater Geraldton to deliver boxthorn workshops and monthly beach photo-monitoring.

Building the capacity of coastal communities has been the major theme for FY21. COVID-safe road trips to visit all coastal community groups throughout the region revealed NACC NRM’s Coastal Community Grants Program has been sorely missed. This provided some impetus for one of the State NRM applications mentioned above.

Many individual group projects have also been supported by the Coastal and Marine Team team, thanks to funding from the Core Business Investment Plan component of the State NRM Program. The team provided planning advice for Sharp Rush control at Hill Estuary, Pyp Grass control in Cervantes and Jurien, and dune restoration in Kalbarri, Geraldton, Green Head and Lancelin, to name just a few. The Coastal and Marine Team is looking forward to the upcoming inaugural Turquoise Coast Management Group (TCMG) meeting and looks forward to the many partnership projects that this new group will be able to kick start, over the coming years.

Coastal & Marine – Program Highlight

The Coastal Program has been supporting regional Coastcarer Forums since 2012. The most recent forum, held in Jurien Bay, was an outstanding success with around 40 attendees and many fascinating presentations. These events always have a positive energy about them, with shared Coastcare experiences a common theme across the presentations. They are a welcome ‘shot in the arm’ for volunteer communities seeking to mitigate ever-present coastal impacts, particularly with the added pressures that ‘holidaying at home’ has brought to the small coastal towns and their fragile coastal environments within our region. A significant opportunity exists to divert this positive energy towards partnership projects with coastal managers via the Turquoise Coast Management Group.

Sustainable Agriculture – Program Overview

NACC NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture Team has been working closely with land managers, community groups, and industry experts to address challenges facing the region’s agricultural sector. This year has realised growth in project delivery for the NACC NRM Sustainable Agriculture program with a renewed focus on drought susceptibility and climate change through successful funding of ‘Beyond Reasonable Drought’ through the Australian Governments Future Drought Fund. This initiative contributes to the existing ‘Growing Greater Ground’ project to support the improvement of soil management and on-farm ecosystems of the NAR.

Through funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships Program, NACC NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture Program has supported practice change across 384ha of agricultural land to reduce the risk of soil carbon and nutrient loss. Additional commitments have been made for practice change on a further 115ha of agricultural land to protect and enhance Native vegetation and On-farm Biodiversity. Our ‘Growing Greater Ground’ project has engaged with seven regional groups by delivering events and activities, demonstrating the broad and expanding community participation the program is generating. Beyond Reasonable Drought has realised a commitment from three groups to deliver project activities across 760ha of trial sites.

A key deliverable for the Sustainable Agriculture Team is the Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator (RALF) role. The RALF team within NACC NRM has continued building relationships and has strengthened working partnerships with Landcare Groups, Grower Groups, landholders and schools in the Northern Agricultural Region, particularly those impacted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja in April 2021. Many agricultural businesses in the region have experienced significant damage to infrastructure, and native vegetation damage is also substantial. The Sustainable Agriculture Team, working closely with impacted communities, continues to provide support wherever possible as works to rebuild and recover progress. This includes promoting available assistance and continuing to check-in with key stakeholders.

Sustainable Agriculture – Program Highlight

NACC NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture Team has continued to deliver projects funded through the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program with two new initiatives funded during FY21. These new projects include the ‘Chapman Catchment – Collaborative Landscape Scale Regeneration’ and ‘Building a Buzz for Beneficial Bugs’, which support landholders to improve sustainability outcomes. The ‘Chapman Catchment – Collaborative Landscape Scale Regeneration’ is an exciting opportunity for NACC NRM and the region to apply, demonstrate and assess landscape regeneration activities in partnership with landholders. This project is complemented by the support from regional stakeholders, enabling adoption of practices and economic analysis of the project activities.

Cross-regional collaboration has also been a highlight this period. The Rangelands and NACC NRM partnership delivered a regenerative agriculture workshop leading to an ongoing commitment between NACC NRM and Rangelands RALF’s to create a regular “Sharing Stories” feature. This promotion of local landholders implementing sustainable production activities within the regions is a great way to extend knowledge and awareness to other landholders, encouraging wider adoption of sustainable agriculture practices. 

Events have been a buzz this year. The Sustainable Agriculture Team has partnered with eight regional groups to facilitate more than a dozen events, including the Soil Carbon Roadshow through ‘Growing Greater Ground’. The roadshow consisted of four workshops across the region, attracting more than 80 participants to learn more about soil carbon. The team also hosted a native grasses workshop in Perenjori with participants travelling from as far away as Bunbury to attend. The diversity of events during this period also incorporated a successful grant writing workshop. Participant engagement remains high across the region with a variety of events planned for 2021-2022.