Appreciating Value and Protecting It Fiercely

Not long after we moved into our house we planted three small cottonwood plants which have thrived in our shady backyard beneath a very old river gum. Collectively they provide a significant level of shade in our backyard for our family. This investment is proving extremely valuable – for many different reasons – in the current climate.

For many in our community, navigating the last couple of weeks has been challenging. Certainly our family is no different. Thankfully, although there has been a lot unenviable tasks for the NACC NRM team to undertake over the last couple of weeks, our team remains energised and committed to our strategic direction.

All of our members would have this week received a letter from the NACC NRM Chair, Dr Rob Keogh mapping out NACC NRM’s responses to Covid-19, but also alerting members to the upcoming release of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. While Covid-19 might have derailed my plans to be sharing this document with you this month, I am very excited to share with you, our revamped purpose way and impact statements which are the guiding statements NACC NRM have implemented to direct our strategic activities.

NACC NRM’s Purpose is: To guide and support the Northern Agricultural Region community to value, and actively protect our region’s natural capital, consistent with the Aspirations and Goals of NARvis.

We Do this by: By Catalysing Community Conservation through passionate delivery of collaborative on-ground projects and education.

We want our Impact to be that: Our natural resources and environment are valued by the community and managed sustainably.

None of these statements should be particularly startling as they are well aligned to our previous Mission, Vision and Values statements. There are two key things that I want to highlight which are new. These are a focus on community valuing and protecting our natural capital and; a focus on our regional NRM plan – NARvis.

Like many of our members and stakeholders who live across our region, our family has been ‘self-isolating’ for nearly a week now. No visitors to our house, no going out except for groceries and work engagements where we have to. Our girls have been out of school too. I know the concept of isolation is not new to many of our valuable primary producing families across the region but it is a bit different for our normally here-and-there bustling household. Between three types of sport across six people in our household there is normally a lot of people going in a lot of different directions. So this week, being the first week of pretty much everything we normally do, being cancelled, we have all had some time on our hands.

Our girls are definitely enjoying the downtime and have started to notice things around them which perhaps might have slipped by before.

Back to our 15-year-old cottonwood trees and our enormous river gum which has been standing a good deal longer than our house and was indeed renovated around when we extended our house 5 years ago. The canopies of these natural delights provide significant shade not just for our backyard, but also our girls’ trampoline. Ordinarily the trampoline sees 1-2 bouncing sessions a week, but three house-bound girls under the age of 7 have been on there every day. During a recent bouncing session, one of our girls noticed, that hanging over their beloved trampoline, from a branch of one cottonwood, was a nest.

The next day they noticed that the nest has two baby birds in it. In a bid to figure out what sort of babies they might be, the girls have been periodically, and very quietly watching the nest to spot Mum and Dad. Finally, over the weekend, our animal loving middle girl spotted the parents and identified them eagerly as being a type of Honey Eater.

Prior to COVID-19 and our home isolation, the value I had placed in those trees was primarily around the shade and therefore safety that it affords our family when the girls are using the trampoline. Now, our whole family values those trees just a bit differently.

They are giving us an opportunity to use a real world experience to teach our girls about predators. Watching the way that Mum and dad cautiously approach the nest every time they bring food. We have talked about how important spiders are in our backyard, so that the Honey Eater has access to silk to make their nest. We have learned how long it will take until the babies are ready to start fledging and although we don’t know what day they hatched, we will be keenly watching their progress to fledging over the coming days. 

As a further positive consequence, our girls have now placed a value on those trees far beyond the shade they provide and are developing a fierce protective mindset about those baby birds.

While I certainly don’t want COVID-19 to hang around forever, I do believe it is important that we see the opportunities in every situation. That is what we are doing at home and also what we are doing at NACC NRM.

The program team are currently reviewing our upcoming program activities to determine what innovative activities we can pursue to continue to deliver our strategic direction. In order to make sure we are delivering in ways that meet your needs, we will soon be sharing a survey with all of you.

I really want to strongly encourage all of you to complete this survey so that we can make sure that what we do over the coming months, meets the needs of most across our community.

Enjoy your backyard,

#stayhome as much as possible,

Take care and best wishes,

Katherine Allen


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