Optimism in the face of challenging and changing conditions

Optimism! For me, that was perhaps the overwhelming emotion that I picked-up from just about everyone who attended the excellent “Farming Futures Forum” workshop which NACC conducted in Coorow this week.

Other words that came to mind as I listened to one after another of the excellent line-up of speakers – as they addressed the Forum’s sub-topic “Agriculture in a changing climate” – included: adaptation, ideas, information, innovation, inspiration, diversification and opportunity.

It really was an inspiring forum, and I know, fully appreciated by the full-house of farmers and other NAR community members in attendance in the Coorow hall.

Optimism can only come with information. And helping our community, particularly our farmers, being better informed was a principal purpose behind NACC organising the Forum. It is also a principal purpose behind NACC’s “NRM Planning for Climate Change” project – which the forum fell under – that we’ve been implementing these past few years.

The forum is just the latest activity that we’ve conducted under this project, having previously conducted numerous community workshops, consultations and meetings – engaging with community groups, local government authorities, and individuals – including many local farmers – in a two-way process aimed at informing and being informed.

All along the way, we’ve had the benefit of invaluable advice and input from members of a project Technical Working Group who have helped guide and inform implementation. To everyone who’s helped-out in one way or another, a sincere “thank-you”.

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A big “thank-you” also needs to go to the NACC staff who have helped deliver this important project, especially Emma Jackson and Sarah Samulkiewicz-Taylor. Emma and Sarah have overseen the community and stakeholder interactions which have helped shape the project, identifying local priorities, gathering local perspectives and ultimately ensuring positive on-ground NRM outcomes.

A lot of that input and information has gone into NACC’s online presentation of the regional NRM Strategy in the form of NARvis – an interactive, multi-layered, online website that provides easy access to current NRM-relevant climate information specific to our region, catchments and sub-catchments.

There’s a lot of information on the website about NRM in the Northern Agricultural Region, but also a lot about climate change, its implications for the NAR, and what interventions land managers might like to consider to maximise environmental benefits now and landscape resilience into the future.

I would urge everyone to have a look at the climate change section on the NARvis website.

I’d also urge them to feel free to provide feedback on further information that might be considered for inclusion, or examples of successful adaptation activities being undertaken by farmers in our region. We saw some great examples of these at the forum, and some great leadership in this area being shown by local farmers who shared their experiences in adapting to a changing climate.

As I said in my closing words at the forum: “We’re all in this together”.

Richard McLellan

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