Reflections on the 2017 WA State NRM and Coastal Conference

By Mingenew-Irwin Group Project Officer Anna Maxted

CORRECTION/APOLOGY: This article was was published last week using an incorrect link. The following story is the correct version.

As the only member of staff attending the WA State NRM and Coastal Conference from the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) – a growers group, focused on NRM and environmental projects – it was great to be able to attend and to learn from people in my field who are completing projects to maintain and increase WA’s environmental assets.

There was a lot to learn, and many ideas to take back to the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) to be used in the future.

Avongro’s work revegetating the WA Wheatbelt is certainly something that could be applied to the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR), with the population of Geraldton very close to where many of the NAR environmental groups’ projects take place. The idea that you could take an interested group of volunteers through the whole process from seed collection to monitoring of the established plants is really something NAR groups could trial. Working with interested volunteers from Geraldton would be a great way to get more people engaged in environmental conservation.

Another presentation I heard which could be applicable to the NAR, was the value of networking. Many of the groups which work with NACC work alone and yet could be much more engaged with each other, working together on region-wide projects, especially those which are aimed at environmental education.

Lastly the conference introduced me to different ways of engaging with landholders. For example, Verity Morgan-Schmidt from Farmers for Climate Action talked about how the most effective way of talking to landholders about climate change was by asking what they were seeing on their own farms. This way of explaining to landholders the reasons for on-farm environmental projects is logical, and a good take home message. It could be a way of introducing the idea of revegetating areas of farms, based on the benefits to the farmers, and what they have seen due to low levels of remnant vegetation.

Another possible engagement strategy that Wheatbelt NRM has used, has been doorknocking and having conversations with landholders about taking-on NRM activities such as feral animal control and fencing of remnant vegetation. This was a good reminder that going out to people’s farms for a chat can be a great way to get more people participating in NRM projects.

Overall I found the WA State NRM and Costal Conference a great experience for connecting with professionals and volunteers with a key focus on the environment. The conference gave me ideas about how MIG and other groups in the NAR could better complete on-ground works, work better together and engage with landholders. The three days reminded me that Landcare was a building block of our group, that there are lots of passionate people working on environmental conservation, and that small projects really do add up.

I’m very thankful to NACC for giving me the chance to attend the 2017 State NRM and Costal Conference.

Anna Maxted, Project Officer

Mingenew Irwin Group

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