Whichever way you look at it, 2020 was EPIC and unforgettable.
Although 2020 has been very tough in other parts of the world, and indeed in some parts of Australia, the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) of WA was not a bad place to ‘hide-out’ during a pandemic. We definitely had our fair share of challenges between bushfires, apocalyptic winds and home learning, but all-in-all, I think the NAR was ‘lucky country’ within the ‘lucky country’.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the NACC NRM team has kept its foot on the pedal. During the year, the team submitted or directly supported more than 32 natural resource management (NRM) applications for projects in the NAR. Of these applications, 14 were successful (9 NACC NRM and 5 non-NACC NRM – a very good success rate given how competitive NRM funding is these days). There are still seven applications awaiting announcements, all of which are non-NACC NRM applications which we are very proud to have supported. The outcome of all of this hard work is going to make for a very busy 2021 in the NAR. And that’s good for natural resource management!
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of everybody working and volunteering in natural resource management in the NAR. In particular, I want to recognise the efforts of those who have worked hard on their 2020 applications,but unfortunately were unsuccessful; we know how painful it is missing out.
I am so proud of the NAR NRM community’s collaborative efforts during 2020 and even more excited for what the new year will bring. While we have achieved some great things during 2020 despite the challenges, the hard work has only just begun. Maintaining the strength in our collaborations will be no easy feat, but I can tell you that everyone at NACC NRM is 100% committed to these partnerships and collaborations, and the outcomes they will generate for natural resource management in the NAR in the long-term.
In addition to our collaborations to increase the amount of NRM on-ground activity in the NAR, we have also been updating the regional NRM strategy – NARvis. I am really excited about this work’s progress, particularly the regional strategy which is taking shape thanks to your many contributions. There are still opportunities to provide input. Our NARvis project officer will be out and about in the region in the first half of 2021. Online surveys will also be available to those wanting to contribute from afar.
All of these forward-planning outcomes have been delivered by the team, at the same time as they continued to deliver our already funded, on-ground activities throughout the region.
For example, our flagship ‘Gnow or Never’ project has worked with 12 landholders to undertake fencing, revegtation, and feral animal control activities across 1,382 ha for the conservation of Malleefowl. In addition, our ‘Growing Great Ground’ project has received Expressions of Interest or signed up activities with 13 landholders to address wind and water erosion on farmland. We also:
- Kicked-off an Environmental Restoration Fund project to protect and enhance Carnaby’s Cockatoo habitat in the NAR.
- Commenced a new Regional Land Partnerships project to protect Foote’s grevillea.
- Established an Aboriginal Women’s Conservation Team as part of the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program.
- Completed a Coastal Clean-Up project in partnership with Mid West Ports.
- Received funding from the State NRM Program to deliver a Core Business Investment Program to provide capacity building support to small groups across the NAR.
- We are also contributing to economic recovery by delivering a ‘Green Jobs’ project on behalf of the Department of Environment and Water Resources.
This list is by no means all-encompassing. For example, it doesn’t include all of the events which were organised, then cancelled, then re-organised either online or in-person once the COVID-19 restrictions were eased in WA.
It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to acknowledge the very recent passing of Major General Michael Jeffrey, who supported a number of NACC NRM initiatives, spoke at our soil conferences and served as an inspiration for sustainable agriculture. His many accolades are too numerous to list here, but it is his tireless work to highlight the value of Australia’s soils and the issues they face, which has cemented him in the hearts and minds of those who are passionate about natural resource management in our region. We will be forever grateful for Maj. Gen. Jeffery’s contribution.
Finally, it is hard for me to put into words how proud I am to work with such a fantastic team. They have met the challenges of 2020 with grace, strength, professionalism, and resilience. In the face of the extraordinary challenges thrown-up by 2020, they went out and achieved some outstanding outcomes for sustainable NRM for our region. Based on this success, I’m confident that 2021 has some great things in store for us all.