Landcare ‘starved of funds’ says chair

The chair of the national conservation charity Landcare says the organisation has been “starved of funds” and needs more money and additional volunteers.

Landcare chair Doug Humann, who will address a biennial conference in Sydney on Wednesday, told AAP the charity has had its funding slashed.

“The landcare program has been starved of funds in recent years, it’s lost funds,” Mr Humann said.

“We need to reinstate the level of funding for landcare, the national Landcare Program, it needs to be directed to landcare projects on the ground.

“The twin crises facing land and water management in Australia are climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Conservationists, farmers and climate experts are meeting for the charity’s biennial conference to discuss how Landcare is helping biodiversity and more sustainable farming systems in the face of a changing climate.

During a farm visit to a landcare project at Camden on the outskirts of Sydney on Tuesday, Mr Humann said the charity is reliant on volunteers and needs an injection of youth.

“What we need is more young people involved and we’ve got a particular program running at the conference that’s focused on getting more youth into Landcare,” Mr Humann told AAP.

“It’s always going to be heavily dependent on volunteers, and we encourage that, but it needs that government support as well.”

One of those volunteers is Tony Biffin who helped to plant some of the 22,000 trees that line the banks of the Nepean River at the Camden town farm in Sydney’s south.

The dairy farmer spends about six hours a week volunteering at the council-owned property, where he helps manage the beef cattle herd.

“It comes from a love of … the land here, and the farm,” he told AAP.

“It’s all about sustainability and more sustainable agriculture.”

Mr Biffin said the trees have helped stabilise the farm’s river banks in the face of severe flooding this year, and has improved the property’s biodiversity.

“It is an absolute haven for parrots … and birdlife generally,” Mr Biffin said.

“It’s just beautiful down there … I believe that the native species of birds are now going to dominate the scene.”

The director of the Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University will tell the conference that recent floods, fires and droughts show rapid action is needed to tackle climate change.

“Climate change is affecting everyone, with vulnerable people and ecosystems feeling the pressure the most,” said Professor Mark Howden.

“Landcare is crucial for both reducing net greenhouse gas emissions and for developing effective adaptation responses that maintain our health, our industries and our environment.

“The national Landcare conference provides an opportunity to encourage action, engage young people, and provide solutions to the challenges posed by a changing climate.”

The national Landcare conference is being held in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday.

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