A/Prof Patrick O’Connor featured in Canberra Times opinion piece on a Landcare-led recovery

Active Chair of the National Landcare Network, Associate Professor Patrick O’Connor spoke to Canberra Times about Landcare being the social movement for change over the past 30 years.

Tens of thousands of Australians join Landcare as a way to actively participate and give back to the community. Working in the environment allows them to feel connected to the environment whilst actively making a difference.

Australian Landcare is a collective movement where the National Landcare Network (NLN) is the representative voice of Landcarers’ at the national level. The NLN and state are accountable to the collective of community Landcare networks and groups. To be the best change-leader, it’s important to listen to representatives from all parts of the movement.

Without representative processes Landcare could become a project management business or another part of natural resource bureaucracy.

To be a part of the movement, one’s project priorities must include:

  • adapting actions to local conditions
  • bringing innovation to environmental stewardship
  • in fair distribution of funding
  • in representative organisations from your group up to the NLN

Without these priorities, a project would fall short of the Landcare ideal.

This is important as environmental variability challenges communities and the management of land, water and the economy. Whether that is from natural cycles or from climate change, bushfires or a virus we mitigate and adapt as a must.

Landcare members recognise that humans are more resilient together to tackle the challenges of local environmental degradation, natural disasters, climate change and species extinction. Participating in Landcare is a way of building networks and skills for adapting and responding to changes expected and unexpected, with the key being action.

As natural disasters have impacted Australia greatly in the last few years, this has been compounded with the disruption of COVID-19.

Human health, the environment, society and the economy are interwoven and positive actions on one can have benefits for the others. When the economy starts to wake from the current hibernation it will take some time before it becomes fully functional again. This is where stimulating community Landcare activities across Australia can offer a huge opportunity to employ an under-utilised workforce in improving the sustainability of our community and agricultural sector, and the environment on which it depends.

Landcare programs can be upscaled to get people working immediately and we should take the opportunity to employ Australians in helping to repair the natural infrastructure on which our healthy society depends.

Post adapted from A/Prof Patrick O’Connor opinion piece in Canberra Times.

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