Eyeing opportunities with new Government

Queensland’s 14 regional natural resource management groups see the delivery of the re-elected Labor Government’s $500m Land Restoration Fund as a prime opportunity to build on their strong partnerships and consolidate the solid returns on investment they’ve provided to agriculture and the environment over the past decade.

Chair of Natural Resource Management Regions Queensland (NRMRQ), Stephen Robertson, said his organisation, and its 14 members groups, is looking forward to working with the new Government to achieve an even more sustainable, resilient and productive environment and deliver on the key initiatives of its flagship $500m Land Restoration Fund.

“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Premier Palaszczuk on two things,” Mr Robertson said, “her recent, historic, election win; and her government’s commitment to a more productive environment through its $500 million Land Restoration Fund.”

“I’d also like to congratulate Minister for Environment, Leeanne Enoch, and Minister for Natural Resources, Anthony Lynham, on their appointments, and I look forward to meeting with them as soon as possible to discuss the details of the Land Restoration Fund.”

Mr Robertson said the State’s NRM groups are not only specialists in natural resource management, they have an unrivaled reputation for working with landholders to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions, leverage financial and in-kind contributions to supplement government investment, and are strategically positioned to deliver the clean water, productive land and healthy ecosystems that the State and the community expects and needs.

“Over the past three years we’ve collectively delivered extraordinary environmental and production outcomes for Queensland on ever-reducing budgets: we’ve worked with 880 farmers across 3.3 million hectares, we’ve protected or restored over 6,000 hectares of wetlands, undertaken 7.7 million hectares of feral animal control and 6,000 hectares of soil restoration, and conducted 3.8 million hectares of weed control,” he said.

“If we want a healthy environment, if we want productive farming and grazing lands, if we want clean water and a healthy reef, then we must have specialist NRM groups working with their feet in the dirt, shoulder to shoulder with land managers to make it happen.”

Funding cuts risk water infrastructure

Funding cuts to land and water management groups across the State are threatening environmental health, agricultural productivity and, ultimately, essential State infrastructure like the Mt Crosby water treatment plant.

With the Brisbane River more mud than water in January 2013, blocked filters shut the Mt Crosby water treatment plant for half a day… the capital city’s taps came within hours of running dry.

According to NRM Regions Queensland CEO, Andrew Drysdale, said it’s way past time that Governments realise they can’t have their cake and eat it: the natural resource management groups that are on the frontline, helping land managers with best practice land management, erosion control and sediment reduction, must be adequately funded.

“If we want a healthy environment, if we want productive farming and grazing lands, if we want clean water flowing into our water treatment plants around the State, then we must have well-funded NRM groups working, with their feet in the dirt, shoulder to shoulder with land managers to make it happen.”

“Natural resource management is a specialist field, and NRM groups, as the specialists, should be given sufficient funding to deliver the clean water that the State and the community expects and needs.

Mr Drysdale also said that natural resource management issues are complex enough without having conflicting or competing interests across the departments and non-government organisations tasked with managing these vital assets.

“Not only do we need adequate funding, we need to ensure we are all pulling in the same direction, we need to have our politicians understand that we can’t have a productive landscape and clean water if we don’t have a healthy environment.

“And they need to acknowledge that the specialists in the field are the ones to work with land managers and other stakeholders to deliver the outcomes.”

Natural resource management groups across Queensland work on maintaining the health and productivity of our land and ocean ecosystems, the quality and supply of water resources, and support for resilient and engaged communities said Mr Drysdale.

“Over the past three years we’ve collectively delivered extraordinary environmental and production outcomes for Queensland on ever-reducing budgets,” he said.

“We’ve worked with 880 farmers across 3.3 million hectares, we’ve protected or restored over 6,000 hectares of wetlands, 7.7 million hectares of feral animal control, 6,000 hectares of soil restoration, 3.8 million hectares of weed control; the list goes on.

Mr Drysdale said his group is challenging all election candidates to endorse their Enhancing Living Landscapes, Delivering Local Livelihoods manifesto which supports adequate funding to ensure the future of the State’s primary production health and the environmental systems upon which it is built.

Uncertain Future

Changing climatic conditions are a concern to all Queenslanders and the peak body of the State’s NRM regional groups is calling on all candidates in the upcoming election to make an undertaking to support these groups on the frontline of helping producers and the environment adapt.

Natural Resource Management Regions Queensland CEO, Andrew Drysdale, said that even climate change deniers agree that things are changing.

“The enormous amount of scientific support for anthropogenic climate change does not have to be accepted; not everyone takes an evidence-based road to their opinions and beliefs,” Mr Drysdale said.

He said that even if we are not sure that we are descending towards a climate armageddon with rising oceans and temperatures and drastic impacts on civilisation, the precautionary principle dictates that we should act.

“The precautionary principle means that while you may not be certain of a threat or potential threat, you still take precautions, ‘just in case’,” he said.

People closest to the land – farmers, landholders, land managers – and people working close to the ocean, know ‘something’ is going on, that we live in a time of climatic change. The predictable regularity that we, our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents once knew was the foundation for primary production decision making.

Change brings unpredictability. Different temperature profiles mean a change of competitive viability among species and, often, the most competitive species are weeds.

“Changes in weather conditions change ecosystems. Benign plants can turn into Genghis Khans of the plant world… we don’t entirely understand the triggers, but we do know it happens. We have seen prickly acacia, rubber vine and parthenium dominate large tracts of Queensland’s rangelands, costing many millions of dollars in control,” Andrew Drysdale said.

He said that land managers and Natural Resource Management groups are on the frontline of weed control.

“MRM groups employees and their contractors are out there every day spraying, flying drones, researching, coordinating, innovating, documenting and fighting these menaces to our environment and productivity.

“NRM groups are the border protection agencies of ecosystems throughout the State of Queensland, observing, then controlling when needed,” he said.

Worsening droughts, worse flooding, more severe storms. We are seeing increased firestorms around the globe. This all affects primary production and the State’s GDP. The threat is real; Queensland has seen it all before, from prickly pear to prickly acacia. With ecological change, benign and even beneficial plants can change their nature and become land hungry and takeover huge areas.

This is the strength of having the people of NRM groups in the field, talking to landholders, observing and interpreting change, being part of the ongoing coordination of various agencies of which the NRM groups are but one.

NRM groups need to be maintained so they can do this work with confidence and strength.

This is a simple but necessary precaution against drastic climatic change in the future. Queensland needs leadership. And the State needs its NRM groups.

Calling on politicians to support regions

The State’s natural resource management groups are calling on all candidates for the Queensland election to undertake to support ongoing natural resource work in the regions.

In the face of reduced support from governments, the State’s 14 natural resource management groups, represented by the peak body, NRM Regions Queensland (NRMRQ) say the future management of Queensland’s natural resources is under threat with the reduction of support from State and Federal governments.

NRM groups work on the frontline in the defence against major threats to Queensland, holding back the tide of noxious weeds and their calamitous effect on production, and waging an ongoing war on feral animals and their impact on primary production with species such as feral pigs becoming a potentially uncontrollable vector in the spread of contagious disease.

The NRM groups’ reduced funding has led to a parlous situation, potentially leaving Queensland open to the threats on many fronts brought about by the reduction of Government and NGO services.

This reduction of support has forced job losses, a reduction in efficiencies of scale, a loss of expertise in the regions, and a reduced ability to complete essential NRM work.

Natural resource management groups fulfill an important role supporting Queensland’s primary producers, agribusinesses and communities.

Coastal NRM groups improve the health of the rivers and landscapes of coastal ecosystems, and work on projects to reduce the outflow of nutrients and sediment so damaging to the already threatened Barrier Reef, while inland groups rise to the production challenges of weeds, feral animals and grazing pressures.

The bleeding of funding for natural resource management and the specialist groups who deliver it is a concern for all Queenslanders, not just landholders in the bush, but urban people along the coastal strip, including residents in the south-east corner who wish to see Queensland and its future safe from current and future threats.

The 2017 Queensland election campaign offers politicians and candidates an opportunity to reaffirm their support for natural resource management in the State.

NRMRQ is asking all candidates standing in the State election to undertake to support the ongoing work that these groups carry out, ensuring a viable future for all Queenslanders

Queenslanders need a guarantee that our magnificent landscapes, rivers, ocean and reef systems that we have enjoyed for generations, remain for our grandchildren and beyond.

All Queensland election candidates are being challenged to stand up for Queensland and support policy that ensures the ongoing effectiveness of these important NRM groups.

Blueprint for regional jobs

In the lead up to the State election, Queensland’s leading natural resource management body is urging all political parties to endorse its blueprint for securing rural and regional jobs and the viability of communities.

As the State’s rural industries continue to reel under the weight of soil loss, declining water quality, exotic pests and extreme weather events, rural jobs are evaporating and communities are withering.

Natural Resource Management Regions Queensland (NRMRQ) Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Drysdale, said the considerable expertise of NRMRQ and its 14 member groups has been brought to bear to develop a simple, five step plan to arrest the decline, strengthen rural and regional jobs, and ensure our communities are secure.

“Our member groups have more than 200 years of combined experience in what makes our regional communities tick; we know when we have a healthy, well managed landscape, we have productive rural industries that generate jobs and support our towns,” he said.

“Whoever forms government after the election, our Enhancing Living Landscapes, Delivering Local Livelihoods document is a blueprint for action.”

In relation to natural resource management in Queensland, Enhancing Living Landscapes, Delivering Local Livelihoods advocates:

  • a detailed set of guiding principles;
  • a five-year action plan targeting priority threats to viability and sustainability;
  • a State-wide NRM Council to ensure efforts are coordinated, effective, and focussed;
  • funding that recognises the ones who make a difference on the ground (landholders, communities, local NRM groups); and
  • increasing the ability of these key groups to deliver change.

When calling on the State’s political parties to endorse these five key components of the Enhancing Living Landscapes, Delivering Local Livelihoods document, Mr Drysdale said that while great progress has been made in managing Queensland’s natural assets, significant challenges remained and more work was needed.

“Every Queenslander and every community in Queensland benefits from a healthy landscape; there’s an economic and social dividend when we achieve an environmental dividend.”

Safety Net Unveiled

Around 70 Traditional Owners, cattle producers and other supporters gathered in Chillagoe recently for the launch of Living Landscapes; Local Livelihoods, a blueprint for Queensland’s future agricultural productivity and environmental health.

According to NRM Regions Queensland Chair, Stephen Robertson, Living Landscapes; Local Livelihoods is our road map to a future where healthy ecosystems and water resources are harnessed by engaged communities for sustainable production.

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Flood Recovery Support Offered

In the wake of ongoing floods down the east coast, rural and urban fringe landholders are being urged to make use of all the resources, support and expertise available to them in coping and recovering from Nature’s lashing.

Mr Andrew Drysdale, CEO of the Regional Groups Collective, said his member bodies stand prepared, after emergency services and local government, to assist rural landholders with flood recovery.

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Queensland’s regions represented at first Australian threatened species summit

Queensland’s regions have praised the Australian Government’s commitment to threatened species, in the wake of the nation’s first summit focused on the issue.

Bandicoots, bettongs, numbats and malas, the regent honeyeater, orange-bellied parrots and bilbies are amongst 20 mammals and birds the Australian Government has committed to acting on protecting within five years.

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TSRA Land and Sea Unit scoops the pool at National Environment Awards

Media Release 10 October 2013

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) has won two of Australia’s most prestigious environmental awards including an award for an outstanding contribution to national sustainability.

The TSRA Environment Portfolio Member, Mr Willie Lui, was presented with the Banksia Indigenous Award and a Gold Banksia Award in Melbourne on Wednesday 9 October. Continue Reading…

BMRG Flood Recovery Program Rolling On

An $8 million On Farm Productivity and Riparian Flood Recovery Program being rolled out over the next two years via BMRG is well under way.

Jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian government, this program is helping primary producers to restore productivity and address major damage to waterways and floodplains following flooding in late January 2013 caused by Ex-Tropical cyclone Oswald.

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