PANEL TOPICS & SPEAKERS
Landcare Farming Panel
Successful farming in Australia now requires significantly greater expertise across many topic areas than in the recent past. The challenges imposed by climate change and extreme seasonal variation, in conjunction with new market opportunities that reward good management of natural assets for production of food/fibre, means that farmers now require access to a wide range of timely, reliable and independent information. Local landcare groups and networks have historically been at the forefront of providing or coordinating delivery of valued information to their communities. However, the information marketplace is now much more crowded and there are many organisations and players disseminating information for farmers related to good farming practices, conservation and natural resource management. This panel will explore the role of landcare as a provider of valued farming information, its strengths, weaknesses and areas to focus on in future.
Andrew Stewart manages the family grazing property “Yan Yan Gurt West Farm” with his wife, Jill. The 230 hectare farm is located in the north eastern foothills of the Otway Ranges in southern Victoria and has been farmed by the Stewart family for five generations. The main production is prime lambs and wool with a focus on landcare including agroforestry.
Over 50,000 trees and shrubs have been established throughout the past 30 years constituting 18% of the farm area. This has formed a diverse and connected multi-purpose biological infrastructure that supports and enhances traditional agricultural production, whilst providing new opportunities emerging from the agroforestry system. Farm tours and educational programs are part of the farm business and more than 5,000 people have participated.
Andrew coordinates the Otway Agroforestry Network and is a founding member of the Australian Agroforestry Foundation. He has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, a Graduate Diploma in Education and a Graduate Certificate of Forest Science (Farm Forestry).
The Stewart Family received the AFG-Stihl Victorian Treefarmer of the Year Award in the year 2000. Andrew has been a recipient of the Norman Wettenhall Landscape Restoration Fellowship and has served on the Australian Landcare Council. In 2021 Andrew won the Bob Hawke Landcare Award.
Director, Regional Connections Pty Ltd
Mark grew up on the family mixed farming property in the Mid North of South Australia and has a passion for seeing research outcomes and innovations applied on farm. Throughout his career, Mark has worked in regional farming communities across South Australia and nationally in agricultural research, development and extension. He has led numerous industry and government funded extension projects aimed at increasing the sustainability and profitability of farming businesses.
Mark was involved in the development of the National TOPCROP program in the late 1980’s early 1990’s, funded by the GRDC. He has also provided leadership in the emergence of farmer led farming systems organisations across SA. These organisations drive local validation and extension of research innovations, and have been key to filling the gap left with the exit of state government from the provision of regional extension services in the 1990’s. Mark jointly led the establishment of Ag Excellence Alliance in 2007, providing a coordination, networking and support role to the 19 farming systems groups across SA. He worked as the State Landcare Coordinator in the early 2000’s, was on the GRDC Southern Panel from 2014 to 2018, and spent five years as the Deputy Regional Manager of the Eyre Peninsula NRM Board.
In 2012 Mark established Regional Connections, a project development and management business based out of Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. Mark has been a significant player in the climate change space, having led an innovative Carbon Farming Initiative Outreach and Extension project with farm consultants from across south-eastern Australia from 2014 to 2017. This project culminated in receiving the inaugural Premier’s SA Climate Leaders Award in 2018.
James Walker is the founder and managing director of Agrihive, a collaborative organisation established to ‘Tackle Crisis Points In Agriculture And Generate Actionable Ideas’, and a fifth-generation farmer from Longreach, Queensland, who is passionate about Australian family farms and improving financial performance through tailored initiatives.
Coupled with extensive agribusiness training through industry courses (Grazing for profit, KLR Marketing, Sheep for Profit, Nutrition and others) James has also conducted formal training (Diploma Business – Real Estate Management, Diploma in Agribusiness, Diploma Farm Management and a Nuffield International Scholarship).
In 2014 and 2015, he staged three summits – the Outback CEO Summit in Longreach, followed by the Dairy UK CEO Business Summit at Westminster and the CEO Business Summit at Queensland Parliament – to attract new ideas from outside agriculture to help solve key issues facing the industry. Afterwards, a case study was developed by the Australia Farm Institute and Accounting Firms challenging farmers with the ideas brought forward by industry.
Following the summits, James was asked to speak at Oxford on disrupting farming through innovative thinking and technology and was awarded a project to build an AG-tech financial tool for farmers incorporating production, finance, environment and weather and climate metrics. Through instruction from the Prime Minister’s office, and working with the Department of Agriculture and Meat and Livestock Australia, James developed Farmecco: an easy-to-use app that captures all the financial elements of an enterprise and creates two reports – one as a communication piece and the second as bank-ready documents – in under an hour. The system has been described as ‘the vehicle for financial transformation for the beef industry’.
Together with his wife and three children, James also runs Camden Park Station, which he has had organically accredited, and has completed a large 15 MW solar farm to stimulate the local economy and attract more income for the farm.
Charlie Prell is a sheep farmer from Crookwell, an hour north of Canberra in the Southern Tablelands of NSW. He is one of four farmers under the Crookwell 2 windfarm. He has had more than 20 years of experience in renewables, focusing on wind farms. He is a strong public supporter of the benefits wind and solar farms can bring to small regional communities. He is a passionate advocate for an inclusive “benefit sharing” model for renewable energy developments, where the whole community benefits from the infrastructure, not just the few who host it. He worked as the NSW Regional Organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance (now the RE-Alliance) for 5 years from July 2014 until August 2019.
He was part of the working group and then the steering committee that formed Farmers for Climate Action. He was previously co-chair and deputy chair of Farmers for Climate Action. He has been Chair of Farmers for Climate Action since October 2020. He is passionate about the health and well-being of small regional communities and assisting these communities to meet the challenge of climate change. He also promotes the opportunities that meeting these challenges can bring to individual farmers and the small regional communities where they live.
Nat Sommerville has been a ‘landcarer’ all her life. Currently living and working on Ngadjuri Country in South Australia’s Mid North Nat is a farmer, grazier, mother, mentor and a proud Torres Strait Islander woman from the clan Wagadagam of Mabuyag Island.
Driven by her passion of sustainable agriculture, the environment and social justice, Natalie’s focus is on influencing positive change in rural Australian landscapes and communities and seeing greater innovation, inclusion of gender and age, and respect for diverse backgrounds. She is passionate about sharing her farming, cultural and social knowledge and experiences to improve outcomes for both current and future generations.
Nat chaired the mostly farmer based Yacka moorundie Landcare Group for several years before stepping onto the state based Landcare Association of South Australia as a committee member providing agricultural knowledge and experience to discussions and decisions.
When Nat is not farming she is mentoring Aboriginal students in local schools and assisting educators to deliver respectful First Nations histories, perspectives and cultural content in lesson plans.
During her spare time Nat volunteers on community and industry boards at local, state and national levels include President of Australian Women in Agriculture, SA Ag Excellence Alliance, other South Australian Agricultural industry committees and the local NAIDOC committee just to name a few.
Cultural Land Management Panel
For many years, the landcare movement has recognised the importance of Traditional Knowledge and expressed a strong desire to learn from Traditional Custodians. In recent years, cultural burning has generated strong interest in the wider community as a valuable tool to protect and restore the ecological condition of natural areas in many locations across Australia, with support to build capacity in local communities. However, there is a wide range of other cultural practices that are also of social and ecological significance, but not as well recognised nor widely adopted. Traditional Custodians were the first landcarers, and this panel will consider how landcare more broadly can learn to respectfully and effectively integrate Traditional Knowledge into managing natural areas, and work more closely with Traditional Custodians.
Liz Davis has a background in Ecological Agriculture and has been working as a Regional Ag Landcare Facilitator in the Central Tablelands and Central West of NSW for over 15 years. Liz has a passion for working with our natural systems and creating awareness on how to create, protect and diversify to benefit the agro-ecological systems: fungi, beneficial insects, dung beetle, biodiversity plantings and natural inputs.
Liz has had the privilege of working in collaboration with Aboriginal communities across two regions in NSW on programs such as Aboriginal Culture Awareness for Landcare Co-ordinators, Youth Empowerment Programs, and the primary school resource ‘Tools, Totems & Tucker.’
Ricky Archer is a Djungan man from the Western Tablelands region of North Queensland. Ricky has a strong network of on-ground land and sea managers across northern Australia from which to draw from and has demonstrated an ability to connect on-ground work of Indigenous organisations with regional, state and commonwealth priorities.
In his current role, Ricky is the Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA). He is involved with numerous organisations and committees enabling strategic input across a diverse field. These include:
- CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) – Board Director
- North Commonwealth Marine Park – Board Member
- NT Aboriginal Land Management Advisory Group – Chairperson
- National Feral Pig Action Plan Implementation Committee – Chairperson
- National Forestry Stewardship Council, Indigenous Working Group – Member
- Indigenous Innovation Alliance – Member
- Landcare Australia Board – Board Director.
Previous engagements include Australian Committee IUCN (Executive Member), Minister for Environment, Indigenous Advisory Committee (Member), National Landcare Advisory Committee (Member), Commonwealth Environmental Biosecurity Advisory Group (Member).
Ricky has a background in geographical information systems, Indigenous knowledge management, and natural & cultural resource management. He is passionate about the advancement and improvement of Indigenous livelihoods across the north.
Suzanne Thompson is very proud of her ancestral bloodlines, and brimming with knowledge of her culture, Australian history, and innovative ways to share her passions with others in a respectful and contemporary way.
With 20 years working in both the government and community sectors Suzanne found herself following in her cultural footsteps as a pioneer for social and economic empowerment, trade, and indigenous self-determination.
She is Founder and Managing Director of Yambangku Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Tourism Development Aboriginal Corporation (YACHATDAC) which manages a 22,000 Acre Property in Outback Central Western Queensland. She is now redefining the very idea of social enterprise and appropriate cultural trading methods that will ensure a safe and transparent economic future for indigenous people.
Suzanne also volunteers her time as the Chair of the Australian Native Foods and Botanicals (ANFAB) National Peak body and is working directly to secure indigenous interests and rights in this rapidly expanding global marketplace.
She has just been appointed as indigenous advisor to the Tourism & Events Queensland board (TEQ), and interim secretary for the newly formed Queensland First Nations Tourism Council, the peak body for First Nations Tourism in Queensland.
She is currently fostering support and investment for nature-based economies, including Indigenous Land Management, Carbon Farming and First Foods & Medicines, and the recognition, protection, and renumeration of indigenous intellectual knowledge by industry.
Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician, and a traditional knowledge consultant for land and community wellbeing. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka people from North Queensland. Much of Victor’s work is based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values, particularly Aboriginal fire management, with Aboriginal communities and non-Indigenous Australians. He is the co-founder of the Firesticks Alliance which involves a large community network across Australia. Victor holds an Honorary Doctor of Science through James Cook University. He is the author of the book, “Fire Country”, and the children’s book, “Looking After Country With Fire.” Through his artistic label Mulong, Victor has published music tracks and videos such as Great Land, and Cool Burning.
Landcare Back to the Future
Over the last four decades, there have been many hundreds of thousands of active volunteer landcarers, with their legacy clearly seen throughout Australia. We have much to learn from their extensive landcare experience, and from the people who bring fresh perspectives into the movement. The panellists will consider the key lessons from their involvement in landcare to inform current and future landcare practice, and future challenges for the movement, including how the movement integrates volunteers and those seeking professional career pathways in community led natural resource management (NRM). The panel will also address the important question “if we didn’t have the legacy of landcare, what would Australia look like now….?”
Prof. Andrew Campbell FTSE, FAICD
Andrew Campbell is the Chief Executive of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2016.
Among influential roles in sustainable agriculture and research management in Australia for over thirty years, Andrew Campbell was Australia’s first National Landcare Facilitator, and was CEO of Land & Water Australia for seven years from 2000.
He is Patron of Landcare in Victoria, succeeding the late Joan Kirner in 2015.
Professor Campbell is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy for Technology and Engineering, a Professorial Fellow at the ANU Fenner School, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute for Company Directors. He represents Australia on the System Council of the CGIAR.
He is a Councillor, ACT Division in the Institute for Public Administration Australia and a Director on the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust.
Andrew Campbell has written widely on landcare, sustainability and the science-policy interface. He trained in forestry at the University of Melbourne, then in agricultural knowledge systems at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. Andrew Campbell is still involved in landcare work on his farm in south-eastern Australia, where his family has been farming since the 1860s.
Megan Lee has volunteered and worked with various local, state, national and international Landcare organisations in a range of roles and capacities since 2007. Specialising in youth and community engagement, community development, leadership and personal development, Megan has also been writing and facilitating programs that have inspired meaningful participation in environmental conservation for over a decade.
In recognition of her work in engaging and supporting youth to participate in local environmental action, Megan received the National Young Landcare Leadership Award in 2012. Megan then went on to inspire the work of Intrepid Landcare, a national organisation that aims to empower the next generation of Landcarers,
Megan is most passionate about community resilience and healing, and sees the importance of connection on many levels when it comes to interacting with the natural world and each other. She is particularly interested in authentic and meaningful collaborations, and the importance of intergenerational connection in shaping the way we understand, manage and care for the environment into the future.
Pam Robinson is a member of and co-founder of the Warrenbayne-Boho Land Protection Group Inc, a leading and early Landcare group in Victoria. Based on community collaboration, embracing inclusion of all age groups and new members, the Group’s name covers two adjoining areas in NE Victoria, working on a catchment basis.
A former Shire President in Vic, Pam was on the first National and Victorian Landcare Advisory Committees. Holding positions on State and Regional Environmental Panels and Committees over many years, Pam was Manager of Climate Change and Environment on NT Councils 2007-2015 and is a member of Global Landcare.
Between 2014-2017, amongst other ‘hands-on’ Landcare contributions, Pam was one of the twelve professional Australian Women who presented the “Monster Climate Petition”, with 72,000 signatures from across Australia, to the Australian Government and Opposition; was the ‘Face of Landcare’ for Landcare Australia Limited “Defenders of The Earth” fundraising campaign and completed three years as a Member of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility End Users Committee.
Pam sees Landcare as a never-ending story, one which embraces new members, diversity of cultures, thinking and age range in its membership. Response to climate change imperatives needs to be incorporated into Landcare and Coastcare projects, and responsible bipartisan approaches by Governments to support their committed on-ground community volunteers is required.
Dja Dja Wurrung Country
Growing up in the bush land around Castlemaine, Tess developed a keen interest in the natural environment, particularly birdlife and river environments. Tess studied a BA Nature Tourism and Outdoor Environmental Education at La Trobe University and in 2012, she returned to Melbourne University to complete a Graduate Certificate of River Health Management.
Tess was the recipient of the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award at the 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards, in recognition of her passion to create more visibility for rural women and young leaders. Her other professional areas of interest include community engagement, environmental interpretation, communication resource development and storytelling science.
Tess has worked in varying roles at North Central CMA since 2010 and is currently the Regional Landcare Coordinator. For a little over a decade Tess has worked across river and wetland restoration projects, strategy development and protecting past NRM investment specialising in community engagement.
Emerging Environmental Markets
Environmental markets are emerging as an important opportunity to encourage and reward good land management practices. The most mature market supports the production and transaction of carbon credits, however support for biodiversity, restoration of natural resources and protecting native habitat is gaining prominence with consumers and corporate business globally. There is a need for credible and impartial information for the landcare movement about emerging markets including carbon, and how landcare can or should be involved. This panel will explore practical considerations for participation in the carbon market and other environmental initiatives such as land stewardship. It will consider opportunities, risks, potential revenue streams, and the co-benefits, including increased productivity.
Dr Shane Norrish Landcare Australia CEO
Dr Shane Norrish is chief executive officer of Landcare Australia, a national not-for profit that works in partnership with multiple stakeholders to support the landcare community with funding and capacity building for on-ground projects.
Shane commenced with Landcare Australia in 2007 in the role of Landcare Farming Manager. Since then he has managed Landcare Australia’s Landcare Farming program, significant revegetation biodiversity projects, and partnerships focused on the agriculture and land management sectors.
Major projects include the Durness Borland Landcare Corridor at Tea Gardens NSW, Living Landscapes at Bundanon NSW, Conservation Reserve in Victoria’s Wimmera and Landcare Australia’s role as a Service Provider for the Australia Government Green Army and 20Million Trees programs.
During his career, Shane has worked across a wide range of agricultural industries with a key objective of supporting projects that integrate natural resource management and conservation with improved productivity.
Prior to working for Landcare Australia, Shane’s agronomic research background focused on interactions between soil properties, crop nutrition and seasonal rainfall variability. He has a strong history of participatory on-farm research working closely with farmers and their advisors. The majority of his work on dryland cropping and sugarcane projects addressed the interface between productivity, resource management and environmental issues.
Shane has also worked on an Australia aid project in India addressing food security, natural resource assessment, and monitoring and evaluation of alternative crop sequences.
He holds a PhD in crop agronomy from the University of Western Sydney.
In April 2018, Shane was appointed CEO of Landcare Australia. In this role his vision is to substantially grow the strength of Landcare community groups and networks, and establish Landcare as the preferred delivery partner for all stakeholders.
Shane likes to start his day surfing on Sydney’s northern beaches to get the blood flowing and to delay spending time in Sydney traffic.