Above: Heather Mitchell and Joan Kirner at Winjallok celebrating the 10th anniversary of Landcare.
In 1986 a collection of farm tree groups and early Landcare groups formally incorporated as the Victorian Land Management and Farm Tree Group Incorporated. By 1992 this had grown to 100 member groups. Now, 30 years later, the Farm Tree and Landcare Association supports over 600 groups.
At our recent annual general meeting more than 75 FTLA members discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead for the next 30 years of Landcare.
The points discussed included the positive aspects of an ageing population – more retirees with a lifetime of wisdom and experience will have more time to volunteer with Landcare. Longer life spans mean we need to concentrate on being active and healthy. An increased pressure on resources could drive innovation and efficiency.
Greater numbers of small landholders will provide an opportunity for Landcare to share knowledge and make connections, while larger commercial farms involving a single landholder could have a bigger impact, enabling more complex, large-scale projects.
Improvements in technology will assist with monitoring and mapping, enabling smaller groups to have a bigger impact. Getting involved with climate change adaptation (surveying the impacts of climate-related species movements and assisting with crisis recovery) was also seen as an opportunity, as was carbon farming.
Participants were enthusiastic about these new opportunities, while acknowledging the importance of Landcare continuing to work on its core issues of rabbits, weeds, revegetation, soils and waterways. More than 5800 people joined FTLA member groups over the last three years, and 91 new groups joined the FTLA. The next 30 years of Landcare are looking good!