Above Clinton Muller from ALI (second from right) meets with the Ikamiro Community Landcare Group in Kabale, Uganda.
Australian Landcare International (ALI) was formed in 2008 by several experienced Victorian Landcarers keen to catalyse and support overseas natural resource management projects.
The community group has around 70 members. It seeks to work in partnership with other organisations to promote Landcare principles and to provide opportunities for Australian Landcarers to work overseas on short and medium-term projects.
Partner organisations have included the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, The Crawford Fund, Secretariat for International Landcare, Bank Australia, the Australian Agroforestry Foundation, Landcare Victoria Inc., the Japan-Australia Foundation, CSIRO and the Port Phillip EcoCentre, among many others.
ALI operates a fund that has supported more than 50 small Landcare projects in 19 countries. It has also helped to run training programs in Tonga, Fiji, Uganda, New Zealand, Malawi, Zambia, Jamaica, and St Kitts and Nevis. Many of these projects are run in collaboration with Australian Landcare groups and networks.
Deputy Chair Rob Youl is one of ALI’s founding members. According to Rob the group has achieved a great deal and provided its members with a lot of satisfaction.
“Back in 2008 we recognised that Landcare had spread to 15–20 countries but there were opportunities for it to go much further. ALI is a small organisation, but we are flexible and courageous – operating well outside our home base. Our resources are modest, so partners are essential for us to make progress,” Rob said.
Rob sees ALI members as Landcare diplomats.
“We are not targeting specific natural resource issues in other countries, but trying to distill and adapt the Australian Landcare experience to overseas situations so that people can help themselves.”
ALI’s projects have included promoting regional soil and water conservation; assisting villages of smallholders facing soil, water and biodiversity challenges who are looking for extra income; promoting agroforestry and wildlife corridors; helping to find ways of sequestering carbon; supporting junior Landcare activities; and helping communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters.
Examples of ALI’s commitment to training include trips to Zambia in 2016 and Uganda in 2018 to assist in running courses on broadening smallholder enterprises through better logistics, new crops and marketing, and major project development. ALI found experienced Landcare specialists from Victoria and Western Australia who volunteered their time to go to Africa and raised funds to cover their expenses.
The challenges for ALI members are many – they are often working in remote areas with limited technology. Many members fund their own travel and continue to fundraise to support the overseas projects once they return home. A partnership with Bank Australia is very valuable as it helps with the complexity of sending money overseas.
ALI organised the first international Landcare conference outside of Australia, held in Nagoya, Japan, in 2017. The group also hosts international Landcare visitors to Australia and provides links to local groups and projects. For an organisation staffed entirely by volunteers ALI has made an impressive mark on Landcare around the globe.
Australian Landcare International will represent Victoria at the 2020 National Landcare Award in the Partnerships for Landcare Award category.