Saturday, February 26, 2011

Land management change urgently needed in Australia

Colin Bettles in Stock & Land (Australia): An urgent imperative exists to change how the Australian landscape is managed, for food security and climate change reasons, especially farmland, according to former Governor General, Major General Michael Jeffery. But in that transition, farmers must be viewed not only as food growers but as the primary custodians of the Australian landscape and “rewarded accordingly”.

Major Jeffery outlined his thoughts on agriculture’s critical importance to climate change adaptation, during the opening address of a high level land use forum organised by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, in Canberra last week. Major Jeffery said the challenges confronting Australia in dealing with a changing climate, land degradation, food and water security and the needs of increasing global populations were “unprecedented”.

In casting that warning, he said governments needed to take the issue far more seriously by handing the responsibility for managing the various interlocking tasks attached to a positive and sustainable outcome, to the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Premiers or their equivalents.

“Water is fundamental to life but it can only do its job properly through the aegis of healthy soils,” he said. “If we save our soil we save our planet. The common thread is carbon and its key role in building soil health and thus naturally regulating the water cycle through the photosynthetic and evapotranspiration action of trees, plants and a regenerated soil structure. But to do this, effective and coordinated change is essential now….”

George Elvery on a tractor in Toowoomba, around 1927

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