Land plan ready for the region

11th Mar 2014

This article first appeared in the Inverell Times by Michèle Jedlicka

WHAT could be called a sustainability charter for the Inverell region and beyond is on the threshold of release by Wedgetail Landcare, a group of local individuals who are dedicated to improving and preserving the land and communities.

The plan is an inclusive roadmap for reaching a specific goal for farmers, urban communities and human health. 

If accepted, it could be integrated into council planning schemes for future development and shire management.

Glenn Morris, local producer and manager of Fig Tree Organic Farms, assisted with the plan development, with its roots stretching back more than five years when he was in conversation with the Inverell Shire Council.

Glenn implied there would be a 10- to 15-year development process before the effects were clearly visible, but he stressed it was vital to take action now.

“If we could put it into place and fix it in 12 months and everyone’s happy, they all go ‘Yeah, let’s do it’,” he said.

“But it’s going to take a time period, I sort of guess about 10 years if everyone got really busy, that you’d actually see an influence on the local water cycle.

“This is not a nice, cozy, warm-feeling thing I’m saying because it’s a nice thing to do. It’s an absolute necessity.”

Long an advocate for sustainable farming and living practices, Glenn said he realised the need for an adaptable plan for the future.

“It just hit me like a brick, really, that with all the institutions, professionals, organisations, universities and everyone that we’ve got working on all the major challenges, that we still don’t seem to be understanding the landscape and the environment around us and progressing that toward a positive, healthy future,” Glenn said.

“You determine the sort of future you want for your family and your farm and, if you like, the region and the nation; and everything is measured toward that goal, so if you’re not heading toward that goal, you’re not on the right track.”

He pointed to the current dry conditions as a bellwether for future sustainability issues.

“People can call it a natural drought, but it’s not a natural drought; it’s a breakdown in the water cycle which should be operating,” he said.

He explained that tied to the water cycle were soil moisture and vegetation.

 “This is an age-old message if you like, that if we don’t look after the soil then it won’t look after us. It’s a very old farmer’s saying,” Glenn said. 

 “The flip-side of the argument if you like is: how profitable are famers today? How many people are actually making money with the way the weather is right now?

“We can put a drought subsidy out there and put a few loaves of bread on the table, but if we want to fix this problem and get back to abundance; if we want to get back to productive land and big incomes coming from the land, then we need to fix the cycles that provide the water.”

The plan will be released within the next few days.