From the Chair’s desk…
Is this the last ALI newsletter?
It may well be as our next newsletter will hopefully be from Global Landcare! We have been working hard to progress this and are very excited about the prospect of changing over from Australian Landcare International to Global Landcare at the next Annual General Meeting.
Our meetings with Landcare International and the Secretariat of International Landcare have supported the merger and our team has been working on the necessary governance arrangements for this to happen. The merger will involve changes to the ALI Constitution, new logos and more with a very inclusive, global perspective. I am so pleased that there has been the fantastic support from across the globe.
In the meantime, Landcare International members and others are encouraged to become members of Australian Landcare International (ALI) as this membership list will transfer to Global Landcare. All ALI members will be able to vote on the formation of Global Landcare. You can become a member for free at: https://alci.com.au/membership-form/
Save the Date! Our AGM is coming up soon.
The AGM for Australian Landcare International Incorporated will be held via zoom on October, 23 2020, 4.00 pm AEST (6.00pm New Zealand and 10.00 am Nairobi)
At ALI, we wish you all the best and hope to see you at the AGM, Andrea Mason.
Overseas Landcare Program
The ALI Fund
Currently, the ALI Fund has sufficient resources to support 5-6 projects, each around $AUD 500. We will go back to our waiting list of projects to evaluate them for funding. We anticipate launching a new round of funding in 2021 based on donations. In the meantime overseas groups are welcome to submit proposals of this scale in the usual manner.
We are very grateful to the members who have made donations recently. We welcome feedback as to whether donors should be acknowledged in our newsletters.
For a decade ALI has worked closely with SPELJ, the Secretariat for Promoting Landcare in Japan, including numerous visits by Japanese students and academics, the 2017 Landcare joint conference in Nagoya, publications and support for students at Australian institutions. Professor Michael Seigel’s sad death in 2019 set back the progressive plans we’d made together. However, his Indonesian successor, Professor Steve Mere, will keep Michael’s memory alive, try to reach his goals, and use Landcare as an ethical tool for social progress, justice and reconciliation.
Of course, Australia differs so much from Japan, with its monocultural urbanised population, deeply held traditions and long established institutions. Introducing Landcare was always going to be difficult. Michael contended however that Japan’s major lesson from Australia should be our flair for networking, using IT, PR and events to draw in hundreds of people into discussion, planning and collective action for a better environment.
In 2019, ALI won a grant of $18 000 from the Australia-Japan Foundation for an agroforestry exchange late this year to Honshu to swap ideas on land management. Last February, I visited Japan to do the legwork, just before CV-19 changed everything.
Firstly, this involved a few days planning in Nagoya with Professor Kazuki Kagohashi. We visited a forestry co-operative at Shinshiro, managing 150 or so small privately owned forests ranging from .1 (ouch!) – 10 hectares – the latter sized estate is very rare. Most people have inherited their forests and don’t really want them. Timber prices have flattened; rates and taxes are high and unwelcome. But good contractors are on hand, and the district’s annual cut an impressive 80 000 cubic metres. Mapping is difficult, I think because of mediaeval boundaries. They prune sometimes – with knives or small saws.
Nearby in a sunny high valley, a steep track led to a warm welcome at a three-hectare organic farm dedicated to regenerative agriculture and community education on soil health and biodiversity. From time to time volunteers (like our ‘Woofers’) help Mr Matsuzawa, 73, whose cottage is 300 years old.
He harvests rice from tiny unploughed paddies. There were both timber trees (cedar and zelkova) and fruit trees, including apples, nashi, persimmons, grapefruit and oranges, and numerous small plots of vegetables, especially giant radishes – daikon (chook food). Indeed there were some 350 edible crops in all, many of which are weeds – herbs and shrubs with edible components. Mr Matsuzawa also raises beautiful poultry. Wild pigs were a problem but he said the very dense root zones of his pasture defied the pigs’ rooting capacities. Monkeys are a nuisance elsewhere, but apparently not here.
Then I travelled to Toyama on the west coast to meet planning staff from that very progressive city where fingers of farmland and forest extend well into the suburbs. I also visited two rural sites: a Landcare project and a 15 hectare private forest.
The former felt pleasingly familiar: I told the Kintaro Club volunteers it was just like being at Westgate Park, Melbourne. For 20 years this retirees group, which has just won a Toyama citizenship award, has worked on a three hectare clearing on a west-facing forested ridge. The major weed is Chinese bamboo, which is really common in the southern half of Japan. They have controlled it and replanted the site with indigenous trees, shrubs and understorey. The council supplies a chipping crew from time to time. Deer and pigs are challenging. I especially liked the group’s ‘bug beds’, rectangles of bamboo staves holding back piles of rotting chipped bamboo positioned for insects to feed on, breed in and use shelter. Other great features: shitake and other mushrooms grew widely, and many tits flitted through the scrub.
The forest comprised Japanese cedar, or sugi, up to 25 metres high, with logging under way via a mobile high-lead (winch) system. The timber was felled, hauled up the very steep slope, and roughly sorted into sawlogs (two grades) and biomass (chips, pulpwood, compressed fuel?) on a roadside. I couldn’t detect any attempt to improve quality by pruning.
Sitting at my desk, re-reading my diaries, many warm memories return of this fascinating country and its rugged mountains, jam-packed coastal plains and icy seas.
Investigating the potential of international Landcare
How the Australia Landcare model has evolved in different country contexts has been explored in a recent study, with the final report now available online.
Supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the study explored the Landcare approach across six countries to determine how sustainable agricultural land management contributes to development outcomes; including food security and poverty reduction, better management of natural resources and climate, gender equity and empowerment of women and girls.
Led by RMIT University Research Fellow Dr Mary Johnson, and partnering with Clinton Muller, the applied research project investigated the lessons and common factors for success based on the different models of Landcare in countries where the approach has been introduced. The focus countries included Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
The final report describes how Landcare has been adapted under the different country level contexts and identifies five commonalities or preconditions for Landcare, namely:
- Clear Purpose
- Leaders/champions and facilitators
- Strategic Partnership
- Collaborative Learning
The report also explores the constraints that have impeded the uptake of Landcare, including:
- Sustained resource base
- Ability to scale
- Political instability
- Lack of community participation and ownership
The final report, available here, provides useful insights that inform and support on-going international Landcare efforts, as well as the opportunities for the role of Landcare in the context of agricultural research for development.
News from across the globe
Kenya and the EverGreening Alliance
The EverGreening Alliance tells us:
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and project implementation grinds to a halt, there has never been a better time to discuss, plan, and build partnerships for an equitable and sustainable recovery for the planet. Land restoration, reforestation, and habitat conservation are essential if we are to minimize the risk of future pandemics and the current climate crisis and, for this, there needs to be a far greater focus on cooperation. The Alliance stands strong in its mission to bring people together to build meaningful partnerships. Only together, can we preserve what’s left and restore what’s lost. Every hectare of the way.”
EverGreening is joined by many others in making a difference. They warn that this is not always easy to achieve and good planning is necessary. Telling stories about successes is one way to help. See https://www.evergreening.org/resources
One example is the story of Irene Ojuok at https://www.evergreening.org/regreening-hearts-and-minds/
Pictured – Kenyan Farm Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) champion Ojuok and EverGreening Senior Fellow Dr Alan Channer tell the story.
Today, as World Vision’s ‘Environment and Climate Change Advisor’ in Kenya, Ojuok provides technical support to multiple projects and initiatives, notably the six-country ‘Regreening Africa’ programme, funded by the European Union and overseen by her fellow Kenyan, Dr Susan Chomba of the World Agroforestry Centre/ICRAF.
The ‘PEPY Empowering Youth’ project in Cambodia (https://www.pepyempoweringyouth.org/) received a small grant from ALI in 2019. With the money they were able to build a section of land that could withstand the annual flooding. They planted morning glory, tomatoes and long beans that grew very well but then the pandemic started worldwide. Soon the schools were ordered to close and students were banned to come to school. They could not water their crops. As a result, the crops died. However, the land was raised already so they can start again next year.
Ugandan President’s Speech
This was widely reported but especially in BranaPress at http://www.branapress.com/2020/04/21/god-has-a-lot-of-work-to-do-he-isnt-here-to-look-after-idiots-president-museveni-warns-ugandans/
In the Ugandan President’s address to his nation, KAGUTA MUSEVENI warns against people misbehaving during this COVID-19 period, “God has a lot of work, He has the whole world to look after. He cannot just be here in Uganda looking after idiots…”.
Below are extracts from his reported statement.
“In a war situation, nobody asks anyone to stay indoors. “You stay indoors by choice”. In fact, if you have a basement, you hide there for as long as hostilities persist.
During a war, you don’t …
“The world is currently in a state of war. A war without guns and bullets. A war without human soldiers. A war without borders. A war without cease-fire agreements. A war without a war room. A war without sacred zones.
The army in this war is without mercy. It is without any milk of human kindness. It is indiscriminate – it has no respect for children, women, or places of worship. This army is not interested in spoils of war. It has no intention of regime change. It is not concerned about the rich mineral resources underneath the earth. It is not even interested in religious, ethnic or ideological hegemony. Its ambition has nothing to do with racial superiority. It is an invisible, fleetfooted, and ruthlessly effective army. …
Thankfully, this army has a weakness and it can be defeated. It only requires our collective action, discipline and forbearance. COVID-19 cannot survive social and physical distancing. It only thrives when you confront it. It loves to be confronted. It capitulates in the face of collective social and physical distancing. It bows before good personal hygiene. It is helpless when you take your destiny in your own hands by keeping them sanitized as often as possible.
…. Let’s be our brothers’ keeper. In no time, we shall regain our freedom, enterprise and socializing.
In the midst of EMERGENCY, we practice urgency of service and the urgency of love for others. God bless us all.”
Grayson LandCare, Virginia, USA
Our good friend Jerry Moles has played a key role in the establishment of Grayson LandCare. Since 2008 it has adopted the member driven model to promote the triple bottom line of economy, environment and community. Projects led by the membership include the Free Market, Independence Farmers Market, the Grayson County Permaculture group and Land Stewardship contest, among other initiatives. Monthly presentations featuring topics of local interest are always open to the public.
Their latest newsletter is available if you click here
You may find this article interesting: “Inside Ethiopia’s Endangered Wild-Coffee Forests” (Jeff Koehler June 15, 2020) describes the demise of Arabica’s birthplace would be a catastrophe for the industry.
Jeff Koehler’s photo of an Ethiopian collector picking coffee from a wild Arabica tree in the Mankira Forest, Kafa.
The author provides a wondeful image of the forests with wild coffee growing:
These coffee forests, in Ethiopia’s Kafa region, some 300 miles southwest of Addis Ababa, are the heart of coffee’s birthplace, and one of the few places where it still exists in the wild. Growing spontaneously under the canopy of trees, forest coffee is neither cultivated nor maintained, and a complex system of ancestral entitlements regulates who can gather the coffee berries when they ripen in autumn.While these fruits look similar to their cultivated cousins, the trees themselves appear different. Ferns, colorful epiphytic orchids, and leafy climbers wrap around the tall, slender trees that reach up towards the available light. Bearded festoons of silvery-green moss hang from their slender branches. Leaves are sparse, and coffee fruits few. With most of their energy going into simply surviving, they grow slow and produce just enough for the species to continue.
But the survival of the coffee is precarious:
Today, wild Arabica’s greatest threat is climate change. Highly sensitive, it can only survive within a narrow band of conditions. Aaron Davis, a senior research leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the world’s foremost authority of coffee and climate change, has forecasted that the places where wild coffee can grow will decrease by 65 percent by 2080. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case showed a 99.7 percent reduction, with wild Arabica tree populations dropping by 40 to 99 percent.
See https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/where-is-coffee-from for the full article.
Another article of interest: 28/07/2020 in Eco-Business at https://www.eco-business.com/
Neo Chai Chin reported:
“Pet chow companies that make dog and cat food from insects such as black soldier fly larvae are looking to gain a foothold in Asia. At least two European start-ups are venturing into Asia, and a Singapore-headquartered firm that operates in Malaysia is looking to launch Southeast Asia’s first insect-based dog food in the fourth quarter of this year. …
Insect protein incurs a much lower carbon footprint than beef, chicken or salmon as the six-legged creatures largely feed on low-grade food waste, grow quickly and do not need much space to be farmed. Animal agriculture is a significant generator of greenhouse gases and source of deforestation.”
And Tim Ha reported: “The coming decade could see Vietnam shelve nearly half of its currently planned coal power plant capacity as alternative sources of energy take up growing shares in its power mix, the government-affiliated research body tasked with drawing up the nation’s next power sector roadmap has said.”
VALE Tony Flude from Rob Youl
We are very sad to tell you that Tony Flude died peacefully last week after a long illness. Tony was well known for his two decades as a leader/organiser/worker with Friends of Westgate Park – now called Westgate Biodiversity: Bili Nursery. During that period, the group re-created 45 hectares of bushland on Parks Victoria land between Todd Road and the Yarra River at Fishermans Bend. The reserve comprises nine indigenous ecosystems of the Melbourne region.
He made scores of friends, and mastered the art of corporate fund-raising, from the outset working closely with Landcare Australia to run events and host numerous works teams. The group won LA’s National Urban Landcare Award in 2010.
Besides being a Port Phillip EcoCentre stalwart, Tony was a keen member of Australian Landcare International and a generous donor to the ALI Fund. We will miss him greatly – he was an outstanding comrade and conservationist.
National Landcare Conference, Sydney another change of date to 4 – 6 August 2021
The National Landcare Conference Steering Committee (members are made up of representatives of the Australian Government, the National Landcare Network, Landcare NSW, LLS and Landcare Australia) have agreed to postpone the 2021 National Landcare Conference date to mid-2021 to ensure they can provide individuals, organisations and groups involved in Landcare, the best possible opportunity to attend the event in person.
The next conference will now be held during 2021 Landcare Week – Wednesday 4 to Friday 6 August, 2021.
Landcare is about connections made and shared learning experience, and the National Landcare Conferences are ‘people conferences’. There are multiple events planned as part of the conference including the National Landcare Awards Gala Dinner and the National Landcare Youth Summit. A full day Field Trip program will shine a light on the diversity of Landcare projects in Sydney and the surrounding areas, including the impact on the environment, sustainable agriculture activities and local communities.
The Committee received 162 outstanding abstracts. In the lead up to the conference in August, 2021 they will host monthly conference webinars to showcase and promote the organisations and individuals who have submitted an abstract.
Australian Younger Landcarers
The following was offered to help everyone for Landcare week. It helps us understand our role with respect to the land. It was published in The Intrepid Landcare newsletter (https://mailchi.mp/d95468702359/a-connection-away-landcareweek-2020?e=a696a895b5).
A connection away
(words by Worimi man Josh Gilbert)
This landscape is precious, a beating heart for connection to the surrounds. A place to relate and a definer of futures, a constant in this journey of life.
She holds the understanding to tomorrow, storing opportunity through each patch. She is forgiving, mindful of the past and optimistic for the future.
This land is scarred by the truth, traumatised by horror that was committed and holding secrets never to be told. It is the keeper of the concepts of agriculture over time, ripped apart, left to scorch in the sun’s rays and pounded by hooves.
Yet it keeps balance and structure, forever timely and built with a memory.
She is forgiving, healing minds and the past. It is little wonder that cores of soil can now distinguish the time the tall ships came, when finally told through Black eyes.
It’s no surprise that the landscape keeps these memories, holding them dear and transparent of better management. Black lines of firestick farming, captured in the oldest records under foot.
She is comforted by them Old People, who breathe life back into her core, connecting over mutual feelings. But deep down this patience is enshrined in hope yet to be realised. Hope that the wrongs will dance from within the landscape for a chance to heal.
This landscape of home is more than what is defined in a glance. It is a keeper of ceremonies, that cries in the hurtful trauma of the past and of new beginnings.
She shares the benefits of our culture, somehow just a connection away.
Landcare offers a connection away. Happy #LandcareWeek 2020.
Thank you to everyone who is involved in creating what Intrepid Landcare is, and can be!
Josh Gilbert, a Worimi man, is a founding Board member of Intrepid Landcare and a scholar of Indigenous Agriculture from Charles Sturt University.
Australian Bushfire Recovery
A webinar that was offered by Landcarer, presented by Chris Cobern and recorded and can now be viewed.
Recovering after bushfires – what role can Landcare play?
You can view the recording here: https://www.landcarer.com.au/recovering-after-bushfires-webinar/
Some useful links that Chris mentioned during the webinar can be found here:
• Focus on Fauna blog: https://focusonfauna.com/
• UGLN Reveg Guide: https://www.landcarevic.org.au/assets/Uploads/UGLN-revegetation-guide.pdf
• UGLN Fire Recovery posts: http://ugln.net/category/fire-recovery/
Australian Junior Landcare has activities for kids
A great example is “Growing healthy plants using natural pesticides” at https://juniorlandcare.org.au/learning_activity/growing-healthy-plants-using-natural-pesticides/ This activity is designed for 7 – 13 year-olds and suitable for use anywhere.
There is an overview of the activity, a list of expected learning outcomes, information, activity sheets, potential ingredients, tips and more.
There are many such resources available for teachers at https://juniorlandcare.org.au/learningcentre/
The World’s First Japanese/English Composting System?
The Caulfield Primary School in Melbourne Australia is a bi-lingual Government school. They have used a small grant to make a very special composting system for their school. They have documented the work in a charming video that can be used to show any school how to do a similar project. See https://drive.google.com/file/d/19u69nqp00gT3zjqA2um6ovDrD5Rn5hUZ/view