Conservation work lauded

Conservation work lauded


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Environmental award: Winner Josh Gilbert:  “My family has been farming the same land for 40,000 years and Aboriginal people like myself have a real connection with the land”, Photo: supplied.

Environmental award: Winner Josh Gilbert: “My family has been farming the same land for 40,000 years and Aboriginal people like myself have a real connection with the land”, Photo: supplied.

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Awarded the Young Conservationist of the Year, by the Australian Geographic Society, Joshua Gilbert proudly connects with the land his ancestors have farmed for 40,000 years on the NSW north coast.

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Debate over the effect on agricultural production caused by climate change continues, and up until last year, NSW Farmers Association policy called for a Royal Commission into the validity of climate change.

That policy of a powerful lobby group was changed in 2015 following a successful campaign led by Josh Gilbert, a young Worimi man from the Mid North Coast in his position as chair of the NSW Young Farmers Association.

“Farmers are on the frontline of climate change and our team at Young Farmers moved the policy position where members are proactive and lobbying governments for increased use of renewables,” Mr Gilbert said.

The vote changed the official position from being climate deniers to advocates for the fight against climate change, and it led to an invitation to Mr Gilbert from former USA vice-president Al Gore to take part in the world-wide Climate Reality Project, 24 Hours of Climate Reality, dedicated to continuing raising issues to preserve our natural environment.

We are drawing together green groups and agriculture to limit the effect of continued climate change. - Josh Gilbert

In recognition of those achievements, and his commitment to preserving his Indigenous heritage in respect to land management, Mr Gilbert has been noted as the Young Conservationist of the Year, by the Australian Geographic Society.

“I have always had a passionate interest in the bush, and started campaigning for environmental awareness and the need to change two years ago”, Mr Gilbert said.

“It has been very effective, as in the past two years we have created some of the first agricultural-based climate change policy in the world.

“We are drawing together green groups and agriculture to limit the effect of continued climate change.” 

In his current capacity as senior consultant with PwC Indigenous Consulting, Mr Gilbert is working in three main areas – the environment, agriculture and Indigenous affairs.

“Most of my work revolves bringing all three together to create a purposeful change in those critical areas,” he said.

“It is rewarding and I get to meet some incredible people.”

Indigenous wisdom for future on the land

Proud of his heritage, Joshua Gilbert is working towards lifting awareness of the Indigenous people’s connection with their environment, and how contemporary society might benefit.

Everyday, he is able to see the benefits of creating an aesthetically pleasing as well as sustainable environment for agricultural production. 

Besides his position as a consultant with PwC, Mr Gilbert  farms 16ha in partnership with his family on which they breed 25 stud Braford cows, near Nabiac in the traditional Worimi country bounded by the European towns of Gloucester, Forster and south to Newcastle.

Mr Gilbert said his fulfilling passion is for sustainable agriculture to fit in with the natural environment, rather than competing against it. 

“This means listening to the land, truly connecting with it and working with the natural cultural and environmental aspects to farm sustainably so that future generations can farm the same land today,” he said..

“My family has been farming the same land for 40,000 years and Aboriginal people like myself have a real connection with the land. .

“It is a really good personal connection and I really love getting up there when I can to feel the spirit and share and learn Indigenous knowledge. 

“It is vital that we learn, share and understand the wisdom from farming this land for so long before us.”

For Mr Gilbert it was very important for him and his family to understand generations will continue farming this country for 40,000 years into the future.

“We can make informed decisions now to take advantage of the accumulated Indigenous knowledge so we will continue to be a viable society into the future”, he said.

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