Soil Conservation Service (SCS) delivers environmental projects including erosion control, water management.
We are extending our reach into new fields such as contaminated land and infrastructure management.
What plans does Soil Con have for initiatives or expansion in rural and regional NSW?
We are committed to growing regional teams and providing greater efficiency and service to our regional clients and diversifying our client base.
Partnerships with Local Land Services regions are an increasing measure of success for SCS as we strive to achieve results for local landholders.
An example of this is the installation of numerous infrastructure and maintenance projects on travelling stock reserves in the Riverina Local Land Services region.
What do you see as being the major environmental challenges facing farmers and people in rural and regional areas today?
Australia has always had a very dynamic climate that makes farming particularly difficult.
I think this is still the most concerning challenge for farmers.
Our already dynamic climate is becoming more and more unpredictable.
How do you think this issue can be tackled?
I think that fresh ideas and methods will play a big role in being adaptive to climatic issues.
More farms are diversifying their produce to protect them from irregular climate.
Education and fresh ideas in regards to what crops can be more efficient, appropriate and effective for the land rather than what has been traditionally practiced.
What other issues do you see as being major challenges for people in rural and regional NSW?
I think the biggest issue in rural and regional NSW is access to mental health services and greater support in the community to remove any associated stigma with mental health.
There is evidence of links between mental illness and prolonged drought as well as other adverse environmental factors.
I think too many people in rural communities just accept that that’s just the way it is and always has been, without seeking, or not having access to, help before it’s too late.
Early support is not the only thing these rural and regional areas require.
They are in dire need of suicide prevention mechanisms – according to the NSW Mental Health Commission, people in country Australia complete suicide at 1.2 to 2.4 times the rate of city dwellers.
How do you think these issues can be tackled?
In the past mental health has not been the kind of thing you talk about in rural areas.
A lot of work is being done to foster connectivity between people in rural and regional communities and encourage discussion on these key issues.
Grass roots support networks are extremely effective as they are generally free or low cost.
Lack of funding and the correct expertise are still needed within these networks.
What are government or industry bodies like Local Land Services and/or SCS doing to attract investment in remote, rural and regional areas?
Fresh ideas and methods will play a big role in being adaptive to climatic issues. More farms are diversifying produce to protect from irregular climate. Education and fresh ideas in regards to what crops can be more efficient, appropriate and effective for the land.
Regional and rural areas are becoming a lot savvier with marketing the advantages of their locale.
They are creating campaigns and events to bring people to rural areas.
These bring in dollars from outside the community as well as boosting morale and fostering a sense of pride in the local area.
Bodies such as Local Land Services can assist by using their network to help communicate with landholders and bring people together.
A great example of this was the recent fifth South Coast Industry dinner organised by South East Local Land Services.
The dinner brought together a range of local primary producers and provided an opportunity to hear about their challenges and stories whilst celebrating their produce and identifying solutions to some of their issues.
What else would you like to see government or industry bodies doing to attract investment in remote, rural and regional areas?
More support and funding for rural communities to develop grass roots solutions to solve their own problems.
One-size-fits-all solutions are far less effective in rural communities, which are often extremely diverse.
The strength of regional and rural areas is their communities and if knowledge and expertise can be harnessed by government and/or industry, to provide solutions to their problems, there is little chance of failure.