Work with farmers, instead of using them

Farmers continue to carry environmental cost


Locking trees up without the ability to manage them doesn't help the environment, or farmers - and current, ignorant legislation devalues trees in our landscapes.


As Mungindi farmer Rob Houston's case makes its way to the Federal Court, it once again highlights the pressures farmers are under as they are increasingly used as scapegoats, or as an easy, soft target, for bigger problems.

Think water use, animal activism, native vegetation, and greenhouse gas emissions. These are just some of issues in which farmers have been unfairly blamed.

So as you could imagine, the line below caught our eye when it dropped into the editor's inbox recently.

"Farmers may be the greatest hope to reverse 'national shame'."

It was in a brief from the Australian Geographic which included a short explanation of how 300 environmental experts were calling for stronger laws to restrict clearing of stands of native trees - the 'national shame', of course, being clearing.

In the same briefing, it also said: "A landmark new study has found a new farming model that involves maintaining woodlands and biodiversity - and known as regenerative grazing - is delivering better results."

The purpose was to encourage journalists to arrange an interview about the regenerative grazing study, which is good, because it means increased exposure to agriculture.

However, the progress in joining the dots between good land management and the legislation that governs such activities, is painfully slow.

As is the understanding of a balanced landscape that includes agriculture and biodiversity and the difficulties encountered when hitting piles of legislation, including some lesser known pieces such as E-zones (which are actually far more restrictive than the native vegetation regulations).

Because of the nature of the laws, and the way they demonise trees from an economic and land management perspective, it not only makes it hard to get the correct balance between cropping, grasslands and woodlands, but also devalues the trees as what would otherwise be a useful tool in managing biodiversity - instead, in many regions they're a pest that devalues your land and makes management difficult, all because of the various pieces of legislation.

Until people like those 300 "environmental experts" learn what this means, then it is going to continue to be a difficult discussion and one that also continues to hamper beneficial outcomes for both agriculture and the environment, including in systems such as regenerative farming.


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