New Zealand Landcare Trust Conference 2012

ALI Reps reflect on New Zealand Landcare Trust Conference 2012

Mal Brown and Darren Williams

Victorians Mal Brown from North Central CMA and Darren Williams from West Gippsland CMA were awarded ALI Landcare Fellowships to attend the Conference.

It was a pleasure being offered the chance to attend the 2012 New Zealand Landcare Trust’s National Landcare Conference as travel fellows sponsored and supported by Australian Landcare International (ALI).

The conference was packed full of passionate and compelling presentations, an excellent pre-conference tour and a very enjoyable Landcare Awards evening.

During the three days of the Conference, many friendships were formed and inspirational speakers were listened to with some great practical tips shared to ensure Landcare’s future remains alive and vibrant, with a mutual obligation to continue the dialogue and collaboration ‘across the ditch’ being the key conference outcome.

Some of the key messages we took away from the Conference include:

1. Indigenous participation in Landcare

We were impressed by the level of Maori participation in Landcare and also the way many of the non-Maori speakers addressed the conference using Maori language.  Maori language appears well integrated into New Zealand’s contemporary society.

There appeared a very strong integration and collaboration between the Landcare Trust and Indigenous communities than we presently observe here in Australia.

2. The Trust

We were intrigued by the composition and structure of the New Zealand Landcare Trust and its role in the national coordination of Landcare activities.

The Trust is comprised of representatives (Trustee’s) from a range of New Zealand’s peak organisations with an interest in New Zealand’s land and water management.  Although these organisations at times might have differing opinions and objectives, the Landcare Trust clearly provides a shared platform of respected dialogue and consultation.

The critical role the Landcare facilitators and coordinators play in the delivery of Landcare projects was also very evident in New Zealand.  It was tremendous to witness the trusted relationships that the Trust staff has with their communities on display throughout the Conference.  It was also interesting to observe the close link between the Trust itself as a national body and the direct engagement and contact it has with individual landholders in the delivery of projects.

In Australia we observe a far more regionally and locally devolved delivery model of Landcare projects where facilitators/coordinators are likely to be employed by Landcare Groups, Networks or Catchment Management Authorities and Landcare projects typically being brokered and delivered by local Landcare Groups and Networks.   In New Zealand, it is principally the Landcare Trust as a national body that employs Landcare staff, and delivers Landcare projects. A very different model to what we experience here in Australia.

3. Regional Bodies

Another clear difference between Australia and New Zealand is the roles and responsibilities of the regional NRM bodies.  In Victorian we have our Catchment Management Authorities with primary carriage of Natural Resource Management (NRM), including the health of waterways, flood management and community participation in NRM.

In New Zealand, their eleven ‘Regional Councils’ are primarily responsible for environmental management, including water, contaminant discharge and coastal management, but also have responsibilities for regional transport and harbours, bio-security or pest management.  These Regional councils also have carriage for the enforcement of environment protection laws.  The complementary territorial authorities are similar to Australia’s Government agencies.

In New Zealand, property rates are used to fund both regional and territorial government activities. In Australia, only local governments have a rate base. Catchment Management Authorities rely on funding from State and Commonwealth governments.

4. Landcare Projects

Management of invasive pest animals and their impact on New Zealand’s biodiversity is a common New Zealand Landcare topic as was the management of nutrients and the adverse impact being experienced in many of New Zealand’s magnificent waterways.