Landcare, the institution

The Flood Creek Non-Nativist Landcare Group blog is a collaborative effort. We’re happy to publish your contributions as part of this Landcare Network discussion. See the collaborate-contribute page for a range of topic suggestions or get in touch to discuss your idea.

The following is a new post from a regular contributor to our discussion, known and loved by all for his participation which is provided under the carefully-crafted nom de plume of Robbo. A founding FCNNL member and general sustainability enthusiast with an interest in community education, soils, and grassroots energy generation (among many other things), scourge of the unthinking and expert diviner of the hidden-agenda, Robbo contributes widely throughout our local community. We are delighted to present his thoughtful contribution on Landcare and its local potential.

Landcare, the Institution.

“So what can I do? The answer I’ve arrived at myself is to think national, sure, but act local. I’m not going to depend on a grand master plan devised by someone else and put in place by someone else.” —Landcare Founder, Rick Farley, 1952-2006 (1)

Localism is gathering steam as a ‘guiding ethos’ for achieving sustainability in general. Food-Miles continues to highlight waste, efficiency, quality, equity and fairness under one heading. Localism is fundamental to caring for both the environment and all that inhabit the landscape.

Local initiatives are more likely to create the environment you would actually want to live in.

Given the introduction of Local Land Services in NSW it might be an appropriate time to reflect on the continuing role of Landcare as an institution.

Landcare could broaden its charter/mission from just ‘caring for the land’ to include championing the quality of rural life in general; particularly local self reliance and continuing opportunity for individual development, no matter the distance, and including Indigenous interests–see Rick Farley’s Ag Dreaming.

Rick Farley was a founder of the National Landcare movement. Pictured is his 2012 biography (2)

Local councils are no longer local, being increasingly located in regional centers if not provincial cities. Regionalism is more likely to suck the life out of small communities than provide for them.

Councils struggle to meet ‘traditional expectations’ of small rural towns let alone provide the depth of nuanced leadership necessary to capture particular opportunities ‘pertaining to place’.

Demographic change brings challenges like aging population but along with it, broader knowledge and experience.

What’s missing is a ‘development’ conduit that, first and foremost, reflects empathy with the landscape, is also cooperative in structure, and is not minority-issue based. An organization that builds in opportunity for personal development, beyond only inner operatives, and welcomes ‘minority reports’ in a manner promoting diversity!

Consensus is discovered not negotiated.



(1) Rick Farley quote from his address at the 2005 ‘Communities in Control’ conference, convened by Our Community and Centacare Catholic Family Services.

(2) Nicholas Brown and Susan Boden 2012, A Way Through: the life of Rick Farley, NewSouth Books.

10 responses to “Landcare, the institution

  1. Peter Marshall

    As a peasant ignorant of the wider institutional picture I will have to leave that to you deep thinkers .

    On a local level I offer these observations on the USLC and associated entities .

    – Ineffectual .
    Would like to see a third party assessment of acres restored , carbon sequestered and habitat hollows formed .
    Divided by dollars spent it would show incredibly low return for investment .

    -Negative educational value .
    Keen members are taught to plant trees into unprepared ground , select non endemic natives and destroy major ecostructures .
    These failed techniques then become received wisdom and are repeated mindlessly year after year .

    -Self validation and institutionalised excuse systems .
    They award certificates to each other and later use these as evidence of expertise .
    Reasonable request for more rigorous science treated with contempt .
    Failed projects are validated by reference to self awarded credentials .

    -Cronyism .
    Large amounts of money are dispersed by a tiny coterie though an opaque assessment process .

    -Genetic Pollution .

    -Lack of Monitoring of Projects
    Assessment procedure , project design , and implementation poorly documented , if at all .

    -Incredibly Low Knowledge Base
    Of on ground techniques ,soil science , soil physics , historical and current bioethnology , landscape reading , hydrodynamics , tool use , bioengineering , silviculture .

    -Internal , internecine conflict .

    -No Evident Mission Statement
    Beyond repetition of motherhood statements containing embedded ideological bias .

    -Careerism .

    -Failure to set up useful online presence and forums .

    -Greenwashing .
    Selective advertising on the part of influential members of the committee , claiming projects to be more ‘ sustainable ‘ than they really are .
    More on this issue later .

    Minister Hunt suggested that I engage with local NRM and report back my impressions .
    I have had held back from doing so until last night .
    A report is now on the way to the Minister , including a strong recommendation that the whole pack be defunded .


  2. Thank you for taking the time to respond PM, I’m on your case as to where you get it.
    Barry Jones says
    Today’s Australians are, by far, the best educated cohort in our history –- on paper, anyway -– but this is not reflected in the quality of our political discourse. We appear to be lacking in courage, judgement, capacity to analyse and even simple curiosity, except about immediate personal needs.
    Lifted from today’s The Conversation.

    Barry refers to quality of political discourse; Who cares, no one changes their mind as a result of parliamentary debates. Thumb screws are the currency. Our problem is we think leadership is about what ‘leaders’ think. That works for CEOs in banks and generals on the battle field; but such ‘tactics’ seldom address the participatory nature of grassroots society.

    Structure checks transparency. If outsiders look in and can’t see, they are either bloody stupid or not meant too. Landcare the institution in my mind refers to Landcare re-imagined; not simply extended.

  3. I think you should send that letter off to the land Peter!
    each 2 months they have a14 page advertorial promoting their stunted intellect add my name if you wish!!

  4. Andrew ,

    Thanks . Done .

    We hope for a visit by John Carter sometime soon .



  5. A few more thoughts. after time:
    What about an ECOLOGICAL FUTURES banner.
    Seemingly unable to differentiate itself from Local Land Services, Landcare is not taking a ‘lead institution’ role in addressing issues and interests in rural affairs that fall outside the strict remit of Local Land Services, NSW.
    In particular I’m talking about an ‘un-captured’ entity that embraces a range of initiative taking. See under a letter to the local paper that expands on this theme in local context.
    Community fault-lines are closer to the surface in rural communities, possibly bridged by mindful leadership, sometimes shifted by tactical advantage, but mostly abandoned to the three wise monkeys. There being no shortage of leadership aspirants either side of the divide. All credit to youth for growing-up…

    But a question exists, how do fault-lines impact, are they avoidable and would we want to change anything if we could.

    For instance, the outstanding presentation of Truffle Time combined Farmers Market at the Central School belies the fault-line seperating some sectors of local food production. Braidwood’s potential to diversify and enrich it’s economic and cultural base may be further advanced by closing that gap.

    A ‘fluid operator award’ on the truffle/market day would have to go to the boss of the school; dividing her time fairly between the ‘soil science lecture series’ and the throng of the market place; there in-lying the great divide. Perhaps a lecture series devoted to bridging the divide would be useful.

    Passionate and expert speakers engaged the audience and brought soil to life within the school lecture theater. Sadly, for only one side of the divide.
    Soil science in a vacuum may be how homesteaders see it!

    If Braidwood wants to shore up it’s economic and future well-being, adding a mix of job opportunities for students already in the pipeline, we will have to mature in the leadership stakes; embracing ‘a range of initiative taking styles’ and forgo gate-keeping that, as a tactic, only serves to filter useful substance.
    No one group or government sponsored agency has a monopoly on the answers because we don’t yet have all the questions.
    Looking beyond the local food economy, a substantial increase in sustainable yield will be required to feed the extra 2 billion stalks when they land.

  6. Or to put it simply .
    Braidwood was visited by the most respected Forest Mycologists in the world .
    They waived lecture fees , my family paid for their travel from US as a gift to the town .
    Lectures were carefully composed to emphasise the role of native fungi in native forests .
    Almost none of the Landcare / LLS / NRM luminaries of this region bothered to attend these world class lectures .
    The people who decide how gov funds are spent , the people who set themselves up as environmental paragons , the people who get the prizes and the press releases .
    They didn’t have the intellectual curiosity , or even the common courtesy to attend .
    Bloody disgraceful .


  7. up-with we have to put ?

  8. RE: South East Circular, August 2015…re landcare muster
    1:57 AM
    To: South East Local Land Services
    hello, thanks for the info. Yet again I find landcare wanting in the communication sector.

    “Small group discussions focussed on topics identified by the participants including: ‘getting new blood into landcare”,

    If Landcare is genuine about the former then I would suggest it might release more information about this session.

    I would respectfully suggest that ‘getting new blood’ requires ‘a change of old blood mindsets’
    Perhaps more open online discussion would further facilitate this matter.
    I will post this response to FloodCreek Non nativist Landcare site as an example of how simple this might work.

    Upper Shoalhaven is welcome to piggyback on this site while they consider the benefits. .

    Rob Woolley
    USLC member (unsure) .

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