Leigh Whisson - Regional Landcare Facilitator

2 April 2014

Wheatbelt land care receives new face and funding Leigh Whisson has worn many hats over the past two decades, many of them focusing on the health of native wildlife and fauna in the WA Wheatbelt.

The new regional land care facilitator for natural resource management group Wheatbelt NRM has begun the new role, designed to help landholders improve soil and ecosystem health.

The Australian government has funded the position for the next two years, with an emphasis on helping farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices and continue investment in the environment, such as tree planting.

“This has obviously become really hard to do, because the difficult seasons have resulted in cut backs in spending on land care,” Leigh Whisson said.

“Usually, when there is a lack of money, one of the first things to go is the non essentials like tree planting and the adoption of different cropping practices, because of the perceived risk.

“That’s why this position is so important, because there is support out there for landholders to continue this type of work.”

Leigh Whisson is well equipped for the role, after spending time on different conservation projects in the Wheatbelt. One of his first jobs after graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia was trying to save the then threatened Western mouse or Pseudomys occidentalis in the central Wheatbelt.

“I spent more than three years monitoring populations and trying to control feral cats and foxes, which are their main predators, around a number of important populations, and I visited numerous nature reserves in the central Wheatbelt,” Leigh Whisson said.

“The Western mouse is one of the native species that indicate the health of the environment, and we know if they are present, the vegetation is in reasonable condition.

“I’m pleased to say they are now off the threatened species list.” Other career highlights included working on a 68,000 hectare Australian Bush Heritage owned property on the edge of the Wheatbelt, north of Wubin. Mr Whisson spent more than two years working on feral animal control (including wild dogs, foxes, cats and goats) and weeds and water management. He also spent time on the Department of Parks and Wildlife owned properties Doolgunna and Moologool stations, rehabilitating creek lines and controlling overland flow to stem erosion and land degredation.

His latest position has him working out of the Northam Wheatbelt NRM office.

“My role is to connect people to researchers, scientists and other land managers and help with grant opportunities,” Leigh Whisson said.

“We need to work to make a more sustainable farming community.” Already help is available through the Soil Nutrient Health grant, to help farmers investigate the health of their soils including tests for soil microbes, water repellency and salinity.

For more information contact Leigh Whisson on 9670 3100 or lwhisson@wheatbeltnrm.org.au