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At the forefront with industry

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Community Engagement

Wheatbelt NRM attended a very positive and solution-focused Grower Group Alliance Bi-annual Forum for members and stakeholders. A range of expert speakers emphasised the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and agriculture’s role in aligning with these goals, including discussion of the 9 planetary boundaries (ecological thresholds) and the key role of forests in sustainability.

Opening speaker Dr Hanabeth Luke from Southern Cross University shared the positive message that, “Farmers have the ability to pass on a healthy environment to future generations… but that people do not always listen to the best science, and land management is all about people”.

It was noted that ‘sustainability’ itself was not enough, full restoration may not always be possible, and that ‘regenerative’ land management was required. Natural Capital Accounting was featured, with leading AAAC consultant Richard Brake courageously exploring the topic of integrating a broader set of biological and ecological ‘assets’ into farm accounts.

Due consideration was given to what may happen to market access, finance, and social licence if we don’t make the change. Richard highlighted that the majority of farm businesses do perform fairly well environmentally but we need to learn to tell the story by measuring and accounting for our natural capital and demonstrating continual improvement. A key take-home message was that whilst sustainability goals are clear, we often lack the internal capacity to make the changes. Like other industry sectors, Agriculture is in a transition phase, but can emerge with a bright future once change is embraced.

Zoë Arden from Cambridge University, UK, highlighted the need for cross-sector divergent thinking, using ‘differences’ as an asset and developing multiple solutions to a problem, namely:

  • Clarify your purpose (intent)
  • Grow your curiosity - ask questions without bias and genuinely consider other perspectives
  • Get comfortable with uncertainty, complexity and feeling unsafe - learn creative abrasion
  • Cultivate self-awareness
  • Create an enabling culture, make it comfortable to ask challenging questions
  • Have the conversations - consider who is at your Board table
  • Build resilience, of both place and practise The 4 leadership principles of staying connected, collaborative partnerships, creativity, and courage were highlighted.

Wheatbelt NRM, alongside scientists and government, are committed to working together with growers to find solutions, ensure integrity, and forge a brighter future. Please contact our staff and visit Wheatbelt NRM’s Dowerin Field Days marquee at site 66 for a chat about Carbon and Natural Capital accounts and your support requirements in navigating a way forward to measure and demonstrate environmental stewardship.

Carla Swift, Business Development Manager

M: 0499 800 379