More than 60 people were in Northam on Thursday to hear about the new-look natural resource management group Wheatbelt NRM.
Formerly the Avon Catchment Council, Wheatbelt NRM outlined several key changes at its annual general meeting, designed to allow more community participation.
This has included a change to the board, with three new members.
• Sue Middleton who runs a rural development consultancy from her family farm in the Wheatbelt community of Wongan Hills
• Peter Weatherly, a business owner from Northam and the driving force behind the Avon Valley Environmental Society.
• Wendy Dymond is employed at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA in Northam and is a seasonal academic at Curtin University.
The program managers for Wheatbelt NRM highlighted some of their achievements over the last five years including $36 million invested into natural resource management, indigenous programs, sustainable agriculture and environmental research in the Avon River basin.
The Wheatbelt NRM’s Natarsha Woods said the group was now on track through the Federal Government’s Caring for our Country program to invest a further $3.2 million.
“About 25 per cent of this will go on biodiversity projects while sustainable agriculture will receive nearly 40 per cent of the funds,” Natarsha Woods said.
After the annual general meeting a forum was held bringing together speakers to discuss hot topics in natural resource management.
The acting director general for the Department of Regional Development and Lands Paul Rosier was the key speaker.
He spoke about natural resource management projects that have been funded by the State government’s Royalties for Regions program.
Paul Rosier also encouraged Wheatbelt NRM to apply for more funds from the Royalties for Region program, which was administered through the Wheatbelt Development Commission.
Guest speaker Professor Ed Barrett Lennard from the University of WA and Department of Agriculture and Food WA shared the latest research on different species of Old Man salt bush.
He said they had discovered a clear winner when it came to nutritional performance and work was being done to produce this premium plant to farmers.
“In addition with the approximate cost of $150 a hectare for direct seeding salt bush compared to about $500 for seedlings, improvements in direct seeding for revegetation would be good news for the Wheatbelt,” Ed Barrett Lennard.
He said work was also being done on building a harvester for oil mallees.