Sustainability Profitability And Australian Landcare
The landcare movement in Australia has contributed towards a significant change in environmental awareness, and understanding of the immediate and real issues that face landholders. Consequently, many are now questioning the very farming systems that they implement and are keenly aware of the fragility of the environment around them.
The long-term future for Australia’s agriculture depends on linking environmental management with sound commercial food and fibre production. Sustainable and profitable farm systems are the key to achieving this future. The farming community is faced with increasing calls for the farming community to be more sustainable. Unfortunately, while most farmers accept this, they do not have access to regional indicators for the measurement of sustainability.
Therefore, there is an immediate need to develop further some of the work that has been completed nationally into regional models, where farmers reliably adapt the sustainability indicators to on farm applications. To achieve this, national leadership and cooperation between government, industry and research organisations is required.
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are receiving close scrutiny as a means of measuring the impact of a business on the environment. There are many perceived advantages of EMS. These include achieving market access, protection and enhancement of the environment, provision of better management information, and providing a positive image for agriculture. Equally, the farming community is wary of yet more administration and bureaucracy, and would like to be convinced of the positive cost benefits from EMS before embracing EMS as a concept.
In comparison to many overseas countries, Australian agriculture is relatively unregulated in an environmental sense. The need to address the challenging question of sustainability, and the potential of EMS as a tool of measurement, provide grounds for strong debate within the country. There is no question that Australia must establish credible systems that are profitable and sustainable. To achieve this, both national leadership and a commitment from the farming community are required.
Author(s): Polkinghorne, Lachlan
Organizations(s): National Landcare Facilitator Project, Geelong, Victoria