Category Archives: Small Farms Network

“NSW farmers stepping up tree felling even before land-clearing laws loosened”

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June, reports on the the likely terrible impacts of the NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislation; the article is here.

The NSW Nature ConservationCouncil, of which FuturePLANS is a member, has initiated an advocacy campaign to protect native vegetation in NSW. This is the  Stand Up For Nature campaign.    You are invited to visit the campaign website to familiarise yourself with the issues and to consider engaging in advocacy to protect biodiversity in our region. Remember, submissions close on 28 June.

The SMH wrote: “The state’s farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further, government data shows.

“The new figures, which reveal the rate of clearing of paddock trees has more than doubled since November 2014, come as the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote to all MPs to call for a reversal of “retrograde changes” planned in the new Biodiversity Conservation act.

“NSW farmers used a new self-assessment code to remove 21,716 paddock trees – or more than 50 a day – over the past year and a half.

“The rate, at an average of about 50 per day, was 140 per cent more than the average over the previous seven years, data from the Office of Environment and Heritage showed. Paddock trees, judged to be single or small patches of trees, make up 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover, OEH says.”

See the full article for more details.

What #Action4theLand will your local councillor take?

FromLandcare Australia:

With over 5,300 registered Landcare groups across the nation, even the smallest of actions from a single Landcare group can add together – across the Landcare movement – to make a large difference.

As part of our World Environment Day 2016 activities, Landcare Australia will be running a fundraising and environmental awareness initiative, where we ask every individual, business, government agency, politician and media outlet we engage with across the nation “What positive #Action4theLand will you take?”

It is our hope that the #Action4theLand campaign can create a groundswell of awareness, and accompanying activity – where every dollar collected through our fundraising efforts will make a difference, by supporting Landcare groups and projects across Australia.

We’re reaching out across our network to encourage each and every one of you to start a positive #Action4theLand conversation. Over the next few months, get out there and ask your friends, family, colleagues, and local representatives, “What #Action4theLand will you take?”

In particular, we encourage you to reach out to your local councillors, and state and federal elected representatives to invite them to join your Landcare group for a day to see the positive #Action4theLand you have taken in your local community.

LLS’ ‘South East Circular’, April 2016 issue

The April 2016 issue of the South East Local Land Service’s newsletter South East Circular has now been published. The topics covered are:

Improving worm control in sheep
Local disease watch
Autumn feeding guide
New wasps in the Bega Valley
Recognition for District Vet
Thinking of purchasing a property in the bush?
Grazing management courses start soon
Do you know the size of your paddocks?
From the garden to the plate
Landcare Australia field visit
Innovative partership tackles marine pest
Partnership protects endangered perch
LLS Seasonal Conditions Report
Feral Fighters 2016
Weather and Climate Risk Management
Local Annual Report 2015
The benefits of electronic identification in cattle
Narooma littoral rainforest field day
South Coast Industry Dinner 2016

Report on the Native Vegetation of the Palerang Local Government Area

At its Ordinary Meeting to be held in Bungendore on Thu 24 March, Palerang Council will consider the ‘Report on the Native Vegetation of the Palerang Local Government Area, November 2015, prepared by Umwelt Australia’. The proposal is: Recommended that Council:
1.        Exhibit the draft revised Palerang native vegetation layer via Council’s Intramaps software from mid April 2016 to mid June 2016.
2.        Hold an information session in Braidwood and Bungendore to discuss the revised native vegetation layer.

For details, please visit – this topic is agenda item 11.7.

Small Farms Network – Capital Region Field Day

Field Day – Fodder Trees and Shrubs in Grazing Systems

The Small Farms Network – Capital Region is hosting a free field day on “Fodder Trees and Shrubs in Grazing Systems”

Sunday 17 April 2016 from 8.30-3.30 pm.

Come along to a property in Bywong (address provided on Booking) to learn about the possibilities of incorporating native trees and shrubs into grazing systems.

Guest Speakers:

  • Dr Dean Revell, lead researcher in the Future Farm Industries CRC Enrich Perennial Forage Shrubs project and owner of Revell Science,
  • Matthew Lieschke, South East Local Land Services, and
  • Geoff Butler from Geary’s Gap Landcare.

Online Bookings Essential via Eventbrite

For further information please check out the Small Farms Network website OR email us at

Managing Your Land for the Future – Resilience and Adaptation for Climate Change – a two-day forum Fri 18 & Sat 19 March

This two-day forum includes some terrific speakers, such as :

  • Dr Mark Stafford Smith, Science Director with CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship – will speak about some of the climate impacts already being observed on the Southern Tablelands and the Monaro, and five key elements in adapting to climate change.
  • Richard Taylor, Chair of Monaro Farming Systems group who will speak about they formed and how they are helping  farm businesses to be more profitable and resilient in the long term on the Monaro
  • Phil Graham from Yass Department of Primary Industries will speak on managing livestock under changing conditions
  • Agribusiness consultant Michelle Jacobs will speak about the business side of managing climate change risks.There are lots of other speakers including Alison Elvin from Natural Capital who will speak on managing native grasses, Donna Hazel from South East Local Land Services on managing wetlands and Professor David Freudenberger from ANU who will speak on biodiversity winners and losers as the climate changes.

    There will also be a  field trips to different parts of the catchment in the afternoon of both days to learn about ‘whole-of-paddock’ rehabilitation (Gunning) and looking after your River Paddocks (Sutton).

    When: Friday 18 & Saturday 19 March 2016, 9.00am – 4.00pm

    Where: Day 1 – Murrumbateman Recreation Hall, Barton Highway, NSW. Day 2 – Jerrabomberra Community Centre, Queanbeyan, NSW. Buses will be provided from there for field trips.

    Cost: $50 for two days, fully inclusive. ($30 for one day)

    For details go to:

    Anna van Dugteren
    Anna van Dugteren | Natural Resource Management Facilitator
    Phone: +61 2 62052914 | Mobile: 0455299657 | Email:
    NRM Programs|Environment and Planning |ACT Government
    Dame Pattie Menzies House, Challis Street Dickson | GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601

Identification of animals and plants is an essential skill set

A recent article in The Conversation by Susan Lawler, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution at La Trobe University, explores the importance of students of biological and related sciences developing skills in identifying animals and plants.

Her article commences:
‘I have recently been made abundantly aware of the lack of field skills among biology students, even those who major in ecology. By field skills we mean the ability to identify plants and animals, to recognise invasive species and to observe the impact of processes such as fire on the landscape.

‘My colleague Mike Clarke calls it “ecological illiteracy”, and identifies it as a risk for nature at large. While people spend more times indoors in front of screens, we become less aware of the birds, plants and bugs in our backyards and neighbourhoods. This leads to an alienation of humans from nature that is harmful to our health, our planet and our spirit.

‘On a more practical, academic level, I was in a meeting this week where an industry representative complained that biology graduates are no longer able to identify common plants and animals. This limits their employment prospects and hampers the capacity of society to respond to changes in natural ecosystems predicted by climate change.’

Well worth reading in full.

‘Genius community grants – it’s the process that counts’

Les Robinson’s approach to enabling social change, ‘Changeology’,  including his book by that name, and his Changeology blog, are  fantastic resources for members and friends of FuturePLANS.

His 15 February blog post is titled Genius community grants – it’s the process that counts.

He explains that ‘Most councils and government agencies have community grants programs.
‘And most of those programs kill innovation.
‘Why? Because the typical applicant is so desperate to be funded they try to second guess what the agency is looking for by packing the grant application full of buzz words extracted from the agency’s documentation, and what got funded last year, rather than gamely having a go with imaginative ideas. There is simply no incentive for innovation in the conventional grant process, and plenty of fear of being knocked back for being too radical.
‘And because the application form is usually completed 5 minutes to midnight before the close-off date by a tired group president or secretary, there is simply no way that much deep or original thought goes into most project plans.’

He then discusses how our South East Local Land Services (SELLS) ‘is being innovative, having fun, creating love, and transforming community Landcare projects, by innovating the conventional Landcare grant process’.

His description of how well the SELLS is operating is here.

Well worth a read.  And emulating and building upon it.

‘Field day’: Oxford’s Word of the Month for February

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at The Australian National University, and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia.

February’s Word of the month is ‘Field day’, details are here. The definition of the term is given as ‘(in rural areas) a day set aside for the display and demonstration of new machinery and farming equipment; a day organised for the discussion of specific agricultural problems, innovations, and techniques’.

They advise that ‘Field days  in Australia began in the 1890s as an educational service for farmers. The early evidence for  field day suggests that the first one occurred in Wagga Wagga in 1894’. The article goes on to describe the subtle shifts in meanings that have occurred up to the present. Recommended reading!


Registration of Interest: Farm Skills Courses

The Small Farms Network Capital Region is seeking expressions of interest from people who would be interested in attending a one day PROfarm course on any of these topics in the Capital region in 2016. The courses would be offered free of charge but we need to have at least 10 people willing to attend a course before we can apply for funding.

Register your interest this week by emailing Jennie Curtis to nominate which of the following courses you are interested in:

The newly formed Small Farms Network Capital Region is a grassroots information service for people who own or manage small to medium sized rural properties around our local area. The network aims to share local knowledge as well as tapping into professional advice about all things farming through field days, paddock walks and other  events.

Two field days coming from the Small Farms Network in 2016 are Grazing with fodder shrubs (17 April in Bywong) and Healthy Land, Healthy Horses (date and location to be advised).

Please get in touch with Jennie CurtisSmall Farms Network – Capital Region