Queensland’s peak agriculture industry bodies, natural resource management organisations, and environmental advocates have formed a working alliance to pool their resources and experiences in support of landholders and sustainable land management.
The new Land Management Alliance (LMA) said they welcomed the biodiversity-carbon pilot trials announced earlier this month as a stepping-stone for the development and implementation of a more broadly based certification system embedded in every-day land management and taking this step was the next logical building block in that process.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said his organisation, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), Australian Land Management Group (ALMG), Southern Queensland Landscapes, and the Lock the Gate Alliance together bring a sustainability approach that considers every aspect of land management.
“Our new LMA has endorsed ten key principles for the design and operation of a stewardship certification system – with particular focus on landholder participation and the credibility of the certification,” Mr Guerin said.
“We want to engage landholders in a broad-based, meaningful way via a stewardship system that is outcome rather than practice based and reward them for well-managed landscapes.”
Australian Land Management Group CEO Tony Gleeson said he believed stewardship should be embedded in on-going land management and deliver continuous improvement across the economic, environmental, and social spectrums.
“What we’re proposing is a voluntary, whole-of-farm, landscape linked certification system that isn’t restricted to particular ecological features such as biodiversity, or water quality, or whatever,” Mr Gleeson said.
“A system that is operated by an independent entity outside of government and industry, and whose standards and certification are provided on an open, competitive basis by accredited trainers and auditors.”
QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said the LMA was sending a clear message to policy makers that most landholders are focussed on sustainable and profitable production, while looking after the environment and natural assets.
“Many landholders have made significant progress to proactively change their existing land management practices, but some need help making the transition,” Dr Davis said.
“By investing in capacity building through extension and education programs we’ll help landholders understand regenerative farming, as well as discover ways to profit through conservation.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Co-ordinator Rick Humphries said it was important that any stewardship program thoroughly addressed the complete range of environmental impacts relevant to an individual landholder’s situation.
“If stewardship programs only focus on specific, narrow issues, they will by definition only attract a relatively small number of landholders,” Mr Humphries said.
“That’s not to say specific issues such as biodiversity and soil carbon cannot be rolled into a comprehensive system – they can – but if we want to maximize the number of landholders involved in such a scheme it must be able to handle a much broader range of environmental impacts in order to increase productivity and profitability.”
Southern Queensland Landscapes Chief Executive Paul McDonald supported those claims by stating that the work done by NRM organisations so far had not reached enough landholders.
“For around 20 years, NRM groups have worked with landholders to help them balance profitable production and environmental needs; however, this work has reached less than 20 per cent of land managers,” Mr McDonald said.
“If we’re going to make a greater impact, we need to work with the other 80 per cent and consider new ideas and approaches that can become the next steps on the journey for landholders.”
Design Principles for a Land Stewardship Certification System
Principle 1. Stewardship system(s) should positively influence the on-going management decisions of land managers.
Principle 2. Stewardship system(s) should provide support for continuous improvement in environmental outcomes.
Principle 3. Stewardship system(s) should be nationally applicable.
Principle 4. Stewardship system(s) should have ecological integrity.
Principle 5. Stewardship system(s)should have spatial integrity.
Principle 6. Stewardship system(s) should have a positive benefit-cost ratio.
Principle 7. Stewardship system(s) should be able to encompass multiple credence factors.
Principle 8. Stewardship system(s) should be credible for all parties.
Principle 9. Stewardship system(s) should be nationally and internationally recognised.
Principle 10. Stewardship system(s) should be sufficiently flexible to deliver on varying additional requirements of governments, industry, and community partners.