Mayor calls for visionary economic stimulus for large-scale rural land restoration

Council to request specific and significant funding for Regenerative Landscape Management

Tuesday 15 September, 2020

Council has supported a motion calling on State and Federal governments to provide a COVID economic stimulus to restore rural lands through Regenerative Landscape Management.

Mayor of Tweed, Councillor Katie Milne, said that Australia was suffering from extreme droughts, bushfires, floods and water scarcity, and that a visionary approach was imperative.

"We simply cannot carry on with business as usual. We have a unique opportunity to make transformational change to address not only the COVID disaster but also the natural disasters that Australia is facing with the increasing effects of climate change," she said.

"Australia is experiencing multiple disasters and unless significant change happens this will continue and only get much worse. We can't expect people to keep coping. We have to make our rural lands and waterways much healthier and more resilient to these effects."

Regenerative Landscape Management encompasses a range of techniques to promote sustainable land management practices by improving the capacity of soils to absorb and retain moisture thereby reducing the impacts of floods, droughts and bushfires as well as enhancing town water supplies.

"Only 12 per cent of rainfall in the Tweed reaches our waterways with more than 50 per cent lost to evaporation. Through a Regenerative Landscape Management funding stream we could support projects on a much greater scale, assist landholders to become more viable and attract a younger generation of farmers back to the land," Cr Milne said.

Cr Milne said a stimulus program of this nature had the potential to deliver multiple benefits to the Tweed and the nation while stimulating the local economy and creating thousands of new jobs right now.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportune time to kick-start Australia on a transformative path to building back better and reconnecting our communities to the land," she said.

"Regenerative Landscape Management is taking place in the Tweed, through Council's sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and waterways programs but funds are limited and this is about scaling activity up."

A recent Southern Cross University survey of 200 farmland-rated properties in the Tweed found the availability of financial resources is a major limiting factor preventing farmers from improving the health of their farms.

"We know landholders are keen to make transformational change to their farming practices but need significant financial and technical support to do so. Young people also are keen to assist with this change but at the moment there are too few job opportunities in this area," Cr Milne said.

Cr Milne has gained support for the proposal from NSW Regional Cities Mayors and the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation is also supportive. 

Cr Milne will now write to local Federal and State members, and the Federal and NSW governments, to request significant funding be made available for Regenerative Landscape Management as an economic stimulus to be administered at local government level.

The motion was supported at the Council meeting on Thursday 20 August 2020. To view the agenda and minutes, visit www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/CouncilMeetings.