A Barcaldine cluster fencing group has won a state Landcare award, highlighting the valuable land stewardship role that graziers in western Queensland are undertaking.
So says regional Landcare facilitator, Doug Allpass, the man behind the nomination of the Clover Hills Cluster Group for the Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture and Land Management Award.
The group, which consists of five properties – The Patrick, Lara, Clover Hills, Gregory Park and Trent – was recently announced as the Queensland winner of the federally sponsored category, which puts them in the running for 2018’s national Landcare awards.
Between them, they have fenced in 33,545ha south of Barcaldine, keeping out excessive numbers of feral animals while maintaining normal numbers of native animals and normal grazing practices.
The ability to control kangaroo numbers was a significant part of the group’s nomination, which quoted studies that have shown three roos eat as much as two adult sheep.
“We estimate there would be more than 16,500 roos in the cluster, one for every two hectares,” it said. “This equates to around 11,000 more sheep being able to be run or $495,000 in extra wool production.”
The nomination anticipated ceasing the culling of kangaroos for commercial purposes to allow family groups with a dominant male to exist.
It expected the resulting pasture condition would give ground nesting birds more opportunities to survive, as well as encouraging small mammals and lizards to return.
“The cluster is very humbled by the award, knowing how many innovative and progressive producers are out there,” group representative, Ben Chandler said. “We are excited by the prospect of reintroducing sheep and wool production, with much stronger control of vertebrate pests, and husbandry outcomes.”
He said the exclusion fence allowed cluster members to maintain the biodiversity in paddocks, as they’d be at less risk of pasture and soil degradation.
Mr Allpass said the award highlighted the work being done throughout western Queensland via cluster fencing and the many pest and weed management and pasture monitoring programs put in place alongside those.
“This is no different to any of the other cluster groups in the west – they are an example of them all,” he said.
“And private landholders are just the same – they’re all looking after their land.
“They know, the more you look after it, the more it looks after you.”
There are 10 active Landcare groups in the Desert Channels Queensland catchment area at present, and Mr Allpass said any fencing cluster group could become a Landcare group and apply for funding for projects such as fencing off weed-infested creeks.
“There’s a hundred different ideas out there,” he said.
The federal assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Luke Hartsuyker, said the awards reflected the outstanding agricultural and environmental improvements dedicated individuals were making for Queensland and ultimately, Australia.
“One of the key challenges that faces our nation is how to continue to ensure productivity at the farmgate while also delivering better environmental outcomes—this is about being sustainable,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
“Sustainability has three dimensions: the environment, the economy and society. If we do not protect our environmental resources, we cannot hope for viable and profitable agricultural industries and we cannot hope for vibrant and healthy communities.
“Landcarers stand on the frontline of that work, delivering real outcomes that have a genuine impact not only on the health of our land, but on the prospects of the nation.
Other Queensland winners of the federally sponsored categories included:
- Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award – Bob Shepherd (Dalrymple Landcare Committee)
- Australian Government Partnership for Landcare Award – Tim Odgers (Seqwater)
- Australian Government Excellence in Sustainable Farm Practices Award – Peter Stevens (Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group Inc.)