Community News

Care for those who care for the land

Australians are being asked to help make a tangible difference to farmers experiencing intense drought by making a donation to the Landcare Drought Relief Appeal.

Funds raised through the Landcare Drought Relief Appeal will be distributed to Landcare groups operating in intense drought-affected areas in New South Wales and Queensland, enabling them to provide much-needed support to local farmers.

Kentucky farmer and chair of Southern New England Landcare Karen Zirkler is experiencing first-hand the toughest drought on record.

“It’s shocking, absolutely shocking,” Karen said. “There are hillsides in Tamworth once covered with eucalyptus trees and now they are all dying. I have never seen it like this before and I’ve lived in the bush all my life.”

The majority of Landcare groups in the Southern New England region are made up of farmers. These groups have been integral to caring for the area; creating wildlife corridors, protecting native vegetation, and controlling weed and feral animal encroachment. Now it’s all about survival.

“People are getting tired, stressed, and anxious about the long-term forecast. As financial pressures mount, the risk of suicide and family break-ups increases,” Karen said.

It is during times like this that Landcare groups have a crucial part to play.

Karen explains: “Getting people together and supporting one another is what Landcare is all about. We could be running workshops that help farmers build their drought resilience and capacity to make decisions. As we are farmers ourselves, we know what support is needed and how to provide it.”

However, as the drought takes its toll on the entire community there is no money for Landcare groups to be able to provide this much-needed support.

According to Landcare Australia chief executive officer Dr Shane Norrish, being equipped with the right knowledge and tools is integral to these farmers surviving the drought and maintaining an income source for the future.

“While there are pressing immediate needs, these farmers also need assistance that brings long-term solutions. They need help to get through this drought and then be able to recover when seasons eventually improve,” Dr Norrish said.

Running workshops that help farmers build drought resilience is just one way Landcare groups in drought-affected areas can support their local farmers. These community groups also create opportunities for individuals to come together and provide one another with additional support, whether it be advice on supplementary feeding or just being there to lend a sympathetic ear.

According to Dr Norrish, “The emotional and social support these groups offer, especially during times of hardship, is something no amount of money can buy. But if we can raise $100,000 through the Landcare Drought Relief Appeal we can help these Landcare groups support the needs of many desperate farmers in their region.”

The Landcare Drought Relief Appeal runs until the 30 September 2018. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible and can be made at www.landcareaustralia.org.au

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