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Your local environment needs your help

Did you know that there are everyday heroes working in your own backyard right now to protect and restore our precious environment for future generations?

Landcare is a community based volunteer movement made up of individuals and groups who work on managing environmental issues in their local areas.  The movement began nationally in 1989, through initiatives aimed at improving agricultural productivity through sustainable land management.  Landcare has since evolved to encompass a much broader focus on the sustainable management of all of Australia’s natural resources and includes projects across the whole country, from coastal to urban and remote areas of Australia.

Landcare groups are established when a group of people identify a problem in their local environment and work together on a practical solution. The groups that come under the Landcare umbrella work on a diverse range of environmental projects and fall under a wide range of names, including Rivercare, Bushcare, Coastcare, Friends of, and Dunecare.  Landcare also includes farmers embracing sustainable farm management and any community group that partakes in volunteer environmental activities.

A survey conducted of Landcare groups to coincide with Landcare Week 2011, shows a movement of dedicated people who are concerned for the future of our natural resources and need all of us to assist them to continue with their valuable work.

The survey, conducted by Landcare Australia to investigate the main issues facing the Landcare movement, and the needs of its volunteers, found that 98% of the 653 volunteers surveyed admitted to being concerned for the future of Australia’s natural resources.  83% also believe that the main aim of their groups’ activities is to protect the local environment for future generations.

43% of respondents however, believe that in order for their group to remain active and maintain its membership, the greatest need is for new volunteers to join up, with 74% of those surveyed admitting to actively recruiting for new group members.

Volunteering with Landcare doesn’t have to be a regular weekly or even monthly commitment.  It doesn’t even have to mean getting your hands dirty!  Landcare groups need all types of assistance from all types of people.  Landcare volunteers come from all walks of life and inspire in many different ways.

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Don Wilson, a retiree and Bushcare volunteer in Willoughby, New South Wales, started a Bushcare group in his local area over ten years ago.  He saw the need for more volunteers to come on board and developed the idea for the Bushcare Major Day Out, a one day community event to educate people as to what Bushcare is all about.  What started in Willoughby in 2009 is now a national event, thanks to Don’s enthusiasm and passion for the movement.

Megan Rowlett from the Illawarra Region in New South Wales saw the recruitment issues facing groups in her area first hand, and decided to do something about it.  She started the Illawarra Youth Landcare Group, a roving group of young people who meet once a month to help out groups in the region that need extra hands to be able to continue with their work.  Illawarra Youth Landcare works on a wide variety of projects and incorporates a social aspect into all their activities, to ensure that having fun is as much of a priority as hard work.

Tim Harris, a 23 year old farmer from Katanning, Western Australia has been responsible for planting almost 40,000 native seedlings on his broadacre sheep and cropping property.  He has also volunteered well over 100 hours of his time since February 2010 with a local group, the Lake Ewlyamartup Working Group.  This group of local volunteers works to address water quality issues in the local lake with a view to making it a better recreational and conservation asset that can be enjoyed by the whole community.

For each one of the 6,000 Landcare and Coastcare groups in Australia, there’s an inspirational story of a local environmental hero who cares enough to do something to make a difference, just like the people described above.

Australia’s natural resources are in the hands of these everyday heroes, who are working in your own backyard.  Anyone can donate themselves to Landcare and help them continue to work towards protecting the environment for future generations.

People can take part in a huge number of ways and give as much or as little time as they can.  To find an event or a group near you, simply visit www.landcareonline.com.au.

Follow Landcare Australia on twitter @landcareaust or like them  on Facebook

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