An environmental volunteer co-ordination network that supports on-ground Landcare groups to restore degraded public and private land says there has been a sharp decline in government funding.
A representative of the north coast Regional Landcare Network Hannah Rice-Hayes told The Echo there has been a 64 to 80 per cent funding cut since 2015, owing to ‘changes in federal and state government funding priorities.’
She says a total of over $1.7 million has been cancelled for north coast Local Land Services (NCLLS) programs, which include: Community Capacity Support contract ($804,000), Regional Landcare Facilitator contract ($360,000) and Targeted Engagement contracts ($617,000).
Rice-Hayes said, ‘The closure of these NCLLS programs at the end of the last financial year represent a 64 per cent decrease in community support that north coast Regional Landcare Network and its member networks are able to provide to the community, and in some cases the decrease has been more than 80 per cent.’
So have the cuts affected local landcare groups? Brunswick Valley Landcare (BVL) co-ordinator Alison Ratcliffe told The Echo while they lost state and federal government funding, Byron Council had been very supportive and have been supplementing costs, including shared work spaces.
She said, ‘But by June next year, if the governments don’t come on board with funding local and regional co-ordinators, we could end up with nothing.’
The Green And Clean Awareness Team, which are auspiced by BVL and Landcare, say they have experienced cuts. The team’s co-ordinator Miles Shorten said, ‘Over the last ten years, in addition to Green And Clean Awareness Team’s private and business contributors, BVL has auspiced and helped administer larger single injections of funds (around $25,000 worth of grants), which significantly helped to rehabilitate the dunes at Clarkes and Main Beaches. BVL currently gives us (and other landcare groups) $500 per year for ‘locality group funding’, which is helpful because it can be relied on. Current lack of smaller grant opportunities ($10,000 to $15,000) is sorely missed.’
Local MLC Ben Franklin (Nationals) told The Echo, ‘It is important to note that NLP2 funding is provided by the Australian government. This is not state funding. I am advised by the minister’s office that contracts are still under negotiation with each LLS region.’
‘The NSW government is committed to Landcare NSW and has recently provided more than $2 million over two years to Landcare NSW to develop a sustainable Landcare model.’
In reply, regional Landcare facilitator Hannah Rice-Hayes said, ‘Landcare receives funding support from both levels of government to varying degrees, and naturally they influence one another.’
‘The Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative (LLCI) is a state program (partnership between Local Land Services NSW and Landcare NSW).
‘This is ongoing to the end of this financial year, and is the program that Landcare NSW are hoping to see renewed (requiring $32.5 million).’