Purposeful partnerships: Landcare NSW + Saving our Species

This month, we had a chat with Adrian Zammit, Landcare NSW CEO, about the organisation's journey with Saving our Species, what he believes are the essential elements for conservation initiatives and what Landcare's future with Saving our Species looks like.

Person wearing gloves, planting seedlings at Bradleys Head, Sydney Harbour National Park

Landcare NSW acts as a conduit between local Landcare communities and key decision-makers, providing leadership, skills, resources and representation. With the help of other environmentally focused groups, Landcare NSW delivers on-ground action and education about threatened species.

Biodiversity is our bedrock

To Adrian, biodiversity is about 'healthy landscapes that are teeming with a diversity of native flora and fauna'.

Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms, so Saving our Species ( SoS) and Landcare NSW are working together to raise awareness, capacity, resources, community interest and funding to support projects across New South Wales, so more can be done to secure the ongoing survival of threatened species.

Purposeful partnerships

Saving our Species works with partners which have a strategic corporate social responsibility and environmental conservation objectives that align to ours. Landcare NSW is one such organisation.

'The challenges that humanity faces in relation to natural resource management, including saving and protecting threatened species, are so huge and complex that no single agency can make any impact whatsoever,' Adrian explained. 'These "wicked" problems can only be tackled through partnerships, or the formation of a diverse, multilateral ecosystem of organisations that have similar or identical strategic goals.'

Projects we've collaborated with Landcare NSW on include Saving our Superb Parrot, Bellinger River Snapping Turtle, Save Our Scarlet Robin, Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project and many more.

These projects help save species and ecological communities through improving habitat and controlling threats (such as weeding programs and fox baiting), monitoring the effectiveness of on-ground actions, species' responses to management activities and supporting conservation projects in national parks and on private land. That's a long-winded way of saying they are crucial projects with real, measurable impacts.

Just as Landcare NSW has helped us make a difference through connecting our projects with grassroots community movements, Adrian said Saving our Species has 'allowed Landcare NSW to understand better the challenges that we are collectively facing when it comes to species protection, both flora and fauna.'

He also said something about the 'wonderful' Saving our Species people and 'fantastic ideas', but we don't want to look like we're tooting our own horn.

Volunteers, field work, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve

Critical community

Adrian believes engaging community is an essential aspect of conservation initiatives. More than half of New South Wales is privately owned, meaning that government and non-government agencies need to partner with community groups to plan and implement many environmental projects.

Local communities are intimately knowledgeable of their local landscapes, which Adrian identifies as one of the reasons why Landcare is such a powerful movement.

'Landowners and farmers, as custodians of a large proportion of New South Wales and on whose land exist threatened plant and animal species, need to actively support and be engaged in species protection initiatives for any chances of success,' Adrian said.

'Plants and animals do not recognise cadastral boundaries – they only recognise tree corridors or other suitable habitats for their survival – which is why it is essential that community is engaged with conservation initiatives.'

In this sense, the foundation of the Landcare philosophy is community involvement – Adrian believes involving community groups from the design phase of a project or program means their engagement doesn't stop once the project ends. Engaged community groups will continue looking after the landscape well beyond project conclusion.

Volunteers doing bush regeneration at Bradleys Head, Sydney Harbour National Park

Valuable volunteers

In a 2018 study commissioned by Landcare NSW, Aurecon's environmental economists reported that community Landcare in NSW delivers an impressive triple-bottom-line benefit above $500 million per year to the NSW economy. NSW Landcare's 60,000 vital volunteers are supported by an infrastructure of 74 Local Landcare Coordinators and 12 Regional Landcare Coordinators that provide the coordination, management and reporting for statewide projects – it truly is a team effort.

'Landcare volunteers are the backbone of community Landcare in New South Wales and Australia,' Adrian told us. 'They collectively donate hundreds of thousands of free labour, subject-matter expertise, local knowledge of the landscape, and passion for the cause – simply because they want to do what is right.'

Looking ahead

'The future [with SoS] is very bright as we bring synergistic skills, knowledge and capabilities to the partnership. This is another example of a successful community-government partnership,' Adrian said.

The Saving our Species and Landcare NSW partnership is one step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing saving our beloved species together.

You can find out more about Landcare NSW and its important work with Saving our Species on the Landcare NSW website.