Victorian farmer Andrew Stewart has been named winner of the prestigious Bob Hawke Landcare Award for his environmental work and sustainable agricultural achievements on his 230-hectare property at Corangamite.
The award, which comes with a $50,000 prize, was presented on Thursday night by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud as part of the Landcare national conference, held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading University of Western Australia academic Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott won the inaugural General Jeffery Soil Health Award.
Emeritus Professor Abbott is an an expert in the field of soil science and soil biology. The award is dedicated to Australia's first National Soils Advocate and former Governor General, Major General Michael Jeffery, who passed away in December 2020.
Mr Stewart's Yan Yan Gurt West Farm in southern Victoria is a remarkable example of how to successfully combine regenerative grazing and agroforestry. Plantings of 50,000 trees and shrubs have increased woody vegetation across the farm from 3 per cent to 18 per cent, without impacting agricultural production.
More than 2000 people from across Australia logged in to watch the 2021 National Landcare Awards, hosted by popular ABC-TV presenter and Landcare champion Costa Georgiadis.
Seventy-five nominees competed in 11 categories, honouring Landcare excellence from the coast, through suburban and regional communities, to farming areas, and celebrating individual, community, youth and Indigenous achievements.
ACT's Red Hill Bush Regenerators took out the Landcare Community Group Award, sponsored by ACM, publisher of this website, for their work restoring the native ecology of one of the largest remaining remnants of endangered yellow box and Blakley's red gum grassy woodland in Australia.
Dhani Gilbert, an Indigenous activist and climate action campaigner, also from the ACT, won the Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award.
Floating Landcare won the Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award for its program to restore weedy hot spots within national parks and on other public lands along the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater and Central Coast waterways.
Moree's Amarula Dorpers, run by Lorroi and Justin Kirkby, took out the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award. The couple's focus on soil biology and regeneration to increase groundcover to effectively use all the rain that falls on their land, has helped establish sub-tropical grasses and legumes in previously degraded soils that had been continuously farmed.
Victoria's Newham Public School scored the Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award for their work to establish Indigenous vegetation along a tributary of Deep Creek, creating a nature corridor for local wildlife. They've also designed and built a wetland to provide an alternative breeding ground for frogs; 10 southern brown tree frogs now it call home.
The Northern Territory's Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation won the Coastcare Award after working tirelessly for 20 years to protect land and sea country on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria from some of the highest densities of foreign-sourced rubbish in the world.
The KPMG Indigenous Land Management Award went to Wunambaal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, for their work on Wunambaal Gaambera country that covers 2.5 million hectares of key cultural and ecological land in the Kimberley region.
The Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award went to Basil Schur, for his pioneering efforts to secure the future of the unique biodiversity of WA's south coast, including the establishment of the Denmark Wetland Centre for community education and co-ordination of the Balijup Fauna Sanctuary.
Tasmania's Redbank Farm took the Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Award for their pursuit of precision agricultural techniques to address crop variability and resource use efficiency.
Mr Littleproud commended the National Landcare Award winners on their outstanding accomplishments, and applauded the resilience of the Landcare community in general during this incredibly challenging period.
They continued to exhibit extraordinary spirit in the face of adversity, he said. A good example was the adaptability of the whole Landcare movement to come together online to celebrate the national awards.
The national conference and awards presentation, delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, were conducted entirely online. If you missed the conference, you can watch it on the Landcare Australia website.
The 2021 National Landcare Award winners
- Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award: Newham Public School from Victoria
- Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award: Dhani Gilbert from the ACT
- ACM Landcare Community Group Award: Red Hill Bush Regenerators from the ACT
- Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award: Floating Landcare from NSW
- Coastcare Award: Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation from the Northern Territory
- KPMG Indigenous Land Management Award: Wunambaal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation from Western Australia
- Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award: Basil Schur from Western Australia
- Australian Government Landcare Farming Award: Amarula Dorpers from NSW
- Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Award: Redbank Farm from Tasmania
- Bob Hawke Landcare Award Winner: Andrew Stewart from Victoria
- General Jeffery Soil Health Award Winner: Professor Lynnette Abbott from Western Australia
The 2021 National Landcare Awards and 2021 National Landcare Conference are delivered by Landcare Australia through support from Australian Government's National Landcare Program. For more information about the awards and the conference, visit nationallandcareconference.org.au/national-landcare-award-winners-2021