Coffs Harbour Regional Landcare held its first General Meeting of the year on Wednesday evening at the Coffs Harbour Community Village.
The meeting was well attended, with over 20 members turning out to hear the guest speaker and share ideas for the coming year. The aim of CHRL will be to grow these meetings and make them interesting to members.
The highlight of the evening was a presentation by one of our new members, Maddy Black from the Corindi Landcare Group. Maddy is currently undertaking a PhD looking at identifying barriers to farmers undertaking conservation programs on their farms. The barriers ranged from costs, to education. While Maddy’s research was undertaken in the New England region, the results have applicability across Australia and provided the Executive and members with a lot of insights and ideas to apply in their work.
Members reported on their Landcare sites and plans for the coming 12 months. One of the focus points for discussion at this meeting was around membership and how we keep volunteers engaged, and specifically how we can interest young people in our work. Lots of good ideas came out of the discussion that the Executive will work with to ensure that CHRL remains vibrant and relevant now and in the future.
The meeting heard from CHRL staff about a number of new projects. In particular Mel Craig provided an interesting presentation on Blueberries and bioreactors. She is working on a project that aims to reduce the amount of nutrient rich runoff entering our local waterways. The project is trialling a bioreactor which is a trench dug between the bottom of the blueberry rows and the riparian zone. It is then filled with wood chips. Nutrient rich run off runs into the trench where bacteria breaks down the nutrients into harmless gas. This technique has been already trialled on pineapple farms in Queensland. In tandem with other nutrient run-off mitigation measures this may be an appropriate technology to improve water quality below blueberry farms. This project is being supported by North Coast Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. It is due to be completed by May 2018 and CHRL is now looking at ways to involve a university in longer-term monitoring of the results.
Jude Turner provided an update on finances and reminded members to pick up their new first-aid kits from the office.
The meeting also heard that the Executive is concerned about future funding for CHRL given recent changes in the funding arrangements and focus under National Landcare Program 2 as well as changes to the administration of the Coffs Harbour City Council’s Environmental Levy. The Executive is watching this closely and working with Northern Region Landcare to ensure that CHRL continues to be able to deliver projects across the region.
The next General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 2 May 2018. All members are invited to attend.
President and Chair Coffs Harbour Regional Landcare Incorporated