April: 2010

It has been some time since our last newsletter. Members have been busy on a number of fronts as follows.

Habitat 141 Workshop Little Desert Lodge March 20th and 21st.
Environmental Farmers Network members Andrew Bradey, Ross McDonald and Christine and Peter Forster and representatives of many other Community Environmental Groups attended a Habitat 141 Workshop at the Little Desert Lodge in March. The Workshop was convened by the NGO members of the Interim Steering Committee of H141.

Habitat 141 is an environmental restoration project of landscape scale that, if implemented, will provide enhanced native vegetation linkages from the outback to the coast, west of the Grampians. Major Parks and vegetation patches in the area include Danggali, Chowilla, Tarawi, a host of privately owned reserves, the new River Murray parks, Murray-Sunset, Hattah-Kulkyne, Wyperfeld, Big Desert, Billiatt, Ngarkat, Little Desert, Grampians, Lower Glenelg River and a number of other smaller National Parks.
The workshop was called to discuss organisational aspects (governance) of community involvement in project development and Implementation.

Representatives attending the workshop were from Landcare Networks, Community Groups, Environmental Organisations and Threatened Species Action Groups; from as far afield as Burra in South Australia, Scotia in NSW and Portland and Mt Gambier in the south.

One of the outcomes of the weekend is that Community Groups want to be actively involved in the development of Governance arrangements. EFN representation was considered desirable and Ross McDonald was nominated as EFN representative.

It was noted that landholders the Groups represent are essential players in any implementation plan.

Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Soil Carbon Sequestration
Our submission is now on our web site. We were invited to participate further at a public hearing in Hamilton. Darren Cribbes and Peter Forster attended on behalf of EFN. A further submission was made and notes including responses to specific questions asked in our letter of invitation and key messages were handed to the Panel.

While we support payment for ecosystem services one of our key messages was that too little is known about how to fix carbon in soil in a form that is stable for sufficient time (humic carbon); measurement inaccuracy, high cost of measurement and climate uncertainty all combine to discourage the development of an official carbon offset market mechanism in the short term.

Environmental Forum at the Lake Bolac Eel Festival March 27th
EFN members John and Jennifer Malin and Peter and Christine Forster attended the Forum. John was one of the guest speakers in his role as Chair of H11H12 Community Action Group. (H11 and H12 are Glenelg Hopkins CMA subcatchment numbers relating to Salt and Fiery Creek catchments.) The H11H12 CAG is tackling local environmental and sustainability issues on a catchment basis.  The theme for the forum was wetland health and associated flora and fauna issues including the latest research on Brolga populations.

We also had a modest EFN stand in the boatshed along with many other environmental groups.

Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy
The Victorian Government’s Draft Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy is now out for Community comment. The Government invites submissions particularly on specific proposals contained in Chapters 4 to 10. Submissions are due by Friday 21st May. Further information

If you have issues to consider in our submission please forward comments to the Secretary at

Climate Works Australia (a partnership between The Myer Foundation and Monash University)
Climate works has published a report titled Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia. The Report Summary has key findings and an agriculture sector summary. Agriculture can contribute 13% to emissions cuts at an average cost of $25.00/tonne. As cost is the major barrier it suggests that economic incentives such as a carbon price can be effective. 

The report identifies 54 separate opportunities to reduce emissions by 149 million tonnes CO2e by 2020 using known technologies. These actions are costed and some of the largest impact areas  identified are agricultural including cropland carbon sequestration and reforestation of marginal land with forest.

Annual General Meeting February 14th at Bunbartha
John and Robyn Pettigrew hosted our AGM. Those attending were not only exceptionally well catered for by our hosts but had the opportunity to inspect their irrigation property and fruit growing enterprise and the adjoining newly declared River Red Gum National Park along the Goulburn River. The executive is as follows.
Chair: John Pettigrew
Vice Chair: Andrew Bradey
Secretary/ Treasurer: Peter Forster
Public Officer: Peter Forster
Web Site Manager: David Cummings and Mairi Anne Mackenzie
Policy Editor: Christine Forster
Media Spokesperson: Chair or nominee
Executive: Darren Cribbes, Tom Guthrie and Ian Christoe

Web site
David Cummings and Mairi Anne Mackenzie are now in charge of our web site content and presentation. Please revisit our web site  to see new sections on submissions and press releases. Many thanks to David and Mairi Anne for taking on this task

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