Responding to the drought was a major topic of discussion at the Landcare NSW Council meeting of 14 August with reports from many parts of the State on the serious impacts of the drought as well as positive stories about the resilience and skills of farmers and rural communities.

In response to the drought, Landcare is providing support, information and referral to landholders with the assistance of Local Landcare Coordinators and other Landcare staff.

In smaller communities that do not have government staff or other community groups, Landcare is often the key point of contact.

Council resolved that Landcare could do more should resources become available. A Landcare Drought Response Paper has been developed to illustrate additional activities Landcare could undertake to support farmers and communities. This is a living document and will be updated and added to as feedback from on-ground Landcare is received.

Following the Council meeting, Landcare NSW CEO Adrian Zammit met the State Drought Coordinator, Pip Job, to offer the support and assistance of the Landcare community.

He advised Pip that Landcare offers a supported network of groups, volunteers and professional staff who are skilled in land management and well-connected in their communities. Landcare is involved in the immediate response to the drought and will be central to recovery and preparation for future droughts. Landcare’s assistance ranges from technical advice to social support to rallying communities. As a Landcarer herself, Pip is well informed of Landcare’s capacity.

The point was also made that NLP2 (the National Landcare Program) had resulted in greatly reduced support for Landcare in many areas and that this has a major impact on capacity.

Pip advised her role was to support a whole-of-government approach to the drought. This includes coordinating the State Government’s response, overcoming barriers faced by farmers and resolving issues and problems. She advised the impact of the drought varies between regions and the length and intensity of the drought is not yet known. She warned the situation could worsen which will place even greater demand on farmers, businesses and community groups.

Pip appreciated the offer of assistance from Landcare and offered to facilitate a webinar to brief the Landcare community on the support available to landholders and communities – this will be organised soon. Landcare NSW will also ensure discussions occur with LLS to coordinate activity.

Landcare NSW has distributed the following information to the NSW Landcare community: the latest update on Government assistance, contact details of the Rural Resilience Officers who are facilitating the Rural Support Networks; and information regarding the GIVIT platform that is coordinating donations. 

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