The Governance Project: Connecting Up Landcare

By Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit

This article by Dr Adrian Zammit, CEO of Landcare NSW, is about a project that has been initiated to review the governance system for Landcare in the state of NSW.

Landcare NSW is implementing a project to review our governance system and ‘connect up’ the many elements that make up the Landcare NSW community.

Landcare has grown organically. Our community consists of individuals, local groups, regional organisations, paid staff, volunteers and, since 2007, the state peak body of Landcare NSW.

Building a community movement that is relevant to current conditions and able to make the most of opportunities while holding steady through hard times, is no easy feat. However, we are following in the footsteps of some of Australia’s best known volunteer organisations which started as a local response to an identified need and have grown into large, stable institutions.

The Country Women’s Association was formed nearly 100 years ago. Surf Life Saving is even older, dating back to 1907, and the first organised volunteer bushfire brigade was formed in 1900. These iconic organisations continue to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances while retaining their core values and mission.

Landcare is young in comparison, starting out in the 1980s, nevertheless renewal is critical to ensure we are fit for the future.

A strong governance system will help us fulfil our vision to nurture a volunteer movement that provides a way for all Australians to participate in caring for our land and natural resources.

Landcare NSW’s Governance Project is being facilitated by Randall Pearce of Think Insight Advice. Randall consults to not-for-profit organisations across Australia and has worked with Landcare NSW since 2014.

Work began in late 2020 with extensive research to understand the current system and identify areas for reform. There has been in depth discussion with the Council of Landcare NSW and engagement with the Landcare community via distribution of a Discussion Paper and online meetings. Engagement will continue in the coming months to ensure changes are made with the knowledge and support of the Landcare community.

By ‘governance’ we do not just mean the Executive Committee or Board of Landcare NSW but all the elements that make up how we organise and govern ourselves: the LNSW Council, regional and district Landcare organisations, the muster and the member groups of Landcare NSW.

Our starting point was to consider whether our system reflects governance best practice. We asked ourselves: is our system fit-for-purpose, clear, efficient, accountable, and transparent?

We reflected on how, in embarking on a reform process, we can stay true to the grassroots nature of Landcare and ensure the voices of Landcarers at all levels are heard, from the local paddock to the State Peak.

Our discussions around the Landcare NSW Council table point to a growing consensus around the need for reform. This is a large project with many dimensions that will be discussed extensively in a range of forums over the coming months but some key issues and questions are emerging.

There is strong agreement in Council that doing this work is critical if Landcare is to survive and grow.
Our future is linked to our success in attracting investment from a range of sources. An exemplary governance system is essential if the Landcare movement is to receive funds from donors, funders and investors.

For Landcare NSW to have legitimacy as the state peak body, we must have a governance system that ‘connects up’ the many elements that make up the NSW Landcare community. Through having a strong state peak, Landcarers can focus on local projects and priorities while we work at the state level to raise awareness of your work and secure more recognition and resources.

With the rapid growth of the past few years, it is timely to look at the role of, and relationship between, Landcare NSW’s Executive Committee, Council and muster, and to consider membership of each of these bodies.

Given the challenges facing our volunteer leaders, are the roles on these bodies ‘do-able’ for busy volunteers? Is our system understandable to Landcarers and others who deal with us? If not, how can it be simplified? Do our representatives have sufficient mandate and profile in their regions? Are there conflicts of interest issues? Do we have the right mix of skills and representation? What is the role of the Council vs the Executive Committee? How can we strengthen our regional organisations and align our representative boundaries more closely with our government funders?

These are some of the many questions under discussion as part of this major project. These issues will be discussed in detail at the May Council meeting. An in-depth regional consultation process will follow in July. You can read the Governance Project – Connecting Up Landcare NSW – Discussion Paper  here. Additional resources are available on the Landcare NSW Members Portal here.

All feedback is welcome and we encourage all Landcarers, especially those on committees and in leadership roles, to engage with this project. If you have questions or comments, please contact


Landcare NSW has acknowledged the invaluable contribution retiring NSW Local Land Services Board Chair Richard Bull made to sustainable agriculture and the state’s natural resources sector during his eight years with the organisation. 

Rick became Chair of the Board of Local Land Services (LLS) in 2017 and worked alongside Landcare NSW former Chair Rob Dulhunty and then current Chair Steph Cameron during a period of major expansion and development for Landcare. 

Landcare NSW Chair, Stephanie Cameron thanked Rick for the critical role he has played during his time as Chair of LLS. 

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my role as Chair of Landcare NSW has been to work alongside Richard Bull to build a harmonious and productive relationship between LLS and Landcare for the benefit of landholders, industry and the Landcare community. Rick brought experience, intelligence and wisdom to every interaction. I valued his wise counsel and guidance and the quiet way he steered a path through sometimes difficult waters to reach a resolution.   

“Rick saw the potential of harnessing the passion and skills of the Landcare community. Under his leadership, we saw a period of renewal, collaboration, trust and joint planning which brought government and the Landcare community together, Ms Cameron said. 

Landcarers across NSW will continue to benefit from the thriving partnership between LLS and Landcare NSW, after the two organisations refreshed and re-signed their Memorandum of Understanding in January earlier this year. 

Rick played a critical role in Co-Chairing the Joint Management Committee that oversees the four-year, $22.4 million NSW Landcare Program which continues to underpin the partnership  

A sheep producer at Holbrook and agricultural consultant, Rick has lived his entire life on the land and has been committed to advancing the state’s agricultural sector throughout his career. He was the inaugural Chair of the Murray LLS Board from 2013. 

He was very familiar with Landcare from his contacts in the Murray region and brought that understanding to the state level,” said Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit. 

He had a genuine commitment to support the growth and development of Landcare.  He understood the importance of the relationship between Government and Landcare at all levels. 

Rick attended every Landcare Council meeting and would listen carefully to each of the reports provided by Councillors. This ensured he got information directly from grassroots representatives. He took time out of his busy schedule to attend Landcare conferences and events where he spent time with the volunteer committee members, Landcare coordinators and volunteers. There is nothing he liked better than getting out of the office and out into the field to talk to people on the ground. 

 The esteem in which Rick is held by the Landcare community is enormous.  We thank him for his contribution and hope he will continue to play a role in our community,” said Dr Zammit. 

Opinion Editorial: Bold Actions Needed – There’s no vaccine for climate change

By Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit.

Every day we hear how COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across Australia to put a lid on this pandemic and allow us all to resume our lives as they were before. Every day we also hear about excessive carbon emissions and the resulting climate change and how this will change our lives. Unfortunately, we do not have a vaccine for climate change. Instead, decarbonisation of our economy will require productive partnerships between governments, corporates and communities. I believe that Landcare is the partner of choice for government and corporates in our collective fight against climate change.

Landcare NSW and its member groups recognise the significant challenges of climate change and its impacts on farming systems, environmental conservation, and communities. Through peer-to-peer learning across fence lines, more formalised community workshops, and by implementing projects in urban, rural, and regional NSW, Landcare groups are pioneering ideas that drive practice change towards more sustainable farming and increased biodiversity protection.

At a state level, Landcare NSW is actively engaging with its partners in Government and the corporate sector to help facilitate the changes needed. By working with the members of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Landcare or through our formal partnership arrangements with Local Land Services, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Saving our Species, corporates and other NGOs, Landcare NSW ensures that sustainable farming, conservation, and resilient communities are at the heart of government and corporate policies and projects. Only this week we celebrated the launch of the Federal Parliamentary Friends of Landcare in Canberra, a positive step forward as we position Landcare as a key stakeholder in our sustainable future. I believe that these mutually beneficial partnerships are fundamental to the future success of Landcare NSW and its member community as they highlight Landcare as the ideal delivery partner for regional, state and nation-wide projects, programs and other initiatives, for which success is underpinned by community engagement.

The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us that our well-being is dependent on the well-being of our planet. Time is running out. We must work together to take bold actions to protect, restore and sustainably manage our environment while safeguarding our economic well-being before it is too late. Landcare, working hand-in-hand with Government and corporates, is perfectly placed to play a significant role in sustainable farming, conservation and healthy communities.