Basil works to save the land

26 Jul, 2001 07:12 AM
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BASIL Schur of Denmark is a mild speaking man dedicated to local community development and landcare.

During the past 12 years from his Denmark base, he has established a reputation as a genuine environmentalist and educator throughout WA's south west. His initiatives in landcare education sourced from the Denmark Environment Centre, which he helped to establish, have become a part of the region's scene.

Basil grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe; an irrigated cattle property still run by his father and a brother.

"I was fortunate in growing up with a good model before me of conservation," Basil said.

"My father upheld biodiversity and landcare and conservation in his farming, and more recently I've come to see the contribution he made to conservation in Zimbabwe. But there are many people in this region who have been inspirational. Ron Watkins, a farmer near Frankland has made a great contribution to agriculture after being out on a limb for a long while. My colleague Louise Duxbury has always inspired me with her positive approach, and Many Peaks farmer Doug Russell is an example of wise management and biodiversity practices."

He said David Mattinson of Albany had made a contribution to promoting agro-forestry as one among many who have given much thought and time to environmental issues.

The environmental issues raised in Australia during the 1980s were inspirational enough to encourage Basil to devote his life work to the conservation of land, water and national heritage.

"I was one of a number of people when I moved to the Great Southern 13 years ago who wanted to help provide solutions and not just keep raising the problems of landcare," Basil said.

"We were interested in green development and ways of creating employment, and becoming part of the move towards sustainability."

He said farmers are always looking for better ways of doing things. His involvement with the Environment Centre and Green Skills means he is always looking for new plant species and perennial crops which are sustainable and would provide new markets for farmers.

Basil said his investigations covered forest and native bush products. He is one of a team promoting mallee oils, sandalwood and shelter belts with biodiversity components. Acacia saligna has been promoted for more than a decade in salt land rehabilitation.

"We at Green Skills are starting a project linked to CALM's research into identifying species, and this may be useful for developing new markets," Basil said.

"I'm also involved in developing a eucalyptus sawlog program for the drier area of WA. There's a need to move commercial forestry out to those areas."

With Green Skills, Basil has been involved in running three of its components: project management, environmental subjects, and potential employment opportunities which are foremost on Green Skills agenda.

Referring to the farming community of the lower Great southern and south west, Basil Schur said the Environment Centre and Green Skills has received great support from farmers and farmers groups. And government agencies.

"Recently we've had a six-month Green Corp program," Basil said.

"I think farmers could see we were in there to help them with labour when, because of the difficult run of seasons, they've had little time to put into their own landcare work. We've worked with more than 60 farmers during the past five years."

There have been woodlot trials at Nornalup and other projects from South Stirlings to Esperance.

As Basil Schur said, there's no profit in the work his organisations do, other than stimulating good environmental, biodiversity and landcare.

The Denmark Environment Centre has made Basil an honorary life member in recognition of his help in acquiring its own premises and building its office space and meeting-room extensions.

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