REGENERATIVE farmers balancing farming and conservation and a regional group with its own native plant nursery were two of the winners at last Friday's 2021 WA Landcare Awards.
Botanist, conservationist, TAFE lecturer and land management educator Sylvia Leighton and Wilyun Pools farm partner Peter McKenzie, who has a farm forestry and agriculture background, won the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award.
They have sought to balance farming and conservation values in restoring their 1214 hectare property at Wellstead that was cleared for agriculture in the 1960s by Ms Leighton's family.
"It came as a surprise to win the award," Ms Leighton later posted on Facebook.
"We know there are many creative and amazing WA farmers who have been integrating landcare practices into their commercial agricultural operations for a long time with a vision to look after the long-term health of WA landscapes.
"We have also really appreciated the growing support of regenerative farming principles here in WA as it emphasises the importance of looking after healthy alive soils in our agricultural operations.
"Increasing knowledge on soil functioning is recognising the key role that fungi and soil micro-organisms play in long-term soil carbon sequestration services and soil nutrient availability to plants."
Katanning Landcare, which has completed more than 220 publicly-funded projects worth more than $12.5 million in its 31 years, was the winner of the Australian Community Media Landcare Community Group Award.
Apart from projects to control salinity, wetland restoration, threatened species recovery, weeds and pests control, revegetation, waste reduction and carbon farming, Katanning Landcare runs a local Landcare centre which provides information, resources and three landcare officers.
In 2017 it purchased a revegetation nursery which supplies about 400,000 native seedlings a year throughout the southern Wheatbelt and Great Southern.
A 20-year war on weeds, invasive plants and pests such as foxes, around Margaret River as a volunteer working in conjunction with the local shire council and Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, earned Margaret Moir the Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award.
Community program officer co-ordinating multiple environmental rehabilitation projects from City of Melville to City of Canning, Jayson Sekhon, won the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award.
Tree-planting programs and developing the Two Knowledges bushwalk with members of the local indigenous community, on top of the normal recycling, Water Wise, energy saving, worm farming and vegetable garden projects schools are involved in, clinched the Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award for Forest Crescent Primary School, Thornlie.
Bush walks, educational talks and workshops on bush tucker and indigenous culture, as well as revegetation and rubbish, weed and pest removal projects have resulted from an alliance between the Moore Catchment Council and local Yued community at Moora.
Together they won the Australian Government Partnerships For Landcare Award.
A caring for country project aimed at improving indigenous employment prospects in the South West resulted in the Undalup Wadandi Rangers Program winning the KPMG Indigenous Land Management Award.
WA's Coastcare Award was won by Busselton Jetty Inc for its role in educating and inspiring young people to become marine environment stewards.
The awards were presented at a function at Kalamunda Community Centre with MP Darren West standing in for Agriculture and Food, Regional Development and Hydrogen Industry Minister, Alannah MacTiernan.
Mr West said lessons about caring for country from the "oldest continuous civilisation on earth" were starting to filter through to more recent custodians of the land.
"We are starting to figure out that caring for the land is the most important thing we can do - putting a focus back on the soil and what farming systems we use is extremely important," Mr West said.
WA Landcare Network chairman Mick Davis congratulated the winners and finalists.
"We're seeing real and substantial outcomes from the dedication and commitment of community landcarers," Mr Davis said.
"It's critical that we continue to support and recognise their tremendous efforts."
Winners in national award categories will represent WA at the 2022 National Landcare Awards in Sydney next August.
2021 Western Australian Landcare Awards winners
Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award: Margaret Moir. Highly commended: Iszaac Webb.
Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award: Moore Catchment Council and Yued Community of Moora.
Australian Government Landcare Farming Award: Silvia Leighton and Peter McKenzie.
Coastcare Award: Busselton Jetty Inc.
Australian Community Media Landcare Community Group Award: Katanning Landcare.
Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award: Forest Crescent Primary School.
KPMG Indigenous Land Management Award: Undalup Wadandi Rangers Program.
Steadfast Young Landcare Leader Award: Jayson Sekhon. Highly commended: Talitha Huston.
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