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Landcare movement attracts international interest

Australia's landcare movement is attracting increasing international interest. Landcare began in Australia as a community movement in the mid 1980s as we came to realise the implications of having some of the world's oldest and most fragile soils.

Over 4,500 landcare groups have since been formed, with over a third of farmers now involved.

While landcare is now strongly supported through the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust it has retained its community focus. And as other countries come to realise the importance of sustainable natural resource management they are looking increasingly to Australia's landcare model.

In March this year visitors from 22 countries attended the first International Landcare Conference, in Melbourne. As well, increasing numbers of both government-sponsored and private delegations are coming to Australia to learn about landcare.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to take a close interest in Australia's landcare movement, followed by South Africa. Both now have their own versions of landcare underway.

In June, a group of officials from South Africa, including the South African Deputy Director General of Agriculture, visited the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia.

In late July, ten officials from Vietnam spent two weeks in Victoria, the ACT and NSW sponsored by the Vietnam Sweden Mountain Rural Development Programme.

Delegations have also visited Australia from Namibia, India, Japan, the Philippines, Chile and Iceland, all of which have their own unique natural resource management problems. Australians involved in landcare have recently been invited to China, Argentina and Indonesia.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia has established an International Landcare Clearinghouse as a central point of contact for international landcare issues.

AFFA sees its role in promoting international community landcare as an important means of fostering trade relations and showing people a non-trade-distorting way of sustainable agricultural development.

For further information the Landcare Competitiveness and Sustainability Group website is located at www.affa.gov.au This site includes a link to the International Landcare Clearinghouse.

See also www.australia.org.nz

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