Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP has today called on both the Premier and the NSW Opposition Leader to take a bipartisan approach to the NSW Landcare program and to deliver a $69.1 million funding commitment over the next four years.

Mr Ward said that the 2022 Economic Evaluation study by Nation Partners identified a total of $86 million of benefits attributed to the program and work of the Landcare coordinators, compared to a total program investment of $22.5 million.

“This equates to a net benefit of $63.5 million over the four-year delivery period, and an estimated economic return of $3.83 per dollar of investment. Modelling suggests that an investment of $58.8 million has the potential to deliver benefit valued at over $217 million,” Mr Ward said.

“I’ve written to both the Premier of New South Wales and the NSW Leader of the Opposition, urging them both to take a bipartisan approach to the NSW Landcare program and for both major parties to commit to a bipartisan $69.1 million funding commitment over the next four years.

Read my letter to the NSW Premier here.

Read my letter to the NSW Opposition Leader here.

“This will ensure that critical volunteering efforts of our hardworking and dedicated Landcare volunteers across the Illawarra and South Coast region, and communities right across our State, can continue to kick goals and achieve sound conservation outcomes and stewardship for our environment,” he said.

“As a local MP in this region, I have supported and secured funding for a number of important Landcare projects across the Kiama electorate; and I understand just how vital this program is for building resilience, environmental stewardship and support for grassroots volunteerism and grassroots conservation efforts,” Mr Ward said.

“Shoalhaven Landcare and Shoalhaven Riverwatch are just two local examples of organisations which are working towards improving the health of the Shoalhaven River for example, its estuaries and our natural environment by working in partnership with our local communities, First Nations people, local Councils and government agencies to achieve real outcomes.

“I also believe that we should increase local Landcare coordinator roles from one day per week to three or five days per week, expand the regional Aboriginal coordinator positions and establish a digital Landcare solution.

“This would improve the quality and ease with which NSW Landcare program data is captured, allowing on the spot reporting of issues with biodiversity management, pests, weeds, estuary management and makes reporting easier for local Landcare volunteers and groups across the Illawarra and South Coast region and across our State,” Mr Ward concluded.

Ms Ruth Jenkins, a local Tullimbah Landcare Group Coordinator, welcomed Mr Ward’s position and said that Landcarers work on both public and private lands in NSW and across Australia. 

“Our members build community’s by protecting, repairing and regenerating Bushland Reserves, the beach dunes, waterways and protect habitat for rare and endangered species and fauna and regional Landscapes, without further funding for Landcare and the local Coordinators the environment will miss out and the volunteers need this support in their work,” Ms Jenkins said.

“Tullimbah Landcare are just one group in the Illawarra that is doing bush regeneration work in the Elizabeth Brownlee Reserve at Albion Park. 

“We have been restoring and protecting our native vegetation in this reserve since 1999. 

“Landcare needs further additional funding to continue its work,” she said.

“Working to care for our local environment has a positive impact on the mental and physical health of individuals and the wellbeing of communities.

“I would like to see an increase in funding from what Landcare received over the last 4 years as Landcare Illawarra has only enough funds from the grant funding to employ one community support officer who only works 1 day a week,” Ms Jenkins concluded.

Mr Will Armitage Secretary of Shoalhaven Landcare association welcomed Gareth Ward’s ongoing support for the NSW Landcare program.

“Gareth has been a strong supporter of local Landcare in the past, and we thank him for his ongoing support of Landcare.

“The funding for the NSW Landcare program which employs 84 Landcare Coordinators, including 12 Local Landcare Coordinators in the South Coast region, is due to finish on 30 June 2023.

“We are looking for support from all parties leading into the upcoming NSW elections, to ensure that the valuable work our local Landcare groups do to protect and repair our environment within the Shoalhaven region can continue,” Mr Armitage said.