The art of gentle persuasion

Thanks to Caring for Our Country funding we will be rolling out the Young Eco Champions program in 2013. As part of their roll the Young Eco Champions will go into schools with Young Farming Champions as part of the Archibull Prize in Southern NSW.

Each Young Eco Champion will also pair with a farmer and work on a Natural Resource Management (NRM) Project together.

Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt has already sunk her teeth into hers   

Megan starts her journey for you here …….


Not only is Megan a YEC she is also the National Young Landcarer of the Year


Educating landholders about the importance of our native vegetation is one thing, getting them to adopt sustainable management practices and applying this knowledge to the way they use the land is another.

Most landholders and farmers care for the land and the environment. They want the best outcomes for the natural environment as well as the best productivity outcomes for their land. Achieving both can sometimes be a challenge and often the environmental outcomes are secondary to productivity outcomes.

Megan and Marcus Clover Hill Project  (12)

At present, the landholder has attempted to control Lantana and Wild tobacco through slashing and then piling debris within the vegetation, hoping for it to mulch down.

Being involved in the Young Eco Champions (YEC) program, I am able to connect with landholders and other NRM professionals to work towards establishing the best management practices for landholders and their needs on their properties.

By developing practical and realistic plans in consultation with a range of stakeholders, we aim to work towards achieving the best outcomes for the environment as well as the landholder.

Here in the Illawarra, much of our vegetation has become fragmented and is isolated. Clearing activities over time from the early years of the Red Cedar loggers throughout the 1800’s and then for the agricultural industry,  high conservation value vegetation such as our Rainforest and Woodland, is now in many areas of our region, restricted to the escarpments and steep foothill areas which were in the past deemed unproductive due to their inaccessibility to farmers, or exists in small isolated patches across the landscape locked up on private property.


Cedar loggers cleared many of the trees in the Illawarra in the early 1800’s

Much of the remnants have become weed infested due to the disturbance and also due to bird drop and wind-blown seed from surrounding weed infested areas.

Our region boasts some of the best prime agricultural real estate in the country and I am really passionate about seeing this industry supported into the future and working together to get the best outcomes for the landscape and these landcarers – because really our farmers are the carers of the largest areas of land, and are the producers of our food for the future.  


The dairy industry is now the main agricultural industry and trees are very important for shelter

Fortunately many landholders in our region realise the value in preserving and attempting to rehabilitate natural areas. Benefits to water quality, and shelter for cattle are important issues to farmers, and eliminating threats of noxious, Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and other environmental weeds from the landscape are also a concern. Sometimes they just sometimes need a little bit of assistance and guidance.

I recently visited my first property I will be working on as a YEC with an experienced Bush Regenerator in prime coastal Dairy country – Jamberoo NSW. Here the rainfall is high, soil fertility is good and the climate is great almost year round. This means perfect conditions for weeds to thrive!

Our project will be looking to rehabilitate two island remnants of rainforest vegetation which sits in open grazing paddock. Although the vegetation is isolated, it is important shelter for cattle, and will also provide refuge for native wildlife travelling through nearby intact rainforest corridors.

At present, the landholder has attempted to control Lantana and Wild tobacco through slashing and then piling debris within the vegetation, hoping for it to mulch down.

Megan and Marcus Clover Hill Project  (2)

Megan and Bush Regenerator Marcus review the site for Megan’s project

Unfortunately this is suppressing any natural regeneration from occurring and opening up the vegetation edges to further weed infestations due to the high level of disturbance. Secondary weeds such as Cape Ivy, Bidens and Mist Flower are also now present and add to the difficulty in managing the vegetation. Although there is a high level of degradation, there is some good stuff in there too!

Our bush regenerator has developed a strategy for rehabilitating the remnants and we will be working in partnership with Landcare Illawarra to source appropriate tubestock for planting projects once the weeds are removed and we can establish where any natural regeneration is occurring. I am excited to be able to have discussions with the landholder and negotiate some control techniques and behavioural changes that will still allow for productive use of the landscape, but not impact on the vegetation and bush regeneration that will be occurring on this site.

Watch this space for updates on our progress!