Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Year of the (Green) Farmer

Farmers are a key component of the Australian cultural fabric. Many of the country's great literature covers the outback Aussie men and women working with, on and against the land for survival. In today's economy the 136,000 farms around the country contribute more than $405 billion each year to the economy. That's 27% of the country's GDP. Without farmers industry would not have the materials needed to support the human population's basic needs such as food and clothing. These are just some of the reasons 2012 has been named "Year of the Farmer".

When it comes to being environmentally conscious, farming and being green may not be seen as going hand in hand. However WWF Australia has be working with farmers to protect our natural landscape. With the human population growing, demands for greater output from farmers is created. It could be assumed that this would require more clearing of land, having a negative effect on the country. WWF is working with farmers all over the country to help them adopt higher intensity ways of production,that require less land, less water and often are less expensive.

The south-west wheatbelt has long produced large quantities of Aussie grains but traditional clearing of land has threatened the temperate eucalypt woodlands of the area. Since 1998 WWF Australia has been working with local farmers to change their farming techniques and help them understand their important role as stewards of the land. Since this area is under represented under the National Reserve System, WWF Australia has played a direct role in brokering binding voluntary agreements with farmers that have resulted in more than 10,000 hectares of these precious woodlands being protected forever.

In Northern Queensland more than 70 sugar farmers are working in partnership with WWF Australia as well as  local natural resource management groups and Coca-Cola, one of the world's biggest buyers of sugar, to get more from their crops while using less. New intensive farming techniques have meant have meant farmers have not only saved money but they have been able to increase local water quality. New techniques require fewer pesticides, thus reducing run-off that eventually makes it's way through local streams and rivers to the Great Barrier Reef.

When humankind first discovered agriculture a long time ago, everyone had to work with the environment to ensure it's well being. These days as most of us have moved off the land, the responsibility of land stewardship has been left the just a select few. To find out more on how to support them please visit and

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