2019 Conference Themes

1. From Roots to Shoots
From grass roots community to children, land managers, planners and decision makers – networking, engagement, consulting, collaboration and cooperation are the key elements to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page. Is improved effectiveness in coastcare, landcare and natural resource management being achieved? Building on the connections that exist today, how can our sectors – community, local government, state and federal government, industry, business – get better at working together? Aboriginal communities are based across the state so what have we done to identify alliances that have long term strategies in place? How best can we engage schools and connect kids to NRM and Landcare? How can we increase interest in coast and landcare related studies and research? What examples for cross collaboration can we look to in other places? In other sectors?

2. Crossing Boundaries
A challenge facing us all is achieving the recognition that caring for our coast and land is also community building, and a critical element of social and health care. What are the connections between environmental health and human health, both physical and mental? What is the contribution of a healthy environment for positive economic and social outcomes? What will happen if we all recognise that caring for country is caring for community – as well understood in traditional Aboriginal practices eg the integral nature of bush tucker and bush medicine knowledge, care and use? Should we be looking for initiatives that cross boundaries – regional, whole landscapes, social/cultural boundaries, and political?

3. Policy, Laws and Traditional Knowledges: help or hindrance?
We all operate in a world of having to understand adaptation planning, organisational governance, environmental law, local, state and federal policy, strategy and frameworks, and the need to build capacity and resilience in our organisations, communities and environment. So where is legislation helping, where is it a hindrance and how can it be improved? Does the environment have a voice in the law? And what about species other than our own? What are the policy gaps? For example, how is community coast care faring since the federal government pulled back from supporting this part of the regional NRMs’ programs? And how can we learn and benefit from Aboriginal Traditional Knowledges that have been developed and refined over thousands of years? How can coast and landcarers positively engage with the Commonwealth Native Title legislation and the State Aboriginal Heritage Act when undertaking on-ground works?

4. Productive Use of Resources
Are permanent sustainable food productive systems possible? Sustainable and regenerative agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture sit alongside tourism and recreation as drivers of a healthy ecosystem. Sharing positive stories from our farmers/producers is important to show the way. What can we learn from long term sustainable Aboriginal practices? And what opportunities are there for mainstreaming native grasses and bush tucker species? Coastal environments are important for food and other resources, and offer diverse opportunities for recreation, tourism, commercial, agriculture, and industrial and residential development. Planning and managing these competing needs for the sustainable use of natural coastal resources are significant challenges. Our communities play a balancing act between the natural environment’s ‘needs’ and the cultural, social and economic factors that ‘consume’ natural resources. Where is that balance, and what can we do to start a stampede on the path towards achieving sustainable food production systems?

5. Country, Land & Sea –
Contemporary and traditional knowledge and learning and combinations of the two. Applying Aboriginal Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to coast and landcare is gathering momentum, and covers the gamut of activity in our sector. Is unlocking TEK the key to getting better rates of revegetation and successful stabilisation? Where is adoption of and integration with TEK best suited? What examples can we learn from? And where do we start? What are the latest findings from biodiversity, ecology, biology, geology and other fields of science, research, studies and academia? Does citizen science have a role to play in increasing scientific knowledge and influencing public policy? What are practitioners learning from their on-ground experiences and evaluations?

6. On the Edge
We’re here on the edge of the continent, but is coastcare, landcare and NRM in Western Australia on the edge when it comes to innovation and changes in practices, processes and systems? What successful innovation are we seeing in planning, on-ground management, and in engaging the community? Who are the future land managers in WA? Have we gone over an edge? How are we applying innovation to managing risk, adaptation and resilience during the sixth mass extinction as we see extreme natural events (fire, coastal erosion and flooding, biosecurity, drying climate, storms, inundation) increase? How is coastal engineering responding to the increased erosion that we are seeing from more regular extreme storm events? And what opportunities and concerns are there for climate ‘hacking’ to make a difference?