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Report shows farmers revegetate 70 million hectares

4 July 2013

A new report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that Australian farmers revegetated almost 70 million hectares of agricultural land in 2011-12.

CEO of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Matt Linnegar said that the data shows just how important a role Australia’s 157,000 farmers play in managing the natural environment.

“70 million hectares is 10 percent of Australia’s landmass, or almost the size of NSW – all of which, says the ABS report, has had its vegetation protected or regenerated by farmers,” Mr Linnegar said.

“The two main reasons for this were for livestock production and for environmental protection, which shows that agricultural productivity and looking after the environment can go hand in hand.

“The report also shows that weed management and fencing off or excluding stock are both important practices that farmers undertake on their farms to help look after their land.

“A second report, also by the ABS, has found that almost one third of Australian agricultural businesses set aside 8.4 million hectares, or an area bigger than Tasmania, on their own properties for conservation – and where natural environments existed, over half of all these businesses protected these areas for conversation purposes.

“These two reports reaffirm what we already know: that farmers care deeply about the land they work on, and that the sustainability of the natural resources that farmers rely on – land, water and air – are critical factors for Australia’s agricultural sector.

“All up, Australian farmers own, manage and care for more than half of Australia’s land, which means they really are at the frontline of delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the Australian community.

“Farmers are active participants in programs like the national Landcare program - founded 24 years ago by the NFF and the Australian Conservation Foundation – undertaking sound land management practices and sustainable productivity.

“In fact, according to a recent survey by the National Landcare Facilitator, some 93 percent of Australian farmers practice Landcare on their farms. Australia’s farmers really are Australia’s environmental stewards,” Mr Linnegar said.

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