Kachana at the end of 2002
We on Kachana wish you all the blessings of Christmas and a rewarding 2003!
2002 has been another great learning experience: sorrow… joy… tears... laughter... loss… gain… record flooding... early cut-off to the wet season… visitors... encouragement... criticism.... long dry spell... many helpers.... bureaucratic hurdles… more encouraging results out in the field… media coverage… successful September Workshop... fire... the first soilfoodweb data on Kachana to help us better understand our impact on the soils… the first family holiday in about five years… one broken leg… good rain in November… over twelve months of daily cattle shifts (except for a fortnight in February)... fantastic responses in country we saved from fire... trends continue much as expected in the areas we cannot afford to better manage yet... the model areas are now speeding ahead... a slow but steady increase in the annual calf-drop… producing feed faster than we can grow out the herd… eagerly awaiting whatever this season brings with it…
Although we remain in a capitalisation phase, we once again conclude that the prospects of Triple Bottom Line are looking better with each year:
Socially: Social capital is accruing at an increasing rate. Willing helpers form within Australia and overseas. Much encouragement. Guest speakers who donated their time and effort while coming to our workshop at their own expense! One department sent a representative to our workshop as "exploration" proceeds while in real life we still contend with continued "rejection" and "denial". We are not as tired as we were at this time in past years. One more university that now knows about us. Thanks for assistance with: the cattle work, the grass planting , all the little chores, the fire fighting , the publicity, looking after the camp and horses while we were away, the visits… and now thanks for all those Christmas cards!
Ecologically: A politician would say; " In seasonally adjusted terms we are curbing inflation." Yes our natural capital is still being eroded despite some very encouraging results on a few square kilometres. The bulk of Kachana like the rest of the region is unfortunately still at the mercy of prevailing trends.
I do not wish to offend anybody on our public pay-roll, but I feel that in many respects the departments are failing future generations as well as the people they are supposedly serving. With regard to our landscapes (the natural resource base that should sustain us) I have yet to see evidence of how the expenditure of our taxpayer earnings are reflected in better outcomes for all. I have no hidden agendas and my sentiments are tabled here...
In short our situation is simple: we are getting spectacular results that defy conventional rangeland wisdom (see report of the workshop 2002). We have a range of results that indicate that there are many cost-effective options to improve broader landscape management outcomes. These are simply being ignored. Perhaps I am being naive in believing that the expenditure of public funds should be publicly accounted for... I hope not... Meanwhile I continue to believe that our results, that are increasingly attracting international attention, will eventually attract some local scientists to help evaluate what is taking place. It is time we find out whether or not what we are achieving is beneficial to the region. We will continue to focus on our model areas, while in the foreseeable future we will need to keep other areas of Kachana much as they are in an effort to minimise fire damage.
In time we hope to be able to make more and more exceptions with select pockets which we hope to manage as "biodiversity islands". The purpose of these "islands" will be to serve as gene reservoirs for birds, small animals, plants and micro-organisms until we can get effective regional fire strategies into place. Once this is the case these islands can be used to recolonise the currently desertifying areas. (It is often forgotten that genetic diversity within a species is an important facet of biodiversity; the large scale burning of landscapes that currently occurs in this region - apart from being a major contributor to atmospheric pollution - does not favour biodiversity in any way. ) Once effective management strategies are in place, these "biodiversity islands" will be advertised for adoption to the general city dwelling public to help meet the challenges of our generation to create opportunity for those after us.
Another facet of our strategy is to help promote environmental literacy: as of this year we will be offering "Environmental Literacy Workshops". These will serve as a type of pre-school for the more high powered training courses offered by Holistic Management and RCS. They are however also very suitable for corporate training seminars as the commercial world begins to grapple with the concept of triple bottom line.
Financially: Walking a cashflow tightrope is familiar to most people in an "owner builder" situation. Building a physical structure or a business is one thing, however building an ecologically sound primary production base in what (despite its beauty and appeal) was close to an ecological wasteland, is quite another…. We seem to be on track and more people are coming on board and that is what counts. We have great support from Kimberley Specialists and Alligator Airways who are now handling the paying guest facet. (What was known as Sandor's Camp has been given a face-lift and a new camp on Alligator-Creek is ready for the next dry season.) Eco-Contributions and Enviro-Levies are used to help fund land restoration and land-care. We continue to rely on off-farm income for day-to day living expenses and further capital expenditure.
Misc News: On Kachana, Telstra has come good on its word to provide more reliable communication for the out-back: Internet access and a more reliable satellite phone have helped us get away with a lot less trips to town. Thank you TELSTRA, TELSTRA SHAREHOLDERS and TELSTRA USERS!
While on a note of praising technological aid to outback based family sized enterprises: THANK YOU Vanessa, Wilma, Patrick, JP and Elaine !!!!! We find our results encouraging and thank you all for helping us make others aware.
- http://www.jpdownunder.vze.com/ (look under "PHOTO GALLERY")
A new project Planned for 2003:
With our SECOND ANNUAL KACHANA LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP this year we will begin to collect for the "BYRNE TERRY ELLENBRAE FUND". The purpose of this fund is to help pay for scholarships to agricultural students or young farmers in ecological crisis zones. The scholarship will involve an environmental literacy course followed by and a three-month practical stint where this knowledge can be applied in real life. During the last month, the learning experience will be wrapped up by Holistic Management training conducted by an internationally certified Holistic Management educator who has field experience.
Profits from our September workshops will be the main source of funding. Donations and other forms of fundraising will also be explored.
When Byrne died unexpectedly at 42 years of age he was in the process of beginning to implement a great vision for the land that he managed. I thank Byrne for his consistent support in the raising of ecological awareness in our community. This step is a natural continuation of work we began together with Byrne in 1997 when he was friend, neighbour and fellow land-manger on Ellenbrae Station (Kimberley, Australia).
This idea has been slow in growing and no doubt there will be all sorts of challenges before it fully matures, but we see this as one more way that we can make a contribution to a securer future.
We thank all our helpers and moral and financial supporters. Please continue to let other people know about our workshops, our results and Kachana as a holiday destination.
We wish you and your loved ones God's blessings,
(on behalf of the Kachana crew)