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Local News

World-first research suggests natural capital impacts farm performance

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Australian research project, Farming for the Future releases preliminary findings on natural capital.

World-first research suggests natural capital impacts farm performance

 

Australian research project, Farming for the Future releases preliminary findings

In a study of global significance and at a scale never previously undertaken, Phase 2 of the Farming for the Future research program has collected financial, ecological and social data from 130 Australian grazing and cropping enterprises, the preliminary results of which were unveiled today at the National Farmers’ Federation & Farming for the Future Natural Capital Summit in Canberra.

Dr Sue Ogilvy, Program Director, Farming for the Future said the initial research findings demonstrate that it is possible to establish and quantify the relationship between a farm’s natural capital, and its productivity and profitability.

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“This is the prototype phase of our program, but already we have evidence that shows there is great potential to be realised by being able to quantify the value of investing in a farm’s natural capital,” Dr Ogilvy said.

“The methods developed for the project will help to provide a baseline for both emissions and  natural capital condition and value in productive landscapes, and support policy and private investment to realise a more financially prosperous, climate-resilient, and environmentally positive agriculture sector in Australia.

“Importantly, our analysis has identified the real possibility of an ‘opportunity zone’ where investment in the ecological condition of a farm is associated with financial benefits.”

Preliminary results from Farming for the Future Phase 2 research indicate that:

  • High levels of farm productivity are possible from both intensive livestock enterprises (with low natural capital) and those with higher of natural capital, but high natural capital farms are more profitable in financial terms.
  • There are different ‘benefit pathways’ through which natural capital can support farm businesses, including via improving productivity, and/or by reducing input costs.
  • Most of the relationships between natural capital and farm business performance that we observed were positive and linear. This means that most farms in our sample, and similar farms within the broader farming population, could improve their business outcomes by improving their natural capital.
  • Our landholder surveys show that the potential for private financial benefits is the most compelling reason for farmers to invest in natural capital improvements.
  • Delivering insights into natural capital-farm business relationships across a broader range of focus regions and enterprise types would help to drive large-scale industry adoption of improved natural capital management (+38% of farms beyond forecast baseline levels).

Results of analysis show that the relationship between natural capital and farm business performance is, for the most part, a positive one with clear evidence of the ‘opportunity zone’ for all farm metrics tested.

“As natural capital improves, so too can farm performance.  It is possible that there is some trade off point at very high levels of natural capital, but our research has found that most farms haven’t reached a trade-off point so there is still scope to realise productivity and profitability benefits from further investment in natural capital.

Australian research project, Farming for the Future releases preliminary findings

Australian research project, Farming for the Future releases preliminary findings

The Farming for the Future research team is supported by a multidisciplinary network of farm advisors, natural resource management (NRM) experts, and scientists to conduct the program of research, analysis, and systems change activation.

“Importantly, we have been able to tease out individual natural capital measurement indices that can be directly related to farm management actions.

“By working hand-in-hand with farmers and their advisors during the research to understand what information would be useful, we can start to develop the tools and benchmarks to inform decisions about investment in a farm’s natural capital and the opportunity for improved financial performance,” Dr Ogilvy said.

Initiated by philanthropic foundation, the Macdoch Foundation, Farming for the Future, is industry-led and supported.  Funding for the first phases has been secured from a broad network of supporters, including philanthropists, government, banks, and industry bodies including Meat & Livestock Australia, and Australian Wool Innovation.

At the joint Farming for the Future and National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) event in Canberra today, Tony Mahar, CEO, NFF spoke about the opportunity for Australian agriculture to employ initiatives that build farm-level information that deliver returns to farmers and rewards them for compiling that information.

“One of the key premises for practice change with respect to natural capital is that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and you won’t invest in what you don’t value. There is already an extensive knowledge base and capability amongst farmers but there is not currently a comprehensive and consistent set of natural capital measures to support widespread adoption of natural capital measurement across Australia.

“By empowering farmers to invest in natural capital for climate resilience, and providing the tools to support how farmers interact with markets, supply chains, banks and governments, farmers will be better equipped to make decisions about natural capital to make their businesses productive, profitable and resilient under climate change and be recognised for good management of natural capital,” Mr Mahar said.

Future research will be expanded to include a diversity of farming businesses across Australia with the intent of revealing the value of natural capital to agriculture by quantifying the private benefits to farmers that accrue when they manage natural capital in a way that also delivers environmental outcomes that are in the public good.

Program Director, Dr Sue Ogilvy said, “Farming for the Future is a program designed to achieve public interest goals and collective impact via cross-disciplinary and cross-industry collaboration. Our philanthropic mission frees us up to work across disciplines, establish unique collaborations, take calculated risks, go fast, and achieve breakthroughs that others are unable to. We have now proven that relating natural capital to farm business performance is possible, and we have done it. Philanthropy has acted to create this ‘proof-of-concept’, reducing the risk and paving the way for future investment by others for us to scale.

“Funding is now being sought to expand our research activities to incorporate 1,500 livestock, cropping and mixed cropping-grazing farm businesses as well as horticulture and rangelands pastoral enterprises across all Australian states and territories. Completion of the research program will see consolidation of program outputs and generation of capability to enable mainstream farm management and reporting to include natural capital business value benchmarking and enable farmers to efficiently report their performance to stakeholders.

“Ultimately, program assets will be transferred, as a nationally significant information capability, to a long-term, trusted institutional owner who will continually update the evidence base and make the findings widely available for the empowerment of farmers to assure healthy productive landscapes and resilient rural communities that are ready to face future challenges from emerging markets and a changing climate,” Dr Ogilvy said.

 

For more rural news, click here.

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Local News

Why Travel Should Be an Essential Human Activity

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Why Travel Should Be an Essential Human Activity

Why Travel Should Be an Essential Human Activity

 

In our increasingly globalised world, travel is often seen as a luxury, an indulgence reserved for the few who can afford the time and expense. However, travel holds intrinsic value beyond mere leisure, playing a crucial role in personal development, cultural understanding, and even mental health. Travel should be considered an essential human activity, integral to our development as individuals and as a society.

Expanding Perspectives

One of the most profound benefits of travel is its ability to expand personal perspectives. Encountering places that differ from our home environment challenges our preconceived notions about the world and our place within it. It introduces us to new ways of living, thinking, and interacting, which can lead to greater empathy and understanding across cultural divides. This broadening of perspectives is not just beneficial on a personal level but is essential in developing global cooperation and peace.

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Enhancing Adaptability and Problem-Solving Skills

Travel often involves navigating unexpected situations, whether it’s dealing with a language barrier, finding your way in a new city, or managing different currency systems. These challenges require adaptability and problem-solving skills. Over time, travellers develop a knack for thinking on their feet and adapting to new circumstances quickly and efficiently. These skills are incredibly valuable in both personal and professional contexts, making individuals more capable and resilient.

Boosting Mental Health

The mental health benefits of travel are significant and well-documented. Breaking away from the daily grind can reduce stress and prevent burnout, which is increasingly common in our fast-paced, always-connected lives. Moreover, exposure to natural beauty—such as mountains, beaches, and forests—has been shown to boost mood and improve mental health. The stimulation of new experiences can also reignite creativity and passion, which are often stifled by routine.

Developing Human Connections

Travel connects us with people from all walks of life. These connections can be profoundly enriching, offering insights into the lives of others and forging bonds that often last a lifetime. Whether it’s a conversation with a local artisan about their craft or a shared meal with fellow travellers, these interactions deepen our understanding of humanity and the threads that connect us, despite our apparent differences.

Supporting Economic Development

From a practical standpoint, travel is a significant economic driver in many parts of the world. It supports local economies by creating jobs, promoting local crafts and cuisines, and fostering a better understanding among different cultures. For many communities, tourism is a primary source of income and a vital part of their economic stability. Responsible travel can help distribute wealth more evenly and support sustainable development.

Educational Value

Travel is profoundly educational, not just in a formal sense but in the everyday learning that comes from being in a new place. This type of education is experiential and immersive, teaching history, geography, sociology, and economics in ways that books and classrooms cannot match. For children and adults alike, travel can complement traditional education, providing real-world contexts to theoretical knowledge.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

When done respectfully, travel can play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage. Tourists’ interest often helps fund the maintenance of sites of historical and cultural significance, which might otherwise deteriorate. Moreover, by appreciating different cultures, travellers can contribute to a broader respect and understanding of these traditions and histories, ensuring they are valued and preserved for future generations.

The Necessity of Accessible Travel

Recognising the importance of travel should also lead us to consider accessibility. Ensuring that people from all economic backgrounds have the opportunity to travel is essential. Programs that facilitate youth travel, scholarships, and affordable travel options can help make the benefits of travel accessible to more people. Moreover, improving accessibility for travellers with disabilities is also crucial, ensuring that travel is truly inclusive.

Conclusion

Travel is much more than an escape from everyday life. It is a vital human activity that enriches our lives in countless ways, from personal growth and mental health to economic benefits and cultural preservation. As the world becomes more interconnected, the importance of travel as a tool for understanding and cooperation cannot be overstated. By promoting and facilitating travel, we can foster a more informed, connected, and empathetic world. Thus, travel should not only be considered essential but encouraged as a fundamental aspect of human activity.

 

For more travel news, click here.

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Local News

Top Romantic Getaways to Explore with Your Partner

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Top Romantic Getaways

Top Romantic Getaways to Explore with Your Partner

 

Planning a holiday with your partner can be an exciting endeavour, especially when it involves discovering new places together. From charming beach retreats to cosy mountain hideaways, the world is full of romantic destinations. Here are some of the most enchanting top romantic getaways to consider for your next couple’s escape with your partner.

Santorini, Greece

With its whitewashed buildings, stunning sunsets, and crystal-clear waters, Santorini is the epitome of romance. This island in the Aegean Sea offers breath taking views from cliff-top villages like Oia and Fira. Couples can enjoy a sunset cruise, indulge in gourmet dining with a view, or simply relax on the volcanic beaches. The unique blend of natural beauty and luxurious accommodations makes Santorini a top choice for a romantic getaway.

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Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is a city of serene beauty, making it perfect for couples who appreciate culture and tranquillity. The city is renowned for its classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, and traditional wooden houses. Strolling through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or enjoying the cherry blossoms in Maruyama Park can be magical experiences. For an unforgettable evening, dine at a riverside restaurant in Pontocho, where you can savour traditional Kyoto cuisine.

Paris, France

No list of romantic destinations would be complete without mentioning Paris. Known as the “City of Love,” Paris is ideal for couples looking to immerse themselves in a city rich with history, art, and romance. From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the charming cafes of Montmartre, there is no shortage of romantic spots. Couples can enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the Seine, visit the Louvre, or simply enjoy a croissant at a sidewalk cafe.

Venice, Italy

Venice is a fairy-tale city built on water, offering a unique romantic experience. The best way to explore is by getting lost in its labyrinth of alleys and canals. A gondola ride through these waterways, under the stone-arched bridges, makes for an iconic romantic activity. Be sure to visit Piazza San Marco, enjoy a coffee at the historic Caffè Florian, and admire the stunning views from the top of the Campanile.

Banff, Canada

For couples who love the great outdoors, Banff National Park in Alberta is a perfect destination. The park offers some of the world’s most breath taking wilderness scenery. Couples can explore its numerous lakes, such as the famous Lake Louise, and enjoy activities like hiking, skiing, or relaxing in natural hot springs. Staying in a cosy cabin or a luxurious resort, Banff provides a wonderful mix of adventure and relaxation.

Maldives

The Maldives is synonymous with luxury romantic travel. This tropical paradise offers stunning overwater bungalows, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Couples can snorkel or dive among vibrant coral reefs, enjoy spa treatments, or simply relax on the private deck of their villa. The Maldives is ideal for those looking to escape to a secluded, intimate environment.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is a vibrant city that offers a mix of cultures, cuisines, and landscapes, making it an exciting destination for couples. You can visit the picturesque Cape Winelands, enjoy a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain, or explore the historic Robben Island. The city’s stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife also provide plenty of opportunities for romantic outings.

Florence, Italy

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a city that oozes romance through its art, architecture, and ambiance. Couples can explore the Uffizi Gallery to see some of the world’s most famous artworks, stroll through the Boboli Gardens, or climb to the top of the Duomo for spectacular city views. The charming streets of Florence are perfect for evening walks followed by a dinner featuring Tuscan cuisine.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is a dream destination for adventurous couples. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps, it’s known for its adventure sports and stunning scenery. Couples can enjoy bungee jumping, jet boating, or skiing, depending on the season. For a more relaxed experience, take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu or sample some of the excellent local wines.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, with its medieval architecture and picturesque canals, feels like a scene from a romantic movie. Couples can explore the city on a canal boat tour, sample Belgian chocolates and waffles, or simply wander through cobbled streets and market squares. The peaceful atmosphere of Bruges makes it a perfect getaway for couples seeking a slower-paced vacation.

Conclusion

Choosing the right destination can turn a simple holiday into an unforgettable romantic journey. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, culture, or just a change of scenery, these destinations offer a wealth of experiences that can cater to any couple’s interests. Remember, the most important part is enjoying the time spent with each other, discovering new places, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

 

For more travel news, click here.

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Lismore News

Saffin secures one-off grant for Thistles’ shower cubicles project

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Thistles Soccer Club shower cubicles

Saffin secures one-off grant for Thistles’ shower cubicles project

 

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has helped secure a one-off grant towards Lismore Thistles Soccer Club Incorporated’s project to construct and install six lockable shower cubicles at its East Lismore clubhouse.

Ms Saffin, who championed the club’s priority project, thanked NSW Minister for Sport Steve Kamper MP for approving the $15,710 (ex GST) grant under the NSW Government’s 2023-24 Project Support Program recently.

Ms Saffin said Thistles would engage a local contractor to build the six cubicles – three for home teams and three for away or visiting teams – promoting safe and diverse participation for girls and women.

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“The fact that the club owns this site rather than leases it from Lismore City Council has meant they do not qualify for infrastructure repairs or rebuilds under normal disaster funding arrangements,” Ms Saffin said.

“Thistles is a very proactive club but having its clubhouse and fields located in a low-lying area, has meant that it has had to wear the costs of fixing damage caused by the devastating floods of February and March 2022.

“This is one of those small sporting infrastructure projects which will make a big difference to players.

“I thank club officials for their innovative and inclusive approach, particularly Grants Officer Dr Pascal Scherrer.”

Lismore Thistles Soccer Club President Tina Cotroneo said: “This grant is going to make such a difference for players having their own space to shower and relax after a game in a more private environment!

“Our goal at Thistles is to provide a fun, safe and enjoyable sporting environment that encourages all members to reach their full potential.

“This grant supports our efforts to encourage inclusion, provide a safe sporting environment and foster the growing participation of women and girls in football.

“Thank you again to all involved in the process.”

 

For more sports news, click here.

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