IT'S a Queenslander where hobby, cane and cattle farmers feel at home to bring weeds and native plants from their paddock to find out what they are.
Sarina Landcare Catchment Management Association (SLCMA) has been in operation for the past 10 years and is a not-for-profit organisation that works with the community to help protect the natural environment within the Sarina catchment.
The SLCMA is run by regional Landcare facilitator and Reef Catchments' catchment co-ordinator Saskia von Fahland, administration officer Nadine Hamill and project officer Margaret Meng.
We have farmers who bring in weeds and native plants from their paddock and ask 'what is this?'.
"What we do is work with the community to try and encourage sustainable resource management, so helping people to look after their land or their natural areas such as creek beds and waterways," Ms von Fahland said.
"As well as their managed land such as pastures, to improve water quality and biodiversity."
Ms von Fahland said there was a real need for the SLCMA in the Sarina and Mackay areas because they were close to the reef.
"It is a really short catchment so what ends up in the land ends up in the ocean quite quickly," Ms von Fahland said.
"In other areas, we are getting more hobby farms; collectively, they take up a huge amount of land.
"Individually, they are quite small but if we work with these guys to manage their land better, we will have more benefits for water quality and biodiversity."
Hobby farms are for people who live on land from two to 20 acres.
"I am a proud hobby farmer," Ms von Fahland said. "A lot of hobby farmers do it for leisure; they may have a pet cow or some horses and a garden. They are not production-based."
"They are often landholders who have not come from the land and aren't really sure what to do but are more receptive to learning."
She said part of the role of SLCMA was visiting properties where they could provide advice and write up land management programs. They also have native plant and wildlife initiatives; a community nursery and garden; volunteer programs; coastal management; and weed control.
"We have farmers who bring in weeds and native plants from their paddock and ask 'what is this?'," she said.
Sometimes the team obtains an odd leaf that they and local botanists are not sure of and which is then sent to the Queensland Herbarium for identification.
Ms von Fahland said this also helped with their database and where certain plants and weeds grew.
Along with their 280 members, SLCMA also runs workshops, activity days at schools and works closely with BMA, Reef Catchments, local business, community groups and Mackay Regional Council.
"We have a partnership with the Sarina Rural Skills Centre, which is within Sarina State High school agricultural centre, where we work with them on water quality monitoring and educational activities," Ms von Fahland said.
Most of their questions were about weeds and about what they are doing on the land and if their activities are going to have an impact on water quality and biodiversity.
"That is good, that people are actually thinking about that," she said.
"Other questions are about soil run-off and erosion on creek banks.
"Production-based properties, with more horses and cows, try to manage their land more sustainable.
"People are starting to connect their property with the whole catchment.
"They are more aware that what they do on their property affects nature."
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