Speirs to introduce new environment bill for SA

NRM reform closer with Landscape SA bill to be tabled


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After months of consultation, the state government is a step closer to delivering on its election promise to reform the management of SA's natural resources. It is believed the new Landscape SA bill will be introduced to parliament next week by Environment Minister David Speirs.

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UNNECESSARY SPEND: Spalding farming consultant Ruth Sommerville, with son Tom, says re-branding the state's NRM department will be a costly process.

UNNECESSARY SPEND: Spalding farming consultant Ruth Sommerville, with son Tom, says re-branding the state's NRM department will be a costly process.

After months of consultation, the state government is a step closer to delivering on its election promise to reform the management of SA's natural resources.

It has vowed to spend a greater proportion of NRM levies in the regions and ensure regional communities have more say in decision-making.

Stock Journal understands the new Landscape SA bill will be introduced to parliament next week by Environment Minister David Speirs to replace the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.

“Landscape SA will completely reform the way we manage our natural resources in SA and replace Labor’s broken system," he said.

“I look forward to consulting with key stakeholders and local communities on the bill in the coming weeks and months.”

Primary Producers SA NRM chair Joe Keynes says the bill will set a simpler framework to "re-energise" NRM in SA and hopes it receives a smooth passage through parliament.

He says it is pleasing Mr Speirs has committed to cap levies at consumer price index levels to ensure efficient and effective programs.

"It (NRM) was in need of significant reform given there was a lot of disenfranchisement among producers across the state," he said.

"We see this as a positive step to re-engage with producers and ensure they are a key part of NRM decision-making and implementation."

But, Spalding farming and land management consultant Ruth Sommerville is more critical, not believing a complete overhaul and re-branding of the NRM system was necessary.

She also does not believe the proposal to hold elections for a portion of the board members in each region will improve the quality or diversity of applicants but will come at a significant cost.

"There are always areas that can be improved and I support decentralising administration and putting jobs back in the regions but the system was not broken," she said.

"Restructuring and re-branding is a costly process and creates huge upheaval in regional areas."

She believes their Northern and Yorke NRM region in particular was working well, with the amalgamated departments resulting in a central hub in Clare with NRM Board, Department of Environment and Water, Rural Solutions SA and farming systems groups all located in the same building.

This unity makes it easy to address land management issues and Ms Sommerville says it would be disappointing if this changed.

The priorities for the new Landscape SA, Ms Sommerville says, should remain pest and weeds, encouraging biodiversity both above and below the ground, water quality and health and promoting good soil health and regenerative agriculture.

'Farming systems groups, NRM boards, DEW and what becomes Landscape SA all have a huge role in promoting diversity and landscape resilience - whether it is a national park or farming land, biodiversity doesn't stop at a fence," she said.

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