Next year could be 'year of reckoning' for drought-stricken communities, warns consultant

Farming Revolution : Dubbo's Mark Gardner (left) with Dripstone farmers Scott and Anna Brien. Photo: Farren Hotham.
Farming Revolution : Dubbo's Mark Gardner (left) with Dripstone farmers Scott and Anna Brien. Photo: Farren Hotham.

...this will be the year where it starts to really bring to a head some of the impacts of the climate we're experiencing.

Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner, a farm and land management consultant at Vanguard, has witnessed the effects of the drought on the Central West landscape and doesn't see much good news in the near future, with a 'year of reckoning' on the way.

"I think it's probably another year on top of the terrible year last year, so I think for a lot of people they've just hung on, but this will be the year where it starts to really bring to a head some of the impacts of the climate we're experiencing," Mr Gardner said.

Mr Gardner welcomed the Bush Summit featuring the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader but wanted more consideration devoted to the underlying causes of the drought.

"I think the Bush summit is a great idea, it's awesome for folks like the Prime Minister to come out, but it's important for him to listen to the quiet voices, not just the loud voices," Mr Gardner said.

"I think it's important that these summits try and understand some of the causes of what we're seeing."

"The problems that we're seeing are self-evident, but it's important that causes, like, the climate change, are identified and we have a plan for that."

Mr Gardner also noted that many of the techniques to lessen the impact of the drought he'd like to see considered by those in charge are already being used successfully by farmers in the Central West.

"Farmers out here have been adapting their production techniques to a changing landscape for a long period of time, one of those concepts is regenerative agriculture, which takes into account not just the economics but also the social and ecological impacts of production," Mr Gardner said.

"We have to entertain these alternatives like regenerative agriculture and a low-carbon economy and we need to not see that as a negative, but to start to focus on a future that we want, rather than the past we have."

"At the moment, we have different levels of government doing good things and different organisations doing good things, but they don't work well together."

"What we need to think about for our region is how we want the region to look for our children's children, what is the ecological foundation for that."

This story 'Year of reckoning' coming first appeared on Western Magazine.