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Projects and programs

Each financial year an Annual Investment Plan is developed to outline planned programs and outputs for implementation against our Strategic Plan whilst meeting the needs of our investors and guiding documentation.

The plan guides reporting, budgeting, project implementation and the development of individual employee personal development plans whilst identifying strategic outcomes for the operational areas of land services, biosecurity and emergency management, strategic and corporate services for a 12 month period.

One aspect of the planning cycle is the development of multi-year programs which are implemented through sub projects.

The following provides an overview of programs within each lead functional area:

Land services

Ramsar and significant wetland enhancement

This project will focus on the improvement of native vegetation condition for communities such as common reed tall grassland, water couch grassland and lignum shrubland with a particular focus on the Lake Cowal regionally significant wetland and the Ramsar site, Macquarie Marshes. These semi-permanent vegetation communities provide vital habitat for breeding water birds but are degraded considerably through the impacts of feral pigs. Rooting behaviour of feral pigs causes disturbance to the water’s edge leading to the removal of vegetation, anaerobic conditions and sediment mobility affecting water quality. Erosion is also a result of this rooting behaviour.

Project works will include pest and weed management activities and site protection actions such as strategic fencing and planting, prioritised to sites on private land which facilitate connectivity between areas of native vegetation and prioritised threatened species habitat.  This will also involve collaboration with the Environmental Water Team of Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to ensure these activities align with the Long Term Environmental Watering Plan for the Macquarie Marshes.

Project development will include extensive liaison with OEH staff, utilising the large volume of scientific work already undertaken by OEH and others to deliver appropriate activities that meet objectives of the Macquarie Marshes Adaptive Environmental Management Plan and complimenting outcomes achieved by community groups such as Riversmart. The project will also include liaison with the Lake Cowal Conservation Centre and Evolution Gold via the Lake Cowal Plan of Management and neighbouring landholders.

Conserving our habitats

This project will increase area and condition of regionally significant species and threatened ecological communities whilst increasing landholder participation and understanding of on-farm biodiversity. 850 hectares of private land will be managed for connectivity in vegetation communities such as red stringybark, mugga ironbark, box-gum grassy woodlands, fuzzy box grassy woodland and inland grey box woodland. These communities are habitat for assisting movements of known koala and bat populations within the Central West, and landscape species including superb parrot, swift parrot, regent honeyeater and red-tailed black cockatoo. Actions delivered will include revegetation, conservation fencing and threat abatement to reduce impacts on landscape scale threatened species. Additional works will focus on minimising impacts of pest vertebrate predators (foxes) on iconic species, (Malleefowl) through the engagement of landholders surrounding the Goonoo forest covering an area of 40,000ha. This program will support the intent of the fox abatement plan for the Goonoo, which has a primary focus of protecting Malleefowl.

Native vegetation management

This project will deliver landscape scale species protection through the implementation of Native Vegetation Act 2003 through the assessment of sites for vegetation management outcomes. Central West Local Land Services handles over 50% of Code enquiries for NSW and almost 20% of the property vegetation plan (PVP) cases.
Historically some regions have had higher demand for clearing approvals. This has been due to much of the landscape being largely undeveloped for agricultural purposes, and with large areas of invasive native scrub, as well these landscapes having high potential as productive grazing and cropping land due to improvements in the technology within farming systems. The Central West region is an example of such a landscape and has NSW State locations known as 'hot spots' for clearing activity.

The Central West region has been under resourced in relation to this demand for a number of years leading to an extensive list of landholders waiting for periods of up to three years for approval through the PVP process. As of 31 March 2016, Central West Local Land Services has 77 PVP expressions of interest in various stages of assessment.
In the Central West Local Land Services there are highly skilled and experienced staff assessing and negotiating PVPs as well as other staff being mentored in these functions. These staff are funded from recurrent, Biodiversity funds as well as Catchment Action NSW. Though 29 approved PVPs were finalised in 2015, Central West Local Land Services has not effectively been able to reduce the waiting list to an acceptable level due to the continued high enquiry rate.

In addition to the historical high PVP workload, the introduction of the self-assessable codes in November 2014 has increased the number of enquiries and requests for site visits and assistance. To the end of March 2016, the Central West region has received 178 notifications and in excess of 200 enquiries regarding the self-assessable codes. These numbers equate to 50% of all notifications submitted in the State.

Travelling Stock Route (TSR) management and enhancement

Approximately 106,000 ha of travelling stock reserves (TSRs) are managed by Central West Local Land Services. Historically TSRs were primarily used and managed for the movement of stock and for emergency fodder. Management and uses of TSRs has changed over time and they are now recognised for their conservation value, as remnant vegetation in predominately cleared landscapes, connectivity values, as areas containing high conservation value vegetation types or fauna populations and as places of cultural significance for Aboriginal people.

There are many challenges for the management of TSRs. Their linear shapes make them vulnerable to weed and pest incursions. This project will prioritise weed and pest control for both noxious and environmental weeds that threaten the integrity of medium and high conservation vegetation types. This project will link with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Protection and Preservation project to work with Aboriginal community members to implement traditional burns in appropriate areas, encouraging Aboriginal people back onto country to undertake cultural practices to enhance the vegetation with fire. This is a demonstrated tool for weed management, pest harbour reduction and vegetation enhancement including species diversity. TSRs are known sites for European and Aboriginal cultural heritage sites and values. The links between these two projects will also look to preserve these assets on TSRs across the region.

Illegal activities such as firewood collection, motorbike riding and rubbish dumping, cause damage to the vegetation communities on TSRs. Firewood collection results in damaged vegetation and removal of native habitat, whilst rubbish dumping encourages weeds and pests onto TSRs. Both of these activities are concentrated closer to urban areas. Riding of motorbikes leads to formation of tracks and degradation or clearing of groundcover and understorey species whilst contributing to erosion potential.

Project investment from CANSW will contribute towards targeted weed management on TSRs identified as high conservation value within Office of Environment and Heritage TSR Conservation Values data set 2010 to contribute towards the enhancement of condition of native vegetation, improving habitat for priority species.
Core aims of the TSR project are summarised as:

  • To optimise usage of TSRs by providing adequate facilities for stock ie. Watering points, fencing, holding yards etc and to enhance and protect the natural resources on TSRs.
  • To protect and enhance the significant vegetation asset present on TSRs whilst generating income through sustainable grazing.
  • To minimise the impact of pest animals and insects on TSRs including land degradation, losses to productivity and threatened species.
  • To provide safe and secure refugia in times of emergency
  • To maintain Central West Local Land Services TSRs free of stock diseases
  • To conserve known sites of European and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Significance that occur on TSRs
  • To protect the natural and manmade assets on TSRs

Pasture legumes in the mixed farming zone

This project will continue to work with Murdoch University, The Graham Centre and Charles Sturt University to establish a network of farmers across the region for best practice in pasture management.  The project is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation and is the extension component of this long standing research project, involving some work on trial sites and resultant field days, media etc.  This project also involves co-operation with Central Tablelands and Riverina Local Land Services regions.
Enhanced drought Information Systems

The EDIS project utilises Local Land Services agricultural advisory staff in helping to process ground truthing data used in seasonal conditions reporting by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). In 2016/17 Central West Local Land Services staff will maintain contact with the EDIS project team and be available for limited additional work.  This project allows the strengthening of the relationship with NSW DPI and ensures that Central West Local Land Services is in touch with developments in this project and any implications for extension and advisory services.

Professional sheep systems project

The Professional Sheep Systems project continues in the quest to improve the professionalism of sheep producers in the Central West Region.  The concept behind this project is that livestock producers have yet to reach the level of professionalism achieved by cropping farmers and Central West Local Land Services  has a role to improve this through extension and advisory services.  This project is delivered in conjunction with partners such as the Lachlan Valley Lamb network, SheepConnect NSW, Central West Farming Systems and NSW DPI.

Dual purpose cropping and soil plant available water

This project will maintain contact with NSW DPI and the Grain Orana Alliance, in order to extend information regarding dual purpose cropping trials in the Central West Region. The project will continue to work with CSIRO in its program with producers on soil water characterisation, with 2016/17 seeing final workshops scheduled for locations across the north of the region.  This soils based project will also finalise the soils mapping for the region in conjunction with the Soil Knowledge Network and deliver extension on this map and its associated best management practice guide.

Agricultural advisory awareness and agriculture partnerships

Central West Local Land Services recognises the need to deliver extension and advisory services in a variety of ways to ensure that the maximum numbers of producers are able to access the latest information on farm management.  With this in mind in 2015/16 the team worked with a communications consultant to refine communications techniques and in addition established a system by which podcasts and webinars could be developed with agricultural advisory staff and associated expertise on a variety of seasonal topics.  2016/17 will see the roll out of these.

Each team member will continue to have a social media presence and will contribute monthly articles ot the e-newsletter and general media.  The team will also work with biosecurity to have a role in on-farm surveillance as part of their normal duties and will continue to have agricultural production advice input into other products and field days delivered by Central West Local Land Services. The team will also work closely with the Livestock and Grains Biosecurity networks to establish and trial a Biosecurity Farm Planning short course to build capacity for producers in dealing with the changes to the Biosecurity Act and its application on farm.

Soils rangelands management

The program will provide landholders with technical knowledge and practical support on ways to rehabilitate severely degraded semi-arid landscapes soils as well as building the capacity of landholders to manage these landscapes into the future.

Central West Local Land Services will provide technical information and advice on earthwork construction and revegetation to increase the perennial herbage mass, increase soil carbon and native ground cover of the scalded components of the Bugwah Downstream Soil-Landscape unit and the hard red soils of the Cobar peneplain.

Soils kits and pits

The Soil Kits and Pits project will increase knowledge and understanding of agricultural soil health issues relevant to landholders, increase landholder capacity to manage the soil health issues, and implement a sustainable soil health monitoring program on their properties.  The project will deliver training to farmers in soil testing, and provide them with the physical tools to implement a soil testing and monitoring program for their properties.

Unearthing soil potential - Hydrogeological landscapes

Soil and landscape management has been a focus of the central west for over 20 years with many innovative programs and projects relevant to the region, state and nation undertaken.  An innovative project to address land capability with a focus on salinity management was successfully undertaken in the Goolma region in 2008/09. Staff from the Central West CMA, Department Environment and Climate Change (DECC) and Department Primary Industries operated as a core integrated team which undertook awareness raising activities, capacity building activities and on ground works to implement changes to the landscape management of that area.

Central West Local Land Services, in partnership with DPI and Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) completed Hydrogeological Mapping for the majority Central West region with the exception of the Lachlan and Warrumbungle Shires and the Parkes, Forbes and Weddin Shires which is at a draft stage. This mapping is at 1:250,000 scale and ties together the relationships between soil type, groundwater flow systems, salinity hazard landscapes and land capability.

Unearthing Soil Potential will include the development of a region wide Hydrogeological Landscapes (HGL) map, capacity building, data collection, awareness raising, land planning and on ground works. This project will focus on delivering comprehensive training and advice to land holders in the interpretation of the HGL mapping and the application of this information in the management of their land and water resources. It will assist local landholders in understanding their landscapes and better enable them to make informed management decisions. The project is designed to focus resources into priority areas to achieve maximum people change in order to deliver on-ground change.

Innovation and technology in agriculture

Adoption of innovation and technology in agricultural systems can assist farming enterprises become more sustainable, economically and environmentally. There are many factors that influence the uptake of innovation, technology and decision making tools in agriculture, such as the age of the farmer, understanding of computer based applications, start-up costs and enterprise dynamics.

This project involves increasing awareness, knowledge and skills and the capacity for central west landholders to adopt innovation and technology in agriculture and apply it to their enterprises.

This financial year the program will build on work previously undertaken to raise awareness of various forms of technology on farm in conjunction with partners such as Charles Sturt University (CSU), the Graham Centre, Regional Development Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Central West Farming Systems to facilitate on ground adoption of technology on farm.

Biosecurity and emergency management

Animal biosecurity and welfare

The Animal Biosecurity & Welfare Program will deliver towards the outcomes of the Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Business Plan as developed in partnership with Department Primary Industries. The program aims to reduce the impact of animal biosecurity and welfare issues on landholders, the economy, environment and community by concentrating on the following priorities:

  • Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) surveillance, management and eradication.
  • Control and containment of priority animal diseases already established in NSW.
  • Surveillance for diseases and residues to underpin market access.
  • Have a role in tracing and identification systems to reduce the impact of disease outbreaks and food safety incidents and improve market access for NSW livestock and products
  • Support animal welfare programs that protect the welfare of animals and meet market and community requirements.
  • Protection of consumers and the community from residue or contaminant risks in livestock production, and significant risks to human health from animal disease (i.e. zoonosis).

2016/17 will see Central West Local Land Services focus on the implementation of extension and advisory services which:

  • Improve biosecurity, with a priority towards key high risk groups.
  • Protect the footrot status of NSW by maintaining a prevalence of less than 1% in flocks of 50 or more sheep.
  • Support locally relevant field research projects.
  • Maintain on farm surveillance to ensure freedom from disease and support market access.

Invasive species

Within NSW there are a number of invasive species plans which provide direction for the statutory requirements of Local Lands Service with relevance to all communities working in primary industries and natural resource management who have to make decisions about the impacts of invasive species, both pest animal and weeds.
2016-17 will see the implementation of coordinated projects funded through the Drought Pest and Weed Funding across the Central West Local Land Services region which will provide significant investment to the region. Staff will be monitoring successful projects that include:

  • Exclusion fencing to control feral pigs, kangaroos and feral deer that will allow enhanced management of pastures and native grasses.
  • Restricted water access to pest species in fragile landscapes where pasture management has been supported by water ponding and reseeding techniques.
  • Widespread control of specific weeds within communities with an integrated process of pasture management, spraying and exclusion fencing.
  • Extension of existing wild dog management training skills for land managers.

These investment projects will build on the existing annual strategically coordinated programs such as fox baiting and pig groups. There are continued resources being allocated to priority pest species across locations where identified biosecurity risks and impacts exist. New groups established for pig control in the south of the region are being supported to achieve short term results for pest management outcomes. The main focus in all areas of Central West Local Land Services is for the development of long term and coordinated programs that provide benefits for environmental and agricultural outcomes, cover a multitude of home ranges of pest species and  build capacity for land managers in the management of pest species.

Fox baiting programs will be provided to include all parts of the business with system wide benefits and a push to a more integrated approach to pest management, weed control, natural resource management and recognition of cultural and heritage stakes across our communities. In particular work will be extended with landholder groups surrounding the Goonoo Conservation Area to mitigate the production impacts of wild dogs and foxes whilst reducing threats to threatened species such as Malleefowl. Wild dogs are an emerging pest species in areas of Coolah, Leadville, Mendooran and Euchareena where high risk pathways have been identified and intervention has become necessary. Collaboration and strategic planning of ongoing control programs with adjoining Local Land Services and land managers will continue using best practices.

Emergency management

Central West Local Land Services maintains a high level of emergency management trained staff who are capable of providing skills and resources to incidents and emergency events across the state. Our primary focus is to have the capacity to be able to effectively resource emergency events as they occur within our region and provide this support as required to events outside Central West Local Land Services. This support from Central West Local Land Services contributes to many areas of emergency management where education to land managers with practical skills for  ‘on farm’ prevention and preparedness can reduce impacts, improve farm assets and greatly improve the recovery phase of an emergency event.

For 2016/17 there will be continued training and emergency scenarios carried out  within Central West Local Land Services and  across existing Local Land Services boundaries. These will address preparedness skills required for Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) events such as swine flu, foot and mouth disease, surveillance and risk management. Events such as plague locust campaigns within Central West Local Land Services are not predicted for the coming season however staff training remains essential as these skills are universal and may be required to effectively manage flood or fire events within a Local Control Centre.

Existing partnerships with Police,  Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Area (AAFSA),  Rural Fire Service (RFS), State Emergency Services (SES) operate under the NSW DPI Emergency Management Plan and staff may be recalled to work through management in the event of a sizable EAD response within NSW or nationally.

Strategic land services

Aboriginal cultural heritage protection and preservation

The project will build on previous investment and build Aboriginal capacity surrounding traditional land management whilst also implementing on ground works and traditional practices to achieve cultural and environmental outcomes. Practices will include bush regeneration, fire management (traditional burning) and site identification and protection (in consultation with the Heritage Division of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and local Aboriginal communities).

Central West communities and staff will work across boundaries with other Local Land Services regions, OEH officers and Rural Fire Service personnel to address the identification and protection of cultural heritage.
Works will be conducted on private land and travelling stock reserves (TSRs).

Capacity of Aboriginal people in natural resource planning will be enhanced including in identification and mapping of significant cultural landscapes. Local community members who have site identification training will assist Local Land Services officers to work with interested landholders to undertake Cultural Heritage assessments and subsequent protection on private lands.

Connected landscapes (jointly delivered with land services)

This project will be developed in partnership with OEH North regional staff. Focus will be on implementing on ground actions in accordance with Saving our Species and agreed biodiversity priorities of Central West Local Land Services and OEH North Branch.

Central West Local Land Services has invested in riparian habitat mapping for the region. This mapping has identified specific physical riverine features relating to river health along identified reaches of the regulated Lachlan river and defines priorities for investment, protection and enhancement. The mapping provides natural resource managers with a guide for rehabilitation, protection and enhancement measures along the river, including immediate and emerging threats to priority reaches within the region. This mapping will be used in conjunction with OEH mapping to identify priority locations and actions for investment.

Central West Local Land Services has solid on ground delivery partnerships with both Landcare and Local Government and will look to formulate a delivery program which capitalises on these relationships. Priority areas of investment are likely to include - implementation of agreed on ground activities to support the Saving our Species program intent, increase of condition and extent of native vegetation within priority landscapes and protection and enhancement of priority riparian reaches. This project will be implemented utilising the extensive stakeholder network of Central West Local Land Services including implementation on private lands and is likely to include actions such as strategic plantings for improved habitat connectivity, strategic fencing to enhance riparian habitat restoration and regeneration and community monitoring programs to encourage community ownership and contribution towards long term outcomes.

Collaborative delivery

The Local Land Services Act 2013, Section 33 outlines the requirements for Local Land Services to establish one or more community advisory groups, consisting of suitably qualified people who are representative of the local community and stakeholders of the region. The Community Advisory Groups provide a direct link between community representatives and Board members to seek advice and respond to this request in regard to Local Land Services business. This ensures that Local Land Services business is adaptable and therefore meeting the community’s needs and assisting Local land Services to meet it targets outlined in the Central West Local Lands Services Local Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

In 2016/17 Central West Local Land Services will continue to support three community advisory groups covering natural resource management, agriculture and industry and Aboriginal.

In addition to the above advisory groups, Central West Local Land Services is also tasked with coordinating the Central West Regional Weed Committee. These committees have been established as a direct outcome from the Natural Resources Commission Weed Review 2014, which defined Local Land Services responsibility as creating a local statutory Regional Weed Committee, delivering regional strategic weed management plans, facilitating and coordinating regional strategic weed planning and assisting with education and community outreach programs.

In addition, the establishment of a Regional Weed Committee is a high priority for Local Land Services to support regional planning under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and to execute Weed Action Program funds. 2016/17 will focus on the development of Regional Weed Strategic plan which identifies priority weeds and actions for all stakeholders. These plans will provide the basis for eradication and containment strategies at various scales and ensure compliance obligations for weeds at the state and regional level.

The strategic branch will also continue working across key collaborators including Landcare and Local government. These groups will develop and implement projects which contribute towards the National Landcare Program and Catchment Action NSW. These partnerships deliver demonstrated outcomes against local strategic plans and provide integrated planning opportunities, strengthening natural resource management and sustainable agriculture outcomes across the region.

Communications

The program will continue to lift the profile of Local Land Services in the region and participate in cross regional activities which deliver on the Local Land Services Communication Strategy. The program will work across the business identifying opportunities for case studies and public relations activities. This program has strong ties to the Executive Support Unit and will continue to work towards regional and state objectives.
Central West Local Land Services will focus on

  • Developing target audience profiles and key messages for stakeholders
  • Improving access to digital learning or information tools
  • Implementing recommendations from the Natural Resource Commission’s Communications Audit
  • Identify and develop relevant communication activities and information that is guided by the needs of our customers and stakeholders consistent with Local Land Services’ business goals
  • Strengthen communications to support Local Land Services’ partnerships and effective engagement
  • Support issues and reputation management
  • Identifying opportunities for streamlined communication messages

Systems management, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER)

Monitoring, evaluation and reporting is a significant component of program implementation. There are intensive reporting requirements for investors surrounding financial and outcome or output based data. This program will focus on the alignment of Central West Local Land Services performance against the Local Land Services Performance and Improvement Framework.

Systems management includes spatial data and data management/project management platforms. A focus of 2016/17 will be to implement high functioning project management systems through IRIS as well as implement organisational wide accessibility improvements.

Staff are actively participating in cross regional teams to improve usability and establish consistent approaches to system use and reporting.

2016/17 will look to review the program resources to increase organisational capacity to complete strategic evaluations and increase inclusivity of MER across the business, as well as being heavily involved in the Organisational Planning phase to collate and analyse data to assist in priority setting for the region.

Organisational planning

In 2016/17 organisational planning will focus on developing a three year Business Plan. This program will be delivered in three phases. Phase one involves collation of evidence. This process will bring together datasets for the Central West Region which will assist in spatial identification of priority areas. It will also include the introduction of evidence to allow a systems approach to planning and prioritisation.

Phase Two will work with staff, community advisory groups and stakeholders to test the evidence include social data into the priority base and discuss strategies and actions to meet the needs of the region.

Phase Three will be the culmination of all of the information into a three year business plan. It will allow for a targeted approach to investment, partnerships and stakeholder engagement.

In addition to the three year Business Plan operational planning will continue with a focus on extending the organisation's planning and reporting capacity. This ongoing role provides encouragement for proactive planning and preparedness sets clear collaborative direction and welcomes integration across our business and stakeholders.

Corporate Services

Finance

For 2016/17 the finance team will budget to return a zero balance nett cost of service, that is revenue and expenditure are equal. This involves careful budget forecasting of salaries, office accommodation, IT and phones, vehicles and project expenditure such as incentive grant payments and contractors. The Statement of Financial Performance will be reported monthly to the Board and Management and project expenditure reports will be undertaken each week. The team will develop asset plans for capital purchases over $5,000.

Customer service

The Customer Service Team are dedicated to updating and maintaining accurate records management in a variety of databases. This involves processing land transfers and ownerships, Property Identification Codes, Brands and Marks, permit fees and charges, NLIS and other database records. They also process financial transactions such as cash, cheque and EFT payments relating to rates, baits, permits and debt management and recovery. In 2016/17 the unit targets to receive 95% of all invoices processed.

Corporate support

The business and finance team provide a suite of internal services to staff to support and minimise staff time spent on processes. This includes maintaining office accommodation, phones systems, mobile phones, computers, off site storage. The unit also coordinates the vehicles and fleet trailers, ATVs and other equipment. In 2016/17 40% of vehicles are due for replacement. There are no plans for office moves in 2016/17.

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