Restoring Earth

A new grassroots documentary called ‘Restoring Earth,’ which highlights the interdependent relationship between healthy native vegetation and healthy food, will screen this Tuesday, April 5, at Byron Bay’s Stone & Wood Brewing.

Produced and directed by Danielle Ryan and James Sherwood from Bluebottle Films, the doco shines the spotlight on the current conflict over old native vegetation laws and the NSW Government’s controversial plan to transition to a new Draft Bill, the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Expected to be released for public consultation next month, it has the potential to open the floodgates for broad scale land clearing across the state.

“The management of waterways, trees and ecosystems on your farm is really important to the viability of your farm,” said co-founder of Brookfarm Pam Brook. “Whether you live in Inverell, Tasmania, or in Victoria, we have such common bonds about the way we farm: trees are essential, water is essential and a natural and sustainable approach to farming is really essential.”

“Since 1989, we’ve planted over 35,000 rainforest and eucalypt trees and we’ve gone from being a weed-infested, denuded, rundown dairy farm… [to] this idyllic rainforest setting with the sound of birds. It’s beautiful.”

Australia ranks #3 among developed nations for the worst land clearing rates globally

Cattle farmer and farm manager Glenn Morris from FigTrees Organic Farms, which is located in Grafton and Inverell, believes more and more people are looking to know where their food comes from.

“I am proud for my story to be a part of this documentary alongside many other farmers working really well in harmony with the landscape,” he said. “Instead of clearing the land, I’ve been replanting trees and nature is rewarding me with healthier soil and has helped to get the water cycle going again – which is fundamental, if you want to increase stock numbers.”

Former chair of the NSW Farmers’ Young Farmers Council Josh Gilbert said the State Government’s reforms need to better consider how farmers can profit from effective native vegetation policy.

“The farmers involved in the Stewardship Program over the box gum grassy woodland areas are already seeing the benefits of such concepts in exchange for caring for these critically endangered areas,” he explained. “There is a wealth of opportunities here for farmers to remain profitable, while enriching their mental health, family life and rural communities in which they live.

“Globally, we know these sorts of programs work,” Josh continued. “Australia has traditionally been at the forefront of agricultural innovation, and this is no different. But, if we allow the reforms to pass as stated in the NSW Farmers Association’s policy, this has the potential to exacerbate drought, erosion, salinity and numerous issues with which farmers already struggle with.”

Charlotte Richardson from The Wilderness Society said her charity recognises we need to make a change, build relationships with country folk, bridge the divide between all groups and find some common ground.

“I have travelled with Bluebottle Films to meet with farmers so that we can figure out how we can work together towards some meaningful alternatives to broad scale land clearing, which benefit both farmers and the environment,” she said. “Almost 90 percent of New South Wales is private land so it is no wonder farmers feel the burden of conservation on their shoulders.”

Prior to the last State election in March 2015, the Government promised the NSW Farmers Association it would repeal the Native Vegetation Act and replace it with a new law, the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“Last time we brought a film to Stone & Wood, we attracted a crowd of hundreds of people, who helped us to successfully lift amnesties on a number of NSW’s beautiful marine sanctuary areas,” Charlotte recalled. “Byron is known for its energy and resilience in bringing groups together from all sorts of life to preserve our natural world. So, I am confident that Byron’s farmers and its nature-loving community can do it, again.”

Reserve your free ticket for Restoring Earth now at Eventbrite

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