President’s letter

A reflection upon thirty years of IFFAPublished 07/02/17

SINCE the last issue of Indigenotes, I realised that 2016 was IFFA’s thirtieth anniversary. I think that’s a good milestone to reflect upon what has happened since I and many others attended that first meeting at Burnley College in 1986. 

I think IFFA has a very good record of facilitating positive changes and helping people appreciate the flora and fauna that are our natural heritage. There are many examples such as fostering the first indigenous nurseries and successfully campaigning for the introduction of the original Victorian town planning controls over removal of native vegetation. 

Perhaps the best example has been IFFA’s pivotal role in developing and promoting the concept that locally indigenous species deserve to be valued as such. Before IFFA, there was plenty of appreciation of plants and animals for being ‘Australian natives’ without any regard to whether they were in their natural habitat. For example, revegetation was popular in Australia and usually involved species being planted hundreds of kilometres outside their natural ranges. Now, there is wide recognition of the greater value of indigenous species and the communities they form. 

Interestingly, I see that the concept of indigenous provenance that IFFA did so much to develop is being challenged lately by some people motivated to broaden genetic diversity. IFFA dealt with those issues in forums and Indigenotes articles 25-30 years ago and it’s time to do so again. 

The values that IFFA initially placed on indigeneity have developed over the decades. In the past, the emphasis was on the practical and intrinsic values of indigenous flora and fauna. In the last few years, there has been increasing recognition that people’s health, wellbeing and quality of life benefit greatly from connection with nature. We now have a role in exploring and promoting the special role that indigenous species play in providing people with authentic experiences of connecting with our natural heritage. We mustn’t ignore the consequences of society becoming disconnected from nature at the same time as it needs to commit to action on climate change and other environmental assaults. 

Thirty years ago, I was in my twenties and about average in age for an IFFA member of the time. The average age today is much older and our membership is much smaller than the peak of over 1,000 members in the 1990s. I would love to receive suggestions for how IFFA could attract more young people. 

I am pleased to say that the IFFA committee is still experiencing a healthy turnover of talented, delightful people. The new committee elected at the Annual General Meeting on 1/10/16 is listed on page 10. I’d particularly like to welcome and thank new members Martha Ragg, Warren Tomlinson, Joab Wilson and Rebeccah Penrose. 

The committee would love your help, e.g. by writing Indigenotes articles, presenting talks, organising others to be speakers or assisting the logistics of our activities. 

– Dr Graeme Lorimer