President's letter

Published 07/05/17

THE IFFA committee has been busy pursuing the interests and values of its members, with activities, advocacy and plans for the future. 

Scarcely three months after the Little Desert Camp, we ran the Alpine Adventure in January 2017, which you will read about in this issue. The flora, fauna, landscape, people, good times and perfect weather made the Alpine Adventure a really memorable experience. The committee is planning for a similar excursion, and if you’ve missed out on the previous trips, keep the long weekend of the 2017 Grand Final free. Lots of other activities have been happening and are planned.

Look on page 11 for the new ‘Activities’ column to find out more. IFFA has always had a very important advocacy role and a proud tradition of facilitating positive change. The committee has had plenty to do in that regard over the past year, with state government reviews of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the Biodiversity Strategy and the planning controls over removal of native vegetation.

We’ve made detailed submissions on them all and I see evidence that the submissions have led to important changes in the government position. The submissions should all be available on the new IFFA website by the time you read this. The only one of the government reviews which is complete is for the Biodiversity Strategy, which has just been replaced by a quite innovative document called ‘Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037’. It represents a strong shift toward seeing the importance of nature to our health, wellbeing and quality of life. It’s backed up by a new ‘Victorian Memorandum for Health and Nature’, in which the state ministers for Health and for the Environment pledge to ‘ensure that we can maximise the physical and mental health benefits to all Victorians of spending time in, enjoying and actively caring for the environment’. This is wonderful news for IFFA, which has been promoting and supporting such a recognition for many years. I will be seeking collaboration between the state government and IFFA for practical projects to give effect to the new policy direction. As with any other matters, please contact me (president@iffa.org.au or ring 9876 6415) if you have an idea for a project or you would like to get involved. 

Sadly, the importance of nature to our health and wellbeing has been ignored in the currently available documentation for the reviews of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and the planning controls over removal of native vegetation. 

On another matter, IFFA (and particularly John Loschiavo) have been very busy establishing a new group within IFFA called the Biodiversity Managers Network. It brings together people like rangers and bush crew members who conduct or organise on-ground work for nature conservation. An online survey has determined that there is a real demand for such a group and we’re keen to make it work. The first big event for the Network was a ‘Forum on Planning and Monitoring for Biodiversity Management’ on 4th May 2017, with a focus on determining how best to plan on-ground work and assess its effectiveness. The forum booked out in no time and received rave reviews. You can expect to hear more about it and things flowing from it. 

We’re also working on how IFFA presents itself. This issue of Indigenotes unveils our new logo. We’ve substantially updated IFFA’s online profile and services, including a new website (thanks particularly to Craig Allen), our Facebook page (thanks to Amanda Dodd) and a new Flickr group for sharing photographs. 

As always, we welcome your feedback and contributions. 

— Dr Graeme Lorimer