PEOPLE with a passion for soil health converged in Canberra this week for the first meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Soil.
The Parliamentary Friends Group, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and MP Linda Burney, met ahead of tomorrow’s World Soil Day to acknowledge the importance of healthy soil as a natural resource and its contribution to Australia’s long-term economic, environmental and social wellbeing.
World Soil Day, held annually on 5 December, raises the profile of healthy soil by encouraging governments, organisations, communities and individuals to undertake activities that support soil health and sustainable management of soil resources.
Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for High Performance Soils chief executive officer Dr Michael Crawford said the Soil CRC was pleased to be supporting World Soil Day and the establishment of the Parliamentary Friends of Soil.
“It’s vital we have non-partisan support for the three peak bodies for soil – the Soil CRC, Soil Science Australia and Soils For Life – to bring issues associated with soil health to the attention of politicians and policy makers,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for the Australian soil community to come together, and highlight that it all starts with the soil.
At the breakfast, parliamentarians got the chance to engage with farmers, scientists, industry groups and policy makers on issues relating to health and maintenance of Australia’s soils.
“The support we get from groups like this and individuals such as the National Soils Advocate, the Hon Penelope Wensley AC, leads to greater collaboration between industry and science,” Soil Science Australia president Professor Luke Mosley said.
“These types of relationships clear the pathway to adoption of new soil management technologies which will help us address challenges such as a hotter drier climate.
Soils For Life chief executive officer Dr Liz Clarke said having friendship group like this was something to celebrate this World Soil Day.
“This thin, living layer around our planet supports all life on land and stores carbon and water. This is an important opportunity to work together as a soil health community to address the critical status of soils,” she said.
“It’s vital we are all protecting and regenerating soils. After all, soil is a fundamental life-support system.”
The Parliamentary Friends of Soil is made up of 10 MPs:
- Michael McCormack (co-Chair) – Riverina NSW
- Linda Burney (co-Chair) – Barton NSW
- Meryl Swanson MP – Paterson NSW
- James McGrath – Senate Qld
- Hollie Hughes – Senate NSW
- Ken O’Dowd – Flynn Qld
- Susan McDonald – Senate Qld
- Tony Pasin – Barker SA
- Kevin Hogan – Page NSW
- Rick Wilson – O’Connor WA.
The group was formed as a result of collaborations between the Soil CRC, Soil Science Australia and Soils For Life with support from the National Soils Advocate.
World Soil Day facts:
- Soil is a living resource, home to more than 25 per cent of our planet’s biodiversity.
- It is estimated that only 1pc of soil microorganism species are currently known compared to 80pc of plant species.
- Up to 90pc of living organisms live or spend part of their lifecycle in soils.
- Soil organisms can break down certain contaminants.
Source: Soil CRC
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