The Gillamii Centre Inc. (further referred to as The Gillamii) held its first meetings in 1994, with local farmers believing that there was a need for a community based centre to promote and streamline land care management. The Gillamii Centre was named after local resident, Mr Alf Gillam, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his work in conservation. In 1996 the centre was supported by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA moving an officer into the centre.
Located in Cranbrook Western Australia, the centre offers a range of services to a wide geographical area. The Gillamii Centre is run by a management committee with representatives from a broad cross section of the community and also includes representatives from local government, South Coast NRM, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and members of the communities of the Gillamii Centre service area.
The area serviced by the Gillamii Centre is on the northern edge of the Stirling ranges and broadly and historically encompassed the shires of Cranbrook and Tambellup/Broomehill. This area has in recent times also expanded to now include parts of the Kojonup and Plantagenet Shires. It has a varied rainfall ranging from 350mm through to 600mm in the west of the area.
This combined with suitable soils and landscapes has led to a broad range of agricultural land uses including:
- Broad acre cropping;
- Mixed livestock and cropping;
- Perennial horticulture; and
- Farm forestry.
In recent times the number of small landholders has increased as people seek lifestyle change adding another dimension to services required.
The Gillamii Centre area has a complex and varied geology. The northern portion of the area lies on the Yilgarn Craton which is a large section of ancient granite and granite gneiss. The southern and western parts of the Gillamii area however are on the Albany-Fraser Orogen, which has gone through a process of rejuvenation. This has resulted in a complex mix of soils and hydrology. The northern parts of the area are dominated by broad stagnate; flat to slightly undulating valley floors. These are interspersed with sandy and gravelly rises. As you move west the landscape becomes more dissected with steeper slopes and narrow valleys. The common soil types reflect this diverse landscape with sandy duplex and gravelly sandy duplex soils through to heavy clay.
There are a number of land degradation issues prevalent throughout the area. These include wind erosion, subsoil acidity and water repellence that are affecting in excess of 60% of the area. Salinity is also a significant issue with between 3 and 10% of those areas currently affected, depending on which part of the Gillamii study area you look at. The loss of biodiversity is also an issue in the area and is a focus for the centre.
As technologies change, and with the likely introduction of a price on carbon in the future, it is incumbent upon us and organisations like us, to keep abreast of these changes, and ensure that we provide the mechanisms to inform and educate those in our area before and as change occurs.
What does it mean?
Throughout the document a range of terminology is used. It is acknowledged that terms such as resilience and sustainability mean different things to different people. Below are the definitions of terms as used by the Gillamii.
Sustainability. the combination of factors that allow a practice to continue successfully into the future. One that considers, people, profitability and our part of the planet.
Natural Resource Management is a broad term which attempts to describe a diverse and complex system of caring for the land. Throughout this plan it most definitely refers to sustainable agricultural practices, water quality and availability issues, biodiversity and protection of the natural environment.
The Gillamii Centre, like many organisations is impacted by changing political climates. As governments change, so do their environmental initiatives, how they allocate funding and the direction their commitment takes can impact on the Centre. The Gillamii Centre is proactively working with Governments and their agents to recognise the distinct environmental issues and challenges of the region. One of the greatest challenges faced by the Gillamii Centre and its counterparts is the setting of environmental policy and funding from an Eastern States perspective. Often this focus means that funding is restricted to a specific issue which often is unrelated to the issues being faced in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Reduced or changed funding allocations also significantly impact the continuity of the centre and its programs.
The Gillamii Centre has been very successful operating within this framework delivering a wide range of projects into their communities; it continues to look to the future and is committed to being a community based organisation that represents a wide range of landcare and agricultural views in the community. As part of their ongoing commitment the Gillamii is looking to grow their financial mix, continuing to seek grant funded projects as well as offering a range of paid services for their community, and building partnerships with corporate bodies. The existing relationships that the Gillamii Centre has, especially those with the Shire of Cranbrook, Department of Agriculture and Food WA and South Coast NRM, are vital to their ongoing program delivery and operation. The Gillamii Management Committee is committed to strengthening these partnerships and to develop new partners, thus broadening their funding mix and project diversity.