Momentum building for continuous improvement through voluntary farm certification


Two recent reports emphasise the importance of continuous improvement in environmental management linked with ongoing support for innovative landholders.

In their Blueprint for a Healthy Environment and a Productive Economy report released on 6 November 2014, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists put its weight behind the use of voluntary farm certification to enable communities and consumers to reward land managers improving land condition. Importantly the report also concludes that it is in the public interest for governments to create the conditions necessary to enable environmental impacts to be built into the business of business. 

These points are fleshed out in the WWF–Australia report Changing land use to save Australian wildlife released on 10 November, with a key recommendation advocating that the Australian Government should promote the establishment and uptake of credibly certified, ecologically sustainable and low biodiversity impact agriculture by assisting with the development of a certification system, assisting certified agricultural operations, and supporting the marketing of products from certified farms. 

The WWF recommendation is set in a comprehensive presentation of certified sustainable agriculture, including reference to support from industry organisations, case studies of Certified Land Management in Queensland and Victoria, and to the need for government support illustrated by the Western Australian Government providing $14.56 million towards securing Marine Stewardship Council certification of its fisheries. The authors lament short-termism and point to the need for enduring improvement combined with an enduring system of benefits to participating landholders.