West of Louth in New South Wales, Yathonga sits across three bioregions touching the Murray Darling Depression, Darling Riverine Plains and the Cobar Peneplain. Stuart Le Lievre and his family have been running a grazing enterprise across the land since 1862, so he’s very aware of the changing climate and the balance that needs to be struck between what you do and how the land copes or thrives.
Stuart believes that his carbon project has made adapting to climate change easier because it allows him to stay on top of management strategies and flattens out the peaks and troughs of running livestock. By focusing his efforts on good management strategies he says he’s been able to maintain a healthier ecosystem on the land without losses to his livestock enterprise.
“Having the carbon money enables me to run the country the way it needs to be run. I don’t have to flog it to earn more money. Even through the drought I could manage the country and reduce erosion and dust storms.
Getting the balance right between economic needs and environmental needs is so important, and the backing of the carbon project makes that balance work,” he said.
The additional income has enabled Stuart to build decent yards for better mustering and achieve higher rates with less labour. And he says everything on the land is regenerating as a result of the management changes.
“If we didn’t have groundcover everything would be an uphill battle,” says Stuart. “During the drought we didn’t have surplus sheep and only had to feed for 8 months compared to others who had to feed for 2 years. The minute it rained, our land bounced back and we had fat sheep within a month. You can’t do that if you’re under financial pressure because you can’t afford to balance your resource management properly.”
As far as native wildlife goes, Yathonga’s thriving habitat has seen birdlife come back along the river with cockatoos, parrots, pigeons, budgies and pelicans all flourishing. Echidnas and goannas are also being spotted more regularly.
“We have really diverse species on Yathonga and that comes from having a healthy resource base. If you can manage your resources well, everybody is going to be happy. This is what we’ve achieved through carbon,” Stuart said.
Human-Induced Regeneration of a Permanent Even-Aged Native Forest – 1.1 Methodology Determination 2013