EMSA Committee 2006

Genevieve Carruthers
Environmental Systems Specialist, NSW DPI

Genevieve has background training in ecology and entomology and works with Australian farmers and NSW DPI research station managers to develop and implement EMS on-farm. She also undertakes research, EMS policy development and education/extension on EMS.

Genevieve is a foundation member of the UN Environmental Program Best Practice Network, established in 2004 and has worked on EMS since 1997 across a wide range of industries. She is the author of the National EMS training package, was on the organising committee for the past four EMS national conferences, has researched EMS adoption, published case studies of 40 farmers who adopted EMS or enhanced environmental management in Australia and New Zealand and also worked with international researchers on EMS in agriculture.

Why she thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
An EMS offers Australian farmers an infinitely flexible tool to direct and enhance their environmental management in a way that also allows them to better demonstrate this stewardship to external parties. As Australia exports the vast majority of its' farm produce, being able to 'prove' our credentials in the international market place is of increasing importance. At the same time, an EMS represents robust business management practices that can be used in any enterprise, with the purpose of enhancing integrated management outcomes across the whole spectrum of business management issues. From a community perspective, an EMS is a purposeful structured approach that offers great potential for collaborative target setting and evaluation of NRM approaches, and also allows for recognition of farmers w! ho are doing the 'right thing' in a systematic and recognisable program. Finally, an EMS allows farmers to contribute real-time and on-ground information into catchment NRM planning processes, hopefully allowing improved policy development for both NRM and farmer support to achieve NRM outcomes.

Nelson Quinn
Farmer and Director, Australian Landcare Management Systems Ltd

Nelson is a small-scale farmer (olives, sheep, cattle) near Canberra, a Director of Australian Landcare Management Systems Ltd, President of the New South Wales Olive Council, President of the Southern Olive Growers' Association of NSW and Convenor of the Ginninderra Catchment Group. In past lives he has been a senior public service executive, a special adviser or consultant to international organisations involved in research and programs related to the environment and global change. His early training was in law and politics.

As a Director of ALMS, Nelson is involved in the continuing development and implementation of a universally applicable EMS approach based on international standards, landholder determination of local action, links with catchment management arrangements and attention to biodiversity. With support from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and the olive industry he has written the report The Olive Industry - An environmental management systems framework and is now working on a follow up project involving a guidebook to simplify and accelerate the take-up of sustainable environmental practices and systems in the olive industry, and to provide a sound basis for olive industry inputs into more generic EMS developments. With RIRDC support he is also preparing a report on the likely effects of the Commonwealth Government-funded EMS Pilots and Pathways programs.

Why he thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
The community increasingly wants assurances that farm products are produced consistent with good environmental practice. Produce buyers here and overseas often demand evidence of good environmental and associated food safety practices. Governments and catchment management bodies want to see improvements in landscape management. In all cases, this adds up to increasing pressure to secure the natural resource base on which our life support and production systems depend.

An EMS approach can address all of these needs, and, if properly implemented, allows for continuing improvement as new knowledge becomes available, provides a credible basis for quality assurance here and overseas, facilitates continuation of higher value agriculture and the introduction of recognition systems for participating landholders.

Elaine Dickson
National Environmental Risk Manager, Baiada Poultry Pty Limited.

Elaine is responsible for providing direction and guidance to the Baiada Management on environmental management issues, liaising with State authorities on compliance and Development Applications and is assisting industry groups focus on cleaner production and sustainability projects.  Elaine's background is in poultry husbandry and she spent 11 years in Livestock Operations prior to her current involvement in systems management.

Elaine has spent the last five years developing and implementing a certified Environmental Management System to ISO 14001 Standard across the Baiada Goup of Companies.  To date this has been achieved across broiler farming, hatcheries, processing and rendering plants in New South Wales.  Various stages of implementation are in place over sites in other states.  The system has recently been updated to meet the ISO 14001:2004 Standard.

Why she thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
As with other facets of management such as quality and occupational health and safety, the maintenance of good environmental practice is best applied in a systematic manner.  The EMS is undoubtedly the best tool with which to achieve this, as has been clearly demonstrated through its application within the Baiada Group of Companies.

When a complete EMS is properly implemented, it provides an assurance that environmental issues are being fully considered and as such, will assist in the prevention of pollution, legal compliance and sustainability for any business as well as providing substantial benefits to the profitability of the enterprise.  Collectively, using EMS as a management tool in any industry can only promote not only much more conscious consideration of our limited resources, but it is also undoubtedly good business management.

Clive Smith
Farmer and member, Traprock Wool Association Inc

Clive is a wool producer in the Traprock region of south-east Queensland with is wife Margaret. Their 4,600 ha property runs 6,000 to 7,000 wether merinos producing wool in the 14.5 to 17.5 micron range. Clive is a member of Traprock Wool Association Inc., which has developed an umbrella EMS for its members and interested landholders in the area, currently about 50 participating properties. The Traprock groups initial focus was on wool production but it is rapidly diversifying into a range of enterprises including on-farm timber, horticulture, stone fruit, aquaculture and tourism. 

Clive has been as a participant in the development of the Traprock Integrated Management System, in particular, its requirement to sustain group activity in an umbrella approach. Traprock is developing a community database to provide trace back procedures for all enterprises and action plans as well as recording the biodiversity of the region.

Why he thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
All landholders are now under pressure from governments (Federal, State and Local), industry bodies, community, family and self to have and maintain good management practices. I see an EMS as a project management tool for the implementation of, or the continuation of, sustainable management practices. NRM has to date attracted a lot of resources both funded and unfunded but all parties involved in NRM changes need to see value in the resources they are committing, I believe it is only through a managed approach that there will be the ability to show and record improvement at all levels.

Elliot Dwyer
Environmental Policy, Agriculture and Wine Division, SA Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA)

Elliot has a varied background from the minerals industry and land use and information systems, and has provided long term consulting services in the Philippines and Namibia on mineral leasing and licensing systems. Elliot developed an EMS for the SA Department of Mines and Energy in 1997 and was a member of the inter-governmental working group that developed the National Framework for EMS in Agriculture in 2002. He is currently member of a similar group that is preparing a national action plan for climate change in agriculture. He was convenor of the 3rd National Conference on EMS in Agriculture in the Barossa Valley in 2003.

Why he thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
Agriculture and natural resources management today face serious challenges and opportunities. Development and production (in all industries) appears less and less sustainable under current practices. Our use of natural resources is greater than their rate of replacement; our production of toxic and 'clogging' materials continues; and our distribution of wealth and opportunity remains skewed to a small proportion of the global and national population. If we agree that this is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and are prepared to act upon it, the systematic and wholistic approach to business and resource management that is offered by EMS under the ISO14001 model, provides a signpost to sustainable agriculture and a sustainable world. If it can be demonstrated that the environment is not at risk and that society has the means to live with dignity then we can also look forward to a world with less conflict.

Stepping back from such an altruistic view of the world, EMS in agriculture also offers a systematic approach to 'more' sustainable primary production and therefore a longer term business outlook. It offers a comprehensive approach to environmental assurance for markets and consumers for food and fibre to be grown in a safe, clean, productive and long-lived environment. Furthermore, in the face of climate change, EMS provides a framework within which all aspects of  agriculture may be examined for production under very different environmental conditions that will demand quite innovative management thinking.

Chris Reid
Manager, Land Stewardship, North East Catchment Management Authority, Victoria

Chris manages programs relating to business and environmental sustainability on private land. He successfully managed one of the Federally funded EMS pilots resulting in 41 landholder businesses completing an EMS based ISO 14001 in North East Victoria. Of those 41 businesses, 30 decided to remain with EMS and Chris is in the process of auditing them to the ALMS Eucalypt standard.

Why he thinks EMS important for agriculture, industry and natural resource management in Australia?
Chris believes EMS offers a process of environmental improvement that will be of major benefit to landholders, agriculture product marketers and government agencies. He thinks that in the longer term a system of accreditation will be required to access not only international markets but also markets within Australia.