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Landcare trials crowdfunding to support environmental projects -

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TANYA NOLAN: After losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, the community-driven environmental organisation Landcare is looking at new ways to survive.

Four-hundred-and-eighty-four million dollars was reallocated from the decades-old Landcare scheme in the budget to the Federal Government's training-based scheme, the Green Army.

Landcare has now partnered with a digital company to start a crowd-funding platform to keep it going.

Lucy Barbour has more.

LUCY BARBOUR: Crowd-funding is typically used to support creative industries, new business or charities.

But Alan Crabbe, the director of digital company Pozible, says that's beginning to change.

ALAN CRABBE: Every week we're seeing a new application of crowd funding like, for example, an 18-year-old girl from regional Victoria has raised I think just over $65,000 and she started her organic egg farm.

She's been able to supply more eggs I think per week for her customers just due to the demand.

LUCY BARBOUR: Mr Crabbe's company is about to start crowd-funding in the environmental space.

It's trialling a partnership with Landcare which will involve using the internet to raise money for 25 different projects.

ALAN CRABBE: For us, the environmental space is just another application that further develops the crowd-funding model, especially in Australia.

This is a category that we weren't previously open to so we're doing it in partnership with these guys because they know that industry much better.

LUCY BARBOUR: The Federal Government has cut almost half a billion dollars in funding from Landcare. It's investing that money into its Green Army.

Traditionally, Landcare has relied on Government funding, but chairman of Landcare NSW, Robert Dulhunty, says that has to change.

ROBERT DULHUNTY: That doesn't mean the Government isn't a significant partner in moving forward in funding Landcare. As a matter of fact they still need to recognise, acknowledge and commit to being the major funding partner of natural resource management programs across Australia.

But this allows an approach where the whole of society can get involved in Landcare works or environmental works, not only across Australia, but across the world.

LUCY BARBOUR: The Federal Government cut the Landcare project by almost half a billion dollars this year. Is that largely what's inspired this move into crowd-funding?

ROBERT DULHUNTY: There was a broader recognition that Landcare would need to broaden its base in terms of seeking funding from other avenues other than government, but this initiative was not hatched out of the recent budget cuts.

But we're hoping, if we can gain the support of industry and gain the support of philanthropy and government, that this could be a far more efficient way for the Government, for example, to deliver their funding programs.

LUCY BARBOUR: So how is this going to work practically?

ROBERT DULHUNTY: Essentially it's what I would term a digital shopfront. For a long time the way Government has funded Landcare has been problematic, let's say, because there's so many resources tied up in how the programs need to be designed, they then need to be advertised, applications then need to be called for. You know, on and on it goes right through to project acquittal.

So this approach fundamentally allows not only the community to go shopping for projects but the Government can have a look at what's on offer from the community and select projects that suit their priorities and their strategies. So it shortcuts that whole funding conundrum.

LUCY BARBOUR: When Landcare's crowd-funding model goes live in September, it will be up to individuals and communities to pitch projects for funding.

Alan Crabbe says community support is likely to make the Landcare trial successful.

ALAN CRABBE: Geographically we see that people do support projects that are local to them and they're quite passionate about that, mobilising local communities to take action locally and also create change in the environmental space.

LUCY BARBOUR: This year marks Landcare's 25th anniversary. The movement began in Victoria and now it has a reach across 22 different countries.

Robert Dulhunty says he hopes that crowd funding model will ensure that global awareness continues to grow.

ROBERT DULHUNTY: Well, it's quite exciting. There's a Landcare group in Madagascar that wants to raise funds to help fund a reserve for Limas over there, which are endangered, critically endangered.

So you can be sitting in Canberra and decide you want to fund a project in Madagascar, or vice versa.

TANYA NOLAN: That's the chairman of Landcare New South Wales, Robert Dulhunty, ending that report by Lucy Barbour.