For two decades, ANU has researched and collected data from over 300 farmers engaged in sustainable farming from north-east Victoria to south-east Queensland. It is one of the largest, long-term studies of its kind in the world.
After a $2 million grant from the Ian Potter Foundation and generous donor support, these findings now inform the Sustainable Farms initiative, which helps farmers better manage the balance between agricultural production and long-term sustainability.
Not only have farmers who are better environmental stewards reaped the benefits of their work financially; many farmers attest that the increased presence of vegetation, tree cover, greener pastures and bird calls has improved their mental health, sense of wellbeing and pride in what they do.
Paul and Rachel Graham took over Bongongo, the 1,800 ha family farm located near Adjungbilly, north-east of Gundagai, over a decade ago. They've gradually taken on larger and more challenging rehabilitation projects, gaining confidence through practical experience.
"Like all farmers, there's a history for why you're here. You're really just the next custodian. If you take that into account, you look after the land better as the next custodian," said Paul.