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Environmental awareness key agenda for Blackwood Valley

Due to increased concern about climate change and the environment the Blackwood Valley Wine Industry Association (BVWIA) is in the early stages of developing an environmental policy. Key areas of the strategy include carbon balance and sequestration on properties and in wineries, ensuring on-going training and support for members in raising awareness about environmental issues and how to address them and promoting the region as a sustainable area. As part of the training for members, the BVWIA is looking into holding Environmental Management System (EMS) workshops in early 2008, based on the BestFarms management systems specific to the south-west region of Western Australia.

The two-day workshops will give the opportunity for growers and wineries to develop an EMS for their individual properties, from identifying environmental impacts on their property to developing, implementing and monitoring an action plan which will provide a systematic and sustainable approach to profitable environmental practices for the next 10–20 years.

“EMS is similar to quality assurance systems but is focused on identifying and addressing environmental issues on any specific property,” BVWIA secretary, Kirsten Martin said.

“They act as a wonderful tool for producers to manage their environmental impacts while still ensuring efficient production and fruit or wine quality. We have several producers within the region who have developed and are implementing EMS on their properties. Through their EMS, they have had improved production efficiencies and communication, and in the long term will benefit from actions such as reduced water and energy use.” Martin says essentially, an EMS allows producers to step back and view their property from a wholistic approach – something that doesn’t often get done in the day to day workloads of the industry.

In recognition of the Blackwood Basin Group’s EMS project it was awarded the Australian Business Award for Environmental Responsibility in its industry category at the 2007 Awards.

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