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Environment or economy: it’s all one world

Environment or economy: it’s all one world

It’s easy to think that our investment in environmental sustainability must take a back seat while we get our economy back up to speed. But economic and environmental sustainability isn’t an either/or equation.

According to Toby Liston, we need to have both.

Liston runs Three Bridges, raising some of nation’s most prized thoroughbred horses. Three Bridges holds the record for selling the most expensive yearling in Australasia’s history – Black Caviar’s little brother – which recently fetched $5 million.

Liston’s property spans 650 hectares along Victoria’s Lodden River. Since taking over the farm in 2006, the Liston family has planted more than 60,000 native trees across more than 50 hectares.

But far from locking up productive land, planting the trees has helped the Listons get more out of their land – not less.

“Investing in ‘green infrastructure’ has increased our farm’s productivity – and ultimately our farm’s value,” Liston says.

Three Bridges partnered with Greenfleet to reintroduce native trees to create a 30 metre windbreak around the entire property, provide shelter for the horses, and to remove carbon from the atmosphere at the same time. The project had environmental drivers but clear economic benefits.

“While trees make the best windbreaks from an aesthetic perspective, they also stack up financially, with the added benefit of leaving a legacy,” Liston explains.

“The thoroughbreds raised at Three Bridges now have ample shelter around their paddocks from wind, rain and heat – which ultimately means we spend less money on food and have top-quality horses that are achieving some of the best sales results in the world,” Liston explains.

Liston says the combination of Three Bridges’ farming practices and the natural shelter from the windbreak has reduced their annual feed bill by as much as 50 per cent.

The project has also helped to combat soil erosion, improve the health of the Lodden River and build a green asset that will be around for generations.

In today’s tough economic climate, it’s understandable that many of us would think that the health of the economy is more important than the health of the planet.

However, healthy environment is, in fact, a prerequisite for a healthy economy. As the people at Three Bridges have found, environmental imperatives are not in competition with economic considerations, but in fact integral. The choice between the environment and economy is a false dichotomy.