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Cecilia McConnell the new Soil and Land Commissioner

A scientist with a passion for regional development has been appointed the new Soil and Land Conservation Commissioner to oversee the protection and conservation of WA soils.

Respected hydrologist and natural resource management scientist Cecilia (Cec) McConnell has been appointed to the role.

Ms McConnell will work with the re-established Soil and Land Conservation Council to provide leadership for WA soil health

She succeeds Andrew Watson who served as Commissioner for 16 years before his retirement earlier this year.

Ms McConnell brings 25 years of experience working in leadership roles in government and the private sector to the position.

She has spent the majority of her career with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, up to 2010 when she started her own consultancy business.

Ms McConnell started her career as a technical officer, before becoming a development officer, then a hydrologist and later moving into NRM and regional management positions based at Northam.

In her role, she will be responsible for administering the Soil and Land Conservation Act 1945, that includes preventing land degradation, promoting soil conservation and educating landholders and the general public about sound land management.

The position has been reclassified and elevated in rank within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

This includes providing strategic, scientific and policy leadership on soil, water and land conservation, with a special focus on soil health and related farming systems.

Ms McConnell, who will be based with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, will sit on the recently re-established Soil and Land Conservation Council, which provides direct policy advice to the Minister for Agriculture and Food.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed Ms McConnell to the position of Soil and Land Conservation Commissioner — an important role that serves to protect and nurture our soil and land assets for future generations.

“She was the unanimous choice of a very strong selection panel of scientists, farmers and government representatives,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“Cec has a passion for regional development, which together with her skills and experience in strategic planning, policy development and community engagement will help drive efforts to strengthen the resilience of our soils.

“Our Government has demonstrated its commitment to protecting our soil and land resources, with the re-establishment of the Soil and Land Conservation Council nearly a year ago, which is drafting a State Soil Health Strategy and addressing critical issues of salinity and soil carbon.

“We need to pursue measures that boost the productivity and sustainability of WA soils — healthy soils are the bedrock of a strong agriculture industry in WA.”

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