Unexpected bequest a boost for agricultural sustainability

21 October 2011

Research into sustainable agricultural science has been given a huge boost with the announcement of a major bequest to the University of Sydney.

The unexpected gift of over $8.6m is from the Estate of the late Mrs Nancy Roma Paech, who grew up on the land but was never a farmer or grazier.

Nancy Roma Paech
Nancy Roma Paech

Professor Mark Adams, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources said: "This is an extremely generous and far sighted gift which will have a transformational impact on the research to be conducted at our new Centre for Carbon, Water and Food."

Mrs Paech was the daughter of a farming family from "Leeson" Station, Winton, in outback Queensland. She spent her early years on the station and her affection for rural Australia is thought to date back to that time. She was known to be interested in methods of crop production without the use of pesticides.

When her father died in the mid 1920s the estate was divided between Nancy and her elder brother, Robert Speirs. When Nancy died in 1987, her estate in turn was managed by her husband Donald Paech. It was only after Donald Paech died in 2009 that the University was made aware of the bequest. Up until then, it had no idea of Nancy Paech's intentions to donate her estate to the University.

Trustees of the Estate, Cedric and Mary Holland, said Nancy's wish was that interest from her bequest be directed towards "financing research in matters pertaining to agricultural science".

Professor Adams said income from the gift will be directed towards supporting research that benefits pastoral industries and the sustainable management of rangeland, pastoral and related inland Australian landscapes.

"In particular it will be supporting research into the types of low-impact, broad-acre agriculture that are the future of sustainable land management for a large proportion of the Australian continent."

This use also reflects Nancy Paech's early life and recognises that a large proportion of the world's poorest people are dependent on rangelands and the animals they support, and that there will be increasing demand for knowledge in this field from countries like China and Africa and India.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Professor Stephen Garton said this gift would bring long term positive benefits for the University. "Income from the bequest will fund the establishment of a new academic chair in Range Science which will focus on Sustainability of inland Australian landscapes used for animal production. As well there will be a number of Visiting Professorships, PhD Scholarships and Masters Scholarships all named after Nancy Roma Paech."

Trustees of the Paech Estate, Cedric and Mary Holland hand the donation to Professor Mark Adams (left) and Professor Stephen Garton (right).
Trustees of the Paech Estate, Cedric and Mary Holland hand the donation to Professor Mark Adams (left) and Professor Stephen Garton (right).

The research and associated activities supported by the Paech Bequest will be conducted through the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food of the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Camden campus of the University of Sydney. A new facility to house this interdisciplinary centre will be completed in 2012.

Contact: Professor Mark Adams

Phone: 02 8627 1010

Email: 1c010f08763a500f1f0b27417740230b04281c59291d4c4f572d