Our May seminar brought together three diverse speakers, each entertaining and informative, to share their experiences of stakeholder engagement in NRM.
Angela Gladman from North Central CMA gave us a rundown of how the CMA works with landholders and the community through their Caring for the Campaspe project. The project commenced in 2012 with the primary objective of improving riparian vegetation condition. The community engagement component of the project focussed on raising awareness, promoting project incentives, improving stakeholders’ skills and practices and maximising project outcomes against the budget. The engagement strategy extended beyond landholders and sought to strengthen ties with other groups, such as indigenous groups, schools and user groups. Some key learnings from the project so far include planning further ahead, engaging directly with interested landholders, tailoring events so that the content, location and time suits the targeted demographic (which will be variable), use a range of tools and regularly seek and respond to project evaluation.
Leonie Duncan, from Alluvium Consulting, used a case study from rural Queensland to demonstrate how capturing social history can be an effective tool for engaging with landholders and community groups. Landholders along the Palm Tree and Robinson Creeks wetlands were asked to tell their stories about the wetlands, many of which included childhood memories. Recording these stories was not just important for capturing the social significance of the wetlands, but was also a way of building trust and rapport with landholders before developing management plans for the wetlands. More broadly, capturing narratives like these recognises the cultural importance of storytelling, that you don’t need to be a scientific expert to understand the wetlands, that these wetlands have an important place in sense of self and place and that we all have an important role to play as stewards of environmental assets.
Roger Pitt and his team at DEPI quickly learnt that the traditional approach to engagement was not going to work when trying to address community concerns about trail bike riding activity in State parks. To begin with, they had to scratch below the surface and interpret community complaints to determine what the underlying concerns really were. Second, they knew very little about their stakeholders and had to work out who they were, where they came from and how many there might have been. Then, the initial regional meetings revealed unanticipated issues, such as local conflicts and attendees wishing to discuss a range of unrelated concerns. It was after this that they changed approach and instead adopted the IAP2 public participation approach, following the stages of inform, consult, involve and collaborate.
Video/audio recordings of the seminar are available for RBMS members to access here.