Sustaining local organisations: Reflecting on the Landcare experience

Allan Curtis, Bruce Shindler, Ian Byron

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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    Summary:Local watershed organisations, including Landcare groups in Australia, are an important element of efforts to better manage our natural resources. Much has been written documenting the activities and outcomes of Landcare groups. Not withstanding these important efforts, there has been little attention given to the important issue of how to sustain these organisations over time. In this paper we address this gap and identify five principles for sustaining effective watershed groups. In developing these principles we hoped to strengthen the conceptual foundation of these initiatives; help structure citizen-agency interactions; and provide a framework for the evaluation of watershed programs. Although we have examined local watershed groups in other countries, particularly in the state of Oregon in the United States, we have largely drawn upon our research and experience with Landcare.Conclusions:Our first principle is that these groups must be established at a local scale using social as well as biophysical boundaries. It is also critical that these organisations are embedded within a supportive institutional framework that identifies realistic roles for private landowners, local organisations and regional planning bodies. Our third principle is that without broad stakeholder representation, the perceived benefits of participation are quickly forfeited. It is also unrealistic to expect an effective network of local groups to be sustained without substantial investment by government to provide for program management, group coordination and cost-sharing for on-ground work. Our final principle is that there must be the commitment and skills within a program to establish processes that build trust and competency amongst citizens and agencies. These principles should also provide a foundation for the critical evaluation of local watershed or sub-catchment group programs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAgriculture for the Australian environment, 2002 Fenner Conference on the Environment
    EditorsBen Wilson, Allan Curtis
    Place of PublicationAlbury, NSW
    PublisherCharles Sturt University
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)1864671386
    Publication statusPublished - 2003
    EventFenner Conference on the Environment - Canberra, ACT, Australia
    Duration: 30 Jul 200201 Aug 2002


    ConferenceFenner Conference on the Environment


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