The Role of Extension in Natural Resource Management: the Australian experience

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


This chapter expands on the role of extension in achieving sustainable management of Australia's natural resources. The first section describes how extension has evolved since the 1930s to address natural resource management (NRM) issues in Australia. Extension in natural resource management has moved from a single focus on soil and water conservation to tackle a wider range of environmental problems associated with agriculture, urban development, forestry and fisheries. This move has been driven by changing government and community priorities concerned with the erosion of public good assets (eg. vegetation, wildlife, biodiversity, water quality, wetlands, old growth forests etc). Extension for NRM also changed from individual property planning and on-ground works, to addressing problems at a catchment scale with coordinated action. Changes in extension priorities and approaches could be seen to have been reactive instead of proactive towards the unfolding crisis of land degradation. This may have been the case early on with the transition from production based extension to NRM extension. However, the second section in this chapter illustrates how NRM extension approaches and methods have become more integrated, participatory and knowledge intensive over time, in a bid to get ahead of land degradation problems.Fuelled by government funding and community support, regional NRM organisations have formed partnerships with private industry, local government and community groups to take on a greater role in extension. Hidden behind different programs, titles, funding arrangements, and job descriptions, NRM extension is varied but also has commonalities. These differences and similarities are highlighted using examples from across Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShaping Change
Subtitle of host publicationNatural Resource Management, Agriculture and the Role of Extension
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780957703070
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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