Capable Connected Community

The community are vital in achieving natural resource management outcomes in the ACT. This has typically been supported in a variety of ways through facilitation, training, and provision of tools and equipment. The NRM Plan aims to recognise and build on the fantastic work of the community over many years, as well as identifying new and innovative approaches to promote and support community engagement, environmental stewardship, citizen science, volunteering and to connect the broader community to nature.

Desired Outcomes

Participation, awareness, enjoyment and connection to wildlife and nature is increased, through new and innovative community engagement approaches.

Priority Areas

The ACT and region.

Future Investment Focus

Innovative approaches to engage new and diverse sectors in the community to contribute to better stewardship of the natural environment across the ACT. Some examples may include targeting particular demographics within the community (e.g. new migrants, refugees, people with disabilities, underemployed, aged, young people), schools, the health sector and special interest groups such as Scouts, businesses, sporting clubs and so on.

Promoting more active engagement in nature based health and learning opportunities, such as schools ‘adopting’ nearby nature reserves, community planting events, bird spotting walks, and nature based play initiatives.

Building on Existing Investment

Junior Landcare is an example of a successful and innovative way of targeting specific demographics to engage with the natural environment in a practical and focussed way. The North Belconnen Junior Landcare Group known affectionately as “Landcare for Littlies” meets weekly to increase the environmental awareness of school aged children and their families and local scout groups in the North Belconnen area. These Junior Landcarers undertake on-ground works, while learning about the environment in fun and memorable ways.

Healthy Parks Healthy People is a global movement that recognises the fundamental connections between human health and environmental health and is being delivered by the ACT Government in a number of ways including provision of facilities and programs to get people out into nature along with associated communication activities.

The concept of 'Bush Friendly Gardens' or 'Urban Gardening' provides an example of a style of program which connects people with nature and recognises the personal benefits to be gained from experiencing nature in urban parks. Initially volunteers are introduced to the purpose, activities, and support for land stewardship, and their potential role. Following this, connections to place deepen; stewardship knowledge, competencies and activities strengthen; and commitment to stewardship increases through learning by doing, supported by rewarding results, validation, community involvement, and accessible resources. This has demonstrated positive benefits on health and well-being.

Desired Outcomes

A vibrant, active and interconnected community volunteer network focussed on delivering a variety of environmental outcomes.

Priority Areas

The ACT and region.

Future Investment Focus

To continue to support and build on the extensive work of the Landcare and ParkCare volunteer networks to deliver NRM outcomes across the ACT and region in line with relevant strategies and action plans.

Building on Existing Investment

The ACT Government (through the Parks and Conservation Service) and community groups (such as Catchment Groups, Greening Australia and Conservation Volunteers) provide a high level of support for Landcare and ParkCare programs and other volunteer activities. More information about this can be found at Our NRM community. There are currently 56 Landcare and ParkCare Groups supported by the ACT Government in partnership with the three ACT Catchment Groups and Landcare ACT.

Community groups provide an important link between the community and the ACT Government and other stakeholders, providing assistance with project development and implementation, and facilitating community forums for ideas and discussion. Capacity building, facilitation and coordination are important to leverage the extensive in-kind support of community volunteers to deliver on ground outcomes.

For example, the Catchment Groups' Green Army Team program delivered significant outputs and broad socio-cultural and biodiversity outcomes including:

- Over 250 water quality, macroinvertebrate surveys and riparian assessments
- Over 650 ha of weeding
- Planting 14,500 native plants
- 100 ha of erosion management
- Support for 60 ParkCare and Landcare Groups with on-ground physical labour
- 56 young people received training in land management for conservation and experience in the Landcare movement and community volunteering.

Desired Outcomes

To engage the community in monitoring environmental change in collaboration with researchers and NRM practitioners.

Priority Areas

The ACT and region.

Future Investment Focus

Continue to build on the work of a variety of monitoring programs, and to develop new monitoring programs to assess NRM investment outcomes as appropriate.

Building on Existing Investment

Citizen science has been shown to be an effective way of increasing community engagement in biodiversity conservation and monitoring.

The ACT Catchment Groups in partnership with the ACT Government have been supporting Waterwatch and Frogwatch for many years, and more recently the Vegwatch program. All of these programs have become very important citizen science environmental monitoring programs to inform program planning, to assess change and to evaluate the outcomes of various interventions. They are also useful for raising awareness across the broader community. For example, Frogwatch has over 500 volunteers and 20 partner organisations and provides an ideal avenue for ‘mainstreaming biodiversity’ and engaging the broader community in biodiversity conservation.