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Effective engagement strategies for NRM regional bodies

Cristine Hall1, Tim Smith2 and Toni Darbas2

1CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Toowoomba, Australia
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Brisbane, Australia


The South-East Queensland Western Catchments (SEQWC) is an NRM region in transition, characterized by a rapidly growing population and changing resource demands. This creates challenges for the SEQWC regional body in terms of effectively engaging stakeholders in NRM. The aim of this project is to research engagement strategies (i.e. the participatory tools and approaches used by NRM institutions and practitioners) in partnership with the SEQWC regional body, in order to improve engagement practice in the region. The research approach consists of: (i) understanding current NRM engagement practices; (ii) motivations and preferences for NRM engagement; and (iii) trialing tools for NRM engagement.

Data were collected from key informant interviews and participant observation of current engagement practice. Key preliminary findings include: (i) engagement practitioners often perform multiple roles that may be in conflict; (ii) most engagement practitioners have little formal training in engagement and (iii) the majority of tools used are engager-driven, reactionary and largely involve the usual suspects.

Three key learnings: (1) engagement could be improved by training for practitioners to enhance their current engagement practice e.g. the inclusion of a monitoring and evaluation component of engagement activities invites greater practitioner reflection and capacity-building; (2) there is the opportunity to transfer knowledge amongst practitioners and the potential for greater coordination of engagement activities; and (3) the research is relevant to many NRM regions where peri-urban development is rapidly changing the landscape so there is an opportunity to extend and develop these findings to improve engagement in these transitional regions.

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