Project summaries - 2011 Environmental Education - state and local government grants
Local councils in NSW are in a good position to make a significant contribution to the management and protection of the environment. However, compromising the effectiveness and longevity of these efforts is the lack of integration of sustainability into local government policy, operations and governance. Other key barriers to progressing sustainability in councils include a lack of senior management support and councillor leadership and a reduced capacity relating to the size of council and isolation (Barriers and Driver Research Report 2009). To improve this issue, this project will deliver training, mentoring, networking and practical resources that will strengthen councils' commitment and ability to implement more sustainable policies and programs which benefit council and the community. This project will be high profile, include senior management and councillors and have a special focus on regional and rural areas.
The project will address the management of key risks to the environment that are of current interest to Local Government. As is the case with decision makers within councils and leaders within communities, councillors across NSW need to understand new and emerging environmental risks and liabilities. Many regions have recently responded to floods of new magnitudes due to urban expansion and intensification in settlements, while other regions are experiencing water concerns under extended drought conditions, or investigating potential worst case scenarios from fire hazards and seeking to learn from the Victorian bushfires. This project will give councillors an opportunity to learn from case studies of responses to these recent natural hazards, hear from experts and peers on potential liabilities for Local Government and collaborate to minimise risks and liabilities relating to council land, assets, services, staff and communities. It will further equip councillors for informed decision making for beneficial environmental outcomes.
North East Waste Forum
Raising illegal dumping awareness in the northern rivers
This project addresses the issue of illegal dumping, through a targeted education campaign. Contrary to NSW trends highlighted in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (WARR) Strategy Progress Report 2010, the incidence of dumping illegally has more than doubled in the past four years in the North East Waste Forum (NEWF) region, costing member Councils in excess of $35,000 per annum for clean up and disposal. This poses a direct threat to the surrounding environment and to human health. Illegally dumped materials can be hazardous, e.g. asbestos and chemicals - creating a risk of soil and water contamination, fire and toxicity. Dumping of weeds and garden waste can destroy local bushland by reducing biodiversity and hindering revegetation. Illegally dumped items are also a lost resource that could otherwise be recycled. This project aims to raise the awareness of these issues, through a targeted media and education campaign and provide people with viable alternatives to dumping, and thereby reduce the incidence of illegal dumping throughout the NEWF region and help to prevent further increases in dumping through for example the change to digital TV.
Preservation of biodiversity values on selected Crown Reserves (total 1.3 million hectares in 35,000 reserves, managed by 1,000 Reserve Trusts). Crown reserves contain significant areas of remnant native vegetation and provide key habitat and wildlife corridors outside of the National Park reserve system, and there is no funding to manage the biodiversity of these areas. 700 community trusts (volunteer) manage large areas of vegetation, and currently there is no training or support to improve understanding and appreciation of the significant natural values within many reserves. Managing key reserves for biodiversity improvement should result in a net gain in resource condition. The project will select a key target group based on the presence of endangered ecological communities within the reserve, and develop a pilot training and support package for the community trusts managing these areas.
Research commissioned by the Australian Government has identified that whilst there are good examples of education programs being undertaken, the majority focus on awareness raising or engaging participants in on-ground activities. Although these programs can increase participant’s knowledge and skills they do not result in increased participation in defining issues and developing solutions that prevent damage to the environment. Social media presents a new opportunity to create a two way discourse on environmental education. The 'Becoming social' project will empower councils to utilise social media in facilitating: (1) the increased knowledge and acceptance of the relevant policy, education and programs; and (2) the engagement of residents beyond those who participate in traditional engagement and education activities to identify issues and participate in the delivery of solutions that maintain or enhance the natural values of local and regionally significant environments.
University of New England
Reducing woodsmoke pollution through effective education
In Armidale, it is estimated that 4,000 of 7,600 rateable properties use wood for heating. The use of wood is expected to increase, due to the rising cost of alternatives, an abundant supply of free firewood, and the perceived quality of the heat from wood fires. In Armidale in winter, daily levels of PM2.5 pollution are very high, and there is clear evidence of associated negative health effects. The proposed project extends our research that found an education intervention involving prompts, modelling and health information led to moderate reductions in wood smoke emissions. The project also revealed that most homes using wood heaters emit very low levels of smoke, and a minority of homes contribute the majority of smoke pollution. We have identified over 300 homes that produce excessive smoke. These homes are the target of our proposed project to implement and evaluate an enhanced education intervention based on Social Norms Theory.
Page last updated: 20 December 2011