4 Setting out the actions for community engagement
After forming the team and developing the objectives and background information for the plan, it is time to develop specific recovery or threat abatement actions.
4.1 Know your audience
Once all key threats and priority locations have been identified in the recovery plan, put some thought and detail into your stakeholder analysis to amend or provide further details. This enables you to better recognise which groups can influence the issues identified in the plan and ways in which this can be done.
Before stakeholders can be engaged on a project, they need to be engaged on an issue. Ideally, at this stage a communications strategy should be initiated. Once the message and communications approach have been determined, you can begin to develop an appropriate project with the community.
Matters you should identify are:
- who are the stakeholders?
- what are the management issues?
- what are the ideal behaviours that will assist in recovery?
- accessibility of stakeholders and available methods to communicate with them
- communications media
- performance indicators
- what is the conservation priority of engaging with each stakeholder?
See Appendix 4 (appendix406348.pdf 14 kb) for an example of a communications strategy. For more information, see Communicating for recovery - a guide to developing a recovery plan communications strategy (pdf, requires Acrobat Reader). See Appendix 13 for publishing details.
Another useful tool is available on page 132 of Enabling ecoaction: a handbook for anyone working with the public on conservation (pdf, requires Acrobat Reader). See Appendix 13 (appendixthirteen06348.pdf 171 kb) for publishing details.
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4.2 Think outside the box
When thinking of opportunities to work with the community on threatened species recovery, consider all aspects of the plan that the community can contribute to. Use your stakeholder analysis to think about less obvious stakeholders who might have strong direct or indirect influences on the issue at hand.
Remember that a well designed and managed community project can achieve multiple outcomes for a recovery plan and often lead to others assisting in the implementation of plan actions.
Integrating the requirements of the species recovery program with other natural resource management or community interest projects not only helps develop community support, but also provides better 'bang for the buck' and easier access to funding.
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4.3 Some basic ways of involving the community
Examples of ways of involving the community are as follows:
Habitat protection and rehabilitation on both private and public land including:
- fencing of remnants, habitat or riverbanks
- weed control
- bush regeneration
- tree planting and habitat enhancement
- riparian rehabilitation
- making and installing nest boxes
- seed collection
- plant propagation
- using custodians or wardens to protect sensitive areas
- controlling feral animals
- managing threats or tools such as grazing regimes or fire
- controlling access on public land
- implementing new land management practices
- entering into property agreements for conservation such as voluntary conservation agreements.
Monitoring and surveying including:
- species searches in areas of past or known habitat to identify populations
- facilitating private land access and surveys on previously inaccessible land
- flora and fauna surveys on key sites
- regular photo-point monitoring of sites
- monitoring plots at regular intervals
- vegetation condition surveys to monitor rehabilitation efforts
- weed and feral animal alerts
- scat collection
- regular nest box monitoring
- bird surveys
- monitoring breeding success
- providing sightings to databases (e.g. to DEC for inclusion in the Atlas of NSW Wildlife).
Education and awareness such as:
- creating and distributing local fact sheets and species profiles
- collecting local history about a species
- filming or photographing a species to use in communications materials
- collating and distributing current best practice management information to relevant landholders
- developing and erecting interpretive signage at key locations
- writing articles for local media
- public field trips or meetings
- display development for events, local libraries or council buildings
- talks at local schools or to service groups
- developing community ranger programs at popular public areas of threatened species concern (e.g. fishcare volunteers)
- developing a 'friends' group.
Lobbying and campaigning such as:
- lobbying the government on issues in the shire, state or country
- lobbying industry groups to amend their management practices
- encouraging councils, local industries or schools to adopt a species as their mascot
- involvement in local media campaigns
- obtaining community support for changed behaviour.
Fund raising. The community can:
- contact funding programs targeted to community groups
- develop grants proposals
- bring in local businesses as sponsors of project activities
- consider targeted activities for local groups (eg sponsoring a fence post for schools).
Policy and planning. Activities to influence policy and planning documents and the implementation of these documents include:
- involving or influencing catchment management authorities or other regional and local planning bodies
- involving or influencing the local council
- input to recovery teams
- connecting to industry and its ability to influence policy with major industry groups
- assisting in nominating a threatened species or ecological community or threatening process for inclusion in threatened species legislation
- preparing a local conservation plan for a threatened species.
- monitoring or labour assistance
- identifying research needs that may be on public or private land that can be delivered in partnership with local people
- enlisting university students to fill identified information gaps.
See the case studies in chapter 13 for more detailed examples.
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4.4 Actions in plans
Writing community engagement actions into a project plan can be difficult as, to allow for changing circumstances and adaptive management, actions need to be fairly general. However, without some level of detail, the plan will provide no guidance to the community on the specific activities needed and the priorities for the activities.
Issues to consider include:
- actions should be defined enough that progress can be achieved and measured over the life of the plan
- if specific actions are developed and written into plans before actively engaging with the community, rather than approaching the community with a pre-formed idea, care should be taken to keep project ideas general or perhaps indicative of potential opportunities
- community engagement actions in plans must be clear and targeted enough that an interested community group can initiate an action without the need for the team to instigate or control the project development
- actions should at least identify the issue or threat to be addressed, the desired behaviour, and priority regions for the implementation of actions - it may be possible to identify potential partners.
Even if community engagement in a plan's development is limited, there must be scope to support later community involvement in the review or implementation of the plan. The plan should recognise the value of, and identify basic opportunities for, community engagement. This helps those implementing the plan to recognise that community interests and engagement opportunities should be considered, and also allows funding to be considered for future collaborative actions as referred to in a plan. This is especially important given the shortage of funding support and agency resources to implement recovery plans.
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Page last updated: 28 February 2011