WHY ISN’T THAT CREEK FENCED OFF? A Study of Landcare, Intervention and Change in a Rural Landscape

Erlina Compton (2009). WHY ISN’T THAT CREEK FENCED OFF? A Study of Landcare, Intervention and Change in a Rural Landscape PhD Thesis, School of Integrative Systems, The University of Queensland.

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Author Erlina Compton
Thesis Title WHY ISN’T THAT CREEK FENCED OFF? A Study of Landcare, Intervention and Change in a Rural Landscape
School, Centre or Institute School of Integrative Systems
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-04
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor RJS (Bob) Beeton
Dr Pamela Parker
Total pages 618
Total colour pages 12
Total black and white pages 606
Subjects 06 Biological Sciences
Abstract/Summary This study represents a quest to find answers to the complex problem of rural land degradation in Australia. Despite significant investment in environmental improvement programs and community based natural resource management interventions, the problem of land and water degradation continues. A key intervention in Australia has been the Landcare program, which has experienced much success in engaging a large sector of the rural population in addressing the problem. Additionally, the Australian Government has and continues to make significant investment in the Landcare program as well as directly to rural land managers through a range of extension and incentive mechanisms and increasingly through market-based instruments. Whilst financial, human and knowledge capital investment in such interventions appear to have an influence on their success, it is the social and cultural factors that seem to be a downfall. This study investigated this problem through a case study conducted in Gippsland, in the state of Victoria. Through a multi-methods approach guided by foundations of critical realism and influenced by grounded theory, this primarily qualitative study yielded rich insights into the inner workings of Landcare and the values, drivers and motivators of rural landholders and the institutional staff who work with them. Through five research cycles the study explored the health and function of 16 Landcare Groups; three examples of community-based projects which sought to improve Landcare group capacity and the views of 46 landholders and 31 institutional staff on values, drivers and intervention design. A sixth research cycle provided a synthesis of the findings of the first five cycles to develop a conceptual model of community intervention and change which was tested with a sample of the study’s informants. Emerging as key insights was the role that ownership, social capital and empowerment play in the success of group based community projects. On an individual level, values of landholders, including strong land ownership values and motivations are a key to practice change. This is also mediated by an individual’s access to various forms of capital to undertake farm management activities including altering practices towards environmental sustainability. The outcome of the study, the model of community intervention and change provide a series of critical ‘states’, ‘stages’ and ‘transitions’ to the process of individual and/or group change and empowerment. The study conclusions point out the complexities of the problem of land degradation when it is realised that the role of people is critical to its solution. The study provides insight into the essential components of interventions which are required to attain success.
Keyword intervention
natural resource management
psychological ownership
social capital
rural community
Additional Notes Colour Page Numbers: 18,19,21,130,174,175,206,215,219,223,241,438 Landscape Page Numbers: 47,48,50-53,62,63,73,74,94,158,274,531-535,577-590,594-597,599

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Created: Mon, 26 Oct 2009, 09:18:35 EST by Ms Erlina Compton on behalf of Library - Information Access Service