The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Branch of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) provides landholders with a soil conservation plan for their property as part of its service role to landholders. Little information is available to determine to what extent landholders use these property plans in property management and development decision making, including the adoption of recommended soil erosion control measures.
This study examines and reports on the level of contact landholders in four group schemes planned under the National Soil Conservation Program had with the planning officers, the level of landholder involvement and their satisfaction with their involvement In the planning process. It also examined the landholders perceptions of benefit
of the plans for their properties, their commitment to implement recommended erosion control measures, and the extent of use of the plans.
Fifty-four landholders were sent a mail questionnaire to which 38 usable responses were received. Respondents were asked a mixture of close-ended and open-ended questions to elicit specific information but also provide opportunity for respondents to openly express their own views.
Respondents felt that they had adequate levels of contact with the planning officer and involvement in the planning process. Fifty-eight percent of respondents had regular contact with their planning officer and 88% nominated Individual property visits as
the type of contact most useful in preparing their property plan. Eighty-four percent of respondents described their Involvement in planning their property as either moderately or very involved, with 89% saying they were either moderately or very satisfied with their level of involvement.
More than 90% of respondents were also satisfied with the property plans that were produced and the level of detail shewn on the plans. They generally saw no need to alter the type of information shown on the plan, but suggested seme additional information that could be shown. Ninety-four percent of respondents said the scale of the plan was appropriate for their needs and 86% preferred the plan to be presented on an aerial photo base. Suggestions to further increase the relevance of the plans to them included the use of colour, transparent
overlays to show proposed alterations to existing property inventory and multiple copies of the plan.
Seventy-six percent of respondents felt the plans will be of at least moderate benefit to them. Up to 75% of respondents were committed to contour bank and waterway construction, with slightly less (63%) being committed to adoption of conservation cropping practices.
Despite this high level of satisfaction with the plans and commitment to implement recommendations shown on the plan, only 22% of respondents had often used the plans in property management and development decision making. Another 35% had made moderate use of the plans. Only 30% of
respondents had used the plan in changing intended property management and development decisions and only 18% showed the plan to other people or discussed it with them on a regular basis.
These data indicate that considerable potential exists for Soil Conservation Services Branch, QDPI to increase the level of landholder use of soil conservation property plans. Respondents also indicated they would be prepared to pay up to $250 - $500 for a property plan if a fee was introduced for a property planning service. However, comments made on this subject indicate that a high level of resistance could be expected to such a proposal. A major program to promote the further use of property plans would need to be developed as a prerequisite of introducing a fee for property planning.
Scope is also identified to further increase the level of Involvement of landholders in the planning process, and thereby Increase the level of ownership of the plans and their use by landholders, by adopting a self-help approach to planning. Using this approach, the landholder would take more responsibility for collecting information to be shown on the plan and for the final appearance of that information.