Social Research for Regional Natural Resource Management
Associate Professor Catherine Allan, Dr Michael Mitchell & Dr Wendy Minato
The long term commitment by Murray Local Land Services (LLS) to social research and its associated investment has enabled strong collaborations to develop with ILWS, resulting in the following projects:
Community groups capacity check. Allan, C. & Mitchell, M. (2015-2016) Murray LLLS, $29,900
Stakeholder satisfaction survey. Allan, C. & Mitchell, M. (2015 - 2016) Murray LLS, $14,900
Billabong Yanco social research, Allan, C. Mitchell, M., & Minato, W. (2016) Murray LLLS, $30,000
The first two projects were undertaken concurrently.
The Community groups capacity check project, which came about because Murray LLS was looking for a way to inform their investment in group capacity, involved a survey of community groups in the Murray region, including Landcare and producer groups.
The researchers developed a framework for the survey comprised of five capital types – human, social (sub-divided into bonding, bridging and organisational) and physical/financial. The survey (paper, email and on-line versions) was sent to 73 groups (10 of which were subsequently found to be no longer operating); and a 75% response rate was achieved.
The researchers found that:
The Stakeholder satisfaction survey project, which came about because Murray LLS was keen for groups to provide feedback on Murray LLS performance and its devolved decision-making model, involved a survey of the community groups identified above as well as other stakeholder organisations such as local shires in the Murray LLS region, government agencies and private consultants. While Murray LLS has done stakeholder satisfaction surveys with individual clients before, this was the first time groups and organisations were surveyed. A response rate of 66% was achieved.
The main findings were:
The Billabong Yanco social research project is assisting the Murray LLS's Billabong Yanco Creek Project which involves a social-ecological systems analysis of the landscape. CSU's contribution is to provide a social profile and perspective to contribute to the systems analysis.
The local project steering committee identified social norms as a key influence on the system in all its aspects – social, economic and environmental – and there has been interest in exploring how social norms could be influenced to improve desired project outcomes.
Each of the participating groups received a 'snapshot' report on their group's capacity survey results
Presentations on the results from the capacity and stakeholder satisfaction surveys were provided to:
Reports presenting results from the capacity and stakeholder satisfaction surveys (still in process, to be published as ILWS reports)
Social profile report for Billabong Yanco project (published as ILWS Report No 95)
Presentation to National Landcare Conference, 21-23 September, 2016: "Measuring Capacity to Build Landcare"
The first two projects provide baseline surveys. Future surveys undertaken by Murray LLS will use the baseline to understand what is changing, and why. The results of both surveys will inform decision-making within groups and Murray LLS.
Associate Professor Catherine Allan