Dr Michael Mitchell & Associate Professor Catherine Allan
Landcare NSW, $20,000
Rural and Regional Communities
Dr Michael Mitchell and Associate Professor Catherine Allan have been assisting Landcare NSW with its recent organisational capacity survey. The survey administered by Landcare NSW used an instrument developed by the two researchers, in collaboration with Murray Local Land Services (LLS) and Holbrook Landcare Network, in 2016. The survey instrument was designed to encourage and enable Community Based Natural Resource Management groups undertake assessment of their capacity to act, and to consider their relative strengths and weaknesses. With the agreement of all involved, the original group capacity instrument was made open source to enable its widespread use.
In 2017 Landcare NSW administered the group capacity survey to all NSW organisations that hosted a landcare network co-ordinator, to better understand the strengths and needs of the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative. It re-administered the survey in 2018, providing an opportunity to increase the overall response rate, and for some organisations to compare results across two consecutive years.
Dr Mitchell and Associate Professor Allan were commissioned to assist with the analysis and reporting of the results from the two surveys. Following analysis, each participating Landcare organisation received an individual ‘snapshot’ report of their current self-assessed capacities. The snapshot report presents clear visuals and interprets the results, so the reports can act as a primer for conversations within the organisation. Organisations that completed the survey over two years received information to enable comparison and discussion of change.
A report for Landcare NSW synthesised the material from the individual group snapshot reports, providing them with indications of statewide strengths and weaknesses among Landcare networks.
Participating Landcare organisations have received individual 'snapshot' reports.
Mitchell, M. & Allan, C. (2019) Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative: Results of Landcare NSW’s Report Card 2 Organisation Capacity Survey, 2017 & 2018 ILWS Report 129.
In November 2019 Catherine Allan presented the assessment framework and approach as part of the R&D and University Panel at the 7th National NRM Knowledge Conference, held in Wodonga. Once again interest among NRM practitioners was high, for both the idea of assessing capacity, and the specifics of the approach we had developed. A number of positive contacts with practitioners across Australia were made as a result of the presentation.
The instrument and process were part of a small project designed to meet a need as expressed by two long term collaborators with ILWS. The small project has already had impact in NSW, and may have greater and broader impact in the future as practitioners continue to seek out our work to meet their ongoing needs. For example, a customised version of the capacity survey will be completed by Soil CRC Community of Practice (COP) members at their conference in Adelaide in March 2020. The extension staff in the recently created COPs, from across Australia, will use the survey as both a discussion primer, and a source of base line data against which to view their development. We believe that the continued interest shown by practitioners in our work reflects its applied, collaborative development, which effectively provided a relevant option for an identified issue.
There is also academic interest in the approach we have developed. Catherine and Michael will present a theoretical paper at the International Symposium on Society and resource Management in Cairns in June 2020.
Associate Professor Catherine Allan
Dr Michael Mitchell