Monthly Archives: August 2009

‘Come walkabout’

This week the Government launched a $20 million fund to find a new brand for Australia. 

The recent ‘walkabout’ spin off from Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’ presented iconic images of ‘red earth’ Australia… 

Simon Crean, Trade Minister, says this new campaign is about moving beyond what we’ve done in the past. While it appears focusing on laid back Australia is still important there is a push to emphasise Australia as a place to invest in, be educated and build businesses.

While these assets are important I do wonder whether Luhrmann’s ‘Come walkabout’ piece was onto something. Australia’s natural environment is one of our most valuable assets. Perhaps we need to understand more about our different iconographic landscapes before we project our ‘identity’ to the rest of the world?

Whatever your opinions on the ‘Australian identity’ we should be portraying to the world in an ad campaign (I personally think it should also have a lot to do with our cultural diversity!) the connection between the natural Australian landscape and ‘escapism’ is clear in the following clip. It underlines a clear the disconnect between the ‘everyday’ of urban dwellers (majority of society!) and the vast beauty of a remote environment.

My question is why, when I see this advertisement (having only been to anywhere resembling the ‘outback’ once in my life) do I feel so emotionally connected? 

– How do we value the environment on a personal level?

– What are our actual connections to the envrionment versus our ‘imagined’ connections?

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Public engagement with the natural environment

Social evidence roadmap

‘Natural England’ is the British government’s advisor on the natural environment. 

While conservation of the natural environment is one of ‘Natural England’s’ most important focuses, they are also concerned with looking at the landscape’s intrinsic value to society.

In doing this they recognise that the relationship between recognition and engagement with an issue and people’s motivate to adopt supportive behaviour is complex.

Much of their research is relevant to the ‘Iconic Landscapes’ study.

These five key questions about public engagement with the natural environment make up what they call the ‘social evidence road map’. You can find the summary of the answers here

  1. Who uses and doesn’t use the natural environment, and why?
  2. What are the qualities of natural places and living things that people value, enjoy and benefit from?
  3. What is the evidence for social benefits arising from engagement with nature?
  4. What role does the natural environment play in influencing behavioural changes?
  5. When we talk about ‘engagement’ with the natural environment, how should ‘engagement’ be measured?

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How our image of nature affects use

Click here to see an interesting article exploring how people value nature and the envrionment.

Image of Nature

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Getting Iconic Landscapes off the ground

We have the funding, we have the plan, now all we need is a thumbs up from the ethics committee and we’ll be ready to go!

Ecological resilience of people and place: the key to sustaining Australia’s iconic landscapes… 

First port of call will be looking at the seawalls study area around Sydney Harbour (North Sydney and Mosman Councils). 

Our scientists are already conducting valuable research in this area (see seawalls page) but we need to look at this data from a social and cultural point of view by involving the local residents and stakeholders. 

THIS MEANS that in addition to looking at scientific findings linking distress with ecological resilience, we envisage identifying key societal values in the general public and in the decision-making processes involved in environmental change.

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