Monthly Archives: September 2009

Caring for our Country – Community Action Grants

The Government’s new natural resource management initiative, Caring for our Country, will be giving out grants between $5,000 and $20,000 to community groups who want to take action to help protect and conserve Australia’s environment. 

Eligible community groups include:

  • Community groups involved in coastal rehabilitation, restoration and conservation
  • Groups of farmers or land managers working on sustainable farming or improving natural resource management
  • Indigenous partnerships involved in protecting or improving the environment
  • Community groups involved in biodiversity conservation, environmental protection or managing natural resources

The grants are only available to eligible groups, not individuals. 

Eligible projects must:

  • Involve volunteers and communities in activities which work towards achieving outcomes in the Caring for our Country national priority areas of Biodiversity and Natural Icons, Coastal Environments and Critical Aquatic Habitats and Sustainable Farm Practices
  • All are to be completed within 18 months or less

Applications for a Community Action Grant will be open from tomorrow 1 October 2009 to 22 October.

To apply, visit their website


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Filed under People and the environment

Dust storm… the first of many? Red centre visits the coast

Last week we posted a video of Chris Dickman talking about the desert. When we asked him why, considering most people are spatially disconnected from the desert, the work he did was important for the wider community he said:

The animal and plant life that occurs in so much of Australia is unique to this place. It doesn’t occur anywhere else. We can’t really look to any other nation to conserve it for us. It’s critically up to us to look after what we have. We know already over the last 200 years we have the world’s worst extinction rate for mammals. About half the mammals that have been extinct since the early 1800s have been in Australia. We can’t afford to loose anymore. They provide incredibly important ecosystem services for us. If we allow introduced grazers to get out of control, one of the outcomes we’re likely to see is dust storms in Melbourne or Sydney. We’re going to loose the top soil, we’re going to loose the future productivity, we’ll loose many of the ecosystem services that are provided by these animals… the digging, the scratching in the soil that allows the rainfall to penetrate, the nutrient cycles, the accumulation of organic material, the accumulation of seeds, the stimulation of green plants to grow. If all of that is lost we’re denying future generations not only the chance to see these wonderful unique Australia animals and plants, but we’re denying future generations the chance to use the environment in a productive and sustainable way…Acknowledged what we’ve lost and use that as a stimulant to preserve what is currently left.

The storm did more than lace our car bonnets with a webs of red dust. The desert, now, doesn’t seem so far away. Perhaps, as Dickman predicts, if we don’t act to conserve the centre of Australia, there will be many more to come.

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Filed under Interviews, People and the environment

Chris Dickman on Australia’s arid-dry zone

Below is a video package of a chat we had with Chris Dickman last week.

He has since left for what will be one of over a hundred research trips to the Simpson Desert. 

As mentioned in the clip he and his team are investigating the benefits of feral predator removal, the role of small wooded plant life, the importance of local-regional dynamics and biotic interactions and the impacts of grazing on biodiversity in the arid dry-zone.

We hear about how to imagine being in the desert, his motivations, reflections on our connection with the land and the importance of conservation.



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Filed under Interviews, People and the environment

What do Australians think about protecting the environment?

An Australian Bureau of Statistics report, prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, says Australians are less concerned about the environment than they have been in the past despite the fact that more people are undertaking environmental of “green” activities.

The report looks at trends occurring over the last decade with particular emphasis on the level of environmental concern and people’s involvement in environmental activities. 

Click the icon below to read the report.

Protecting the environment? (ABS)

Key points:

  • In 1992, three quarters of all Australian adults, or 8.6 million people aged 18 years or older, stated they were concerned about environmental problems. By 2004 the proportion of people concerned had declined to 57%.
  • Although concern about the environment has continued to decrease across all groups between 1992 and 2004, the most pronounced decline has occurred in the younger Australians, especially those aged 18-24 years, with concern declining from 79% in 1992 to 48% in 2004.
  • While people may state they are concerned about the environment, a more valuable measure of their concern may be what they have done about their worries. In 2004, 7% of Australian aged 18 and over registered their concern by writing letters, telephoning, participating in a demonstration, signing a petition or making some other source of official expression.
  • The main reason stated for non-involvement in environmental actions has remained constant over the years as “no time for involvement”.
  • 95% of households undertake in some form of recycling.
  • In 2004, almost nine in ten households in Australia (89%) reported purchasing environmentally friendly products (EFPs).

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Filed under People and the environment, Putting it in context

State of our Environment

NSW’s State of the Environment 2006 report indicates the current rate of progress toward sustainability is not yet sufficient to balance the underlying pattern of environmental decline and historical legacies. 

But education programs to better inform the community have made significant progress since 2003 with results reflected in the community attitude graph* below:
Community attitudes
Community attitudes
93% of respondents here stated that the environment was either very important or rather important to them personally, third only to family and friends. Another graph* also outlines the extent to which increasingly recognition and of environmental issues translates into personal decisions or actions:

Environmental action
Environmental action

* Source: DEC Data 2006


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Filed under Putting it in context

Visual narratives

At this stage of the project we are considering the methodologies we will use to engage our three representative groups: residents, stakeholders and scientists.

Much of the study will involve collecting qualitative material through interviews and focus groups. We want to hear your stories! 

One method I’ve come across goes beyond extracting a verbal answer to the question “what do you value most about your immediate environment”.

‘Resident Employed Photography’ encourages participants to take photographs of features in their environment they feel most attached too. 

This opens up a potential dialogue where meaning and narratives behind photo choices can be discussed and examined. 

You can find a link to the relating article here and as well an interesting response looking at the pitfalls and benefits of such an expressive research tool.

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