Incorporation of Practical Measures to Assist Conservation of Biodiversity Within Sustainable Beef Production in Northern Australia

Edited by Sue McIntyre, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Jointly funded by MLA, CSIRO and Environment Australia, October 2001
ISBN 1 74036 189 X

Appendix 7: Evaluation of Communication Outputs

Survey conducted and analysed by Jan Green.

Since 1996 the CSIRO Grazed Landscapes Management Project (GLMP) has worked with state agency staff and producers to develop principles for the sustainable management of soils, pastures, trees, wildlife and watercourses in sub-tropical grassy eucalypt woodlands. To assist people involved in the communication of technical information relating to ecological sustainability, GLMP ran a series of one-day workshops in November 1999 and March 2000 in two locations - Bundaberg and Toowoomba.

The aims of the workshops were to:

  • Discuss basic ecological principles for sustainable land use;
  • Discuss land use thresholds and the ecological consequences of exceeding them;
  • Consider the practicalities of applying the thresholds in property and conservation planning;
  • Provide an information resource that was relevant and useful for communication.

To this end, a workshop module was produced entitled Balancing Conservation and Production: Understanding and using landscape thresholds. Before the first round of workshops, the module was mailed to participants. At the workshop, feedback and comments were collected for use in the final version.

A questionnaire was developed to evaluate the usefulness of the module and its contents. This was to take the form of telephone interviews to all workshop participants (120 people). The questionnaire was structured and consisted of three parts - those who attended a workshop, those who did not, and those who used the module only for their personal use.

Participants included extension personnel, catchment and landcare coordinators, policy makers, researchers and producers. Due to the rate of staff turn-over, about 50% of the participants were no longer employed in their original areas. Consequently 61 people were available for the survey; the results and their comments follow. The survey questions are listed in Appendix 1.

Of the 61 people surveyed, 6 had not attended the workshops. However, they had been referred to and read the module and used it in the course of their work. The majority of those surveyed were extension personnel (69%); 11 % were catchment or landcare coordinators. The rest of the group was comprised of policy makers, producers and researchers. We interviewed less than half of the workshop participants, which greatly increased the conservativeness of our estimate.

The module had been used on 290 occasions by the participants, and use included:

  • workshops and field days (25%);
  • one on one discussion (15%);
  • own information (15%); and
  • training and communication material (13%)

As a result of this usage, the content reached 1543 landholders. The information contained in the module changed perceptions of conservation management in 942 landholders. This means that these landholders have a better understanding and greater awareness of the issues of conservation management in terms of their own properties. Of these 942 landholders, 418 (44%) have changed their property management practices to incorporate some conservation measures. The majority of landholders were involved in beef cattle grazing (81%), the others were dairy farmers or involved in cropping or farm forestry.

The overall rating on the usefulness of the module in terms of conservation management issues was 4 out of a possible 5. This rating included one score of 0/5 as the respondent does not live in the specific habitat type covered by the thresholds - grassy eucalypt woodlands. In general respondents provided positive comments and feedback on the usefulness of the module and its content. Not all respondents used all the content all the time. The general reaction was that the module was comprehensive and simple and a good resource - all in one book, although some doubted its usefulness at the property level.

Questionnaire Used in an Evaluation of the Workshops and Learning Module
Section A
Hello my name is Jan Green from CSIRO in Brisbane. Our group which, includes Sue McIntyre, Neil MacLeod and John McIvor, produced a booklet called Balancing Conservation and Production, which we used in a series of workshops in November 1999 and March 2000. We want to evaluate the usefulness of the book and its information. Do you have a few minutes to spare? Yes - continue;
No - Can I call you at a more convenient time?
1. Have you read the booklet? Yes - continue;
No - stop interview
2. Did you attend a workshop? Yes - continue;
No - go to Section B
3. In what capacity did you attend the workshop? a. Extension personnel
b. Catchment/landcare coordinator
c. Producer
d. Researcher
e. Policy
f. Other
4. Are you using or have you used all or part of the booklet? Yes - continue;
No - go to Section C
5. How have you been using the booklet? For your own information - go to Section C
In workshops/field days - continue
Training/communication material - continue
In property/catchment planning - continue
Other - continue
6. How many times have you used the booklet? (e. g. x workshops, x field days) continue
7. How many people would this have involved? (e. g. x workshops, x field days) continue
8. Have you used the game in these activities? Yes - continue;
No - go to 10
9. How effective was the game as a learning tool? 1 (no effect) - 5 (highly effective)
10. In your opinion has the material in the booklet had any impact on:
  1. Landholders' perceptions of conservation management
  2. Changes in their management practices
   
Yes - go to 12; No - continue
Yes - go to 13; No - continue
11. How many have had their perceptions changed? continue
12. How many have changed their management practices? continue
13. What sort of agricultural industry were all or most of these people involved in? continue
Go to Section C
Section B - not attended a workshop but seen the booklet
1. How have you been using all or part of the booklet? For your own information - go to Section C
In workshops/field days - continue
Training/communication material - continue
In property/catchment planning - continue
Other - continue
2. How many times have you used the booklet? (e. g. x workshops, x field days) continue
3. How many people would this have involved? (e. g. x workshops, x field days) continue
4. Have you used the game in these activities? Yes - continue; No - go to 6
5. How effective was the game as a learning tool? 1 (no effect) - 5 (highly effective)
6. Have you evaluated the activities or followed up on people's opinions? continue
7. In your opinion has the material in the booklet had any impact on:
  1. Landholders' perceptions of conservation management?
  2. Changes in their management practices?
 
Yes - go to 8
Yes - go to 9
8. How many have had their perceptions changed? continue
9. How many have changed their management practices? continue
10. What sort of agricultural industry were all or most of these people involved in? continue
Go to Section C
Section C - attended a workshop and use the booklet for their own purposes only
How do you rate the usefulness of the booklet in terms of your understanding of the issues of conservation management? 1 (not at all useful) - 5 (very useful)