Australia's environment in context (Community awareness and action)

Independent Report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Australian State of the Environment Committee, Authors
CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
ISBN 0 643 06745 0

Australia's environment in context (continued)

Community awareness and action

Individuals, groups and enterprises are making significant efforts to overcome actual and perceived threats to the environment. Community empowerment and participation in the 1990s includes:

  • Natural Heritage Trust-funded programs in rural and urban areas
  • participation on high-level advisory bodies
  • representation on local and regional catchment management boards and other natural resource management committees
  • inputs to planning decisions such as under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (as amended)
  • development of partnership programs supporting local councils and their communities.

Community monitoring of a Zostera capricorni seagrass meadow in the Whitsundays, Qld

Community monitoring of a Zostera capricorni seagrass meadow in the Whitsundays, Qld

Source: Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Earthwatch volunteers assisting the Australian Platypus Conservancy to monitor the platypus population in a tributary of the upper Wimmera River, Vic

Earthwatch volunteers assisting the Australian Platypus Conservancy to monitor the platypus population in a tributary of the upper Wimmera River, Vic

Source: Blain Crellin/Earthwatch Australia.

From an Indigenous perspective, community participation can be complex and subject to social and religious rules which are intimately related to land ownership, management responsibilities and spiritual values.

Since 1996, it is apparent that individuals, communities, non-government organisations (NGOs), business and industry, the educational sector, and researchers have made numerous commitments to understanding the state of Australia's environment. For instance, higher education research and development expenditure on the environment has risen from $121 million (6.6% of total) in 1994 to $190 million (7.3%) in 1998 (ABS 2000a).