Engagement, extension and education
The values and services provided by aquatic ecosystems are not always well understood by stakeholders. Stakeholders may also have valuable knowledge that can help build a clearer picture of how the ecosystem in question functions or may suggest interventions. Extension activities may be a continuation of the activities undertaken as part of Step 2 to identify stakeholders and beneficiaries. Improving this collective understanding in a knowledge exchange can change the views and values of a person or group of people. This in turn can change the way people act, potentially reducing pressures currently being put on the system (reactive) or stopping them from occurring in the first place (proactive). It may also result in people assisting with the maintenance and monitoring of the system through citizen science initiatives. Engagement, extension and education should be one of the mix of management intervention options adopted in all rehabilitation projects.
While efforts to change behaviours via education about aquatic ecosystems is a worthy goal it may not succeed if the target audience is incorrect, the information being provided is inappropriate, is delivered in an ineffective format or forum, or expectations are unrealistic. Effective engagement and extension can overcome these barriers. It is important to know who the audience is, how to engage them, and how to transfer or extend knowledge to that person or group. For example, if the target group is people implementing rehabilitation projects, then capacity building through a combination of workshops and onsite practical programs can result in the correct skills and knowledge to undertake a rehabilitation project successfully. Field days showcasing rehabilitation options are more practical and useful for landholders than information leaflets. Citizen science monitoring programs are another example of providing engagement, extension, and education that are low risk, no regrets management options.
For any rehabilitation project it is useful to consider its potential as an education tool. For example, a degraded section of a river located within an urban environment may warrant rehabilitation activities as it may play a part in educating the community on the importance of such systems. This may remain the case even if interventions may have had a greater environmental outcome elsewhere in the system. The same is true for citizen science data collection projects such as the South East Queensland (SEQ) Catchments Community Water Quality Monitoring Program where the true benefit is a combination of both the data collected and community engagement and education.
Ideally engagement, extension and education should build awareness, enthusiasm, relationships, knowledge and capacity for improved management. Programs designed for this purpose can empower landholders, land managers, decision makers (e.g. planners), government, non-government organisations and the community to implement practical and innovative solutions.Links:
Australian River Restoration Centre
Section 3: How to engage stakeholders and mainstream biodiversity (CEPA Toolkit)
USAID Best Practices For Stakeholder Engagement In Biodiversity Programming
Tools of Engagement: A Toolkit for Engaging People in Conservation ( The North American Association for Environmental Education)
Australian Citizen Science Association – Citizen science is redefining how we do science
Last updated: 30 June 2022
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2022) Engagement, extension and education, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/rehabilitation/rehab-process/step-4/engagement.html