Project 4.9.4

Improving the rate of environmental practice change amongst Wet Tropics landholders

Project Leaders: Dr Nick Emtage & Assoc Prof John Herbohn, UQ

The adoption of recommended management practices on privately-owned rural lands in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef is central to the strategy being employed by Australian governments to improve the health of terrestrial and aquatic environments in Queensland. The main strategy employed to date in effecting practice change has been to encourage landholders to voluntarily adopt best management practices. This MTSRF-funded project examined rural landholders’ attitudes to practice change, management goals, communication behaviour and trust of others, in the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management (NRM) region. Mail- and interview based surveys were used to explore landholders’ land and water management practices, attitudes to natural resource management issues, management objectives, use of information to support management decision making, trust of organisations and individuals and their socio-economic and demographic characteristics. Results showed substantial individual-level variation in the relative importance of economic, environment and social goals for Wet Tropics landholders. On average, landholders considered generalist information sources (including media) and financial/family advice to be more useful than enterprise-based or environmental-based information sources, although significant differences were observed between landholder groups with differing primary purposes for land ownership and scales of operation. Government agencies did not score highly in terms of the trust expressed in them by rural landholders in the Wet Tropics, probably reflecting a widespread rural cynicism regarding government involvement in natural resource management. Many landholders lack trust and confidence in government appraisals of the causes and extent of ‘environmental problems’, a topic that was raised repeatedly during the interviews of landholders undertaken for this study. Some fear the dilution of their property rights and reject the idea that their activities are the primary cause of degradation in the marine environment. Participation in NRM programs to date has been biased towards those with larger-scale cropping and mixed farming enterprises. Participation in NRM programs was also found to be strongly related to participation in short training courses and the preparation of property management plans. Those wishing to engage the interest of a broad range of landholders in natural resource management programs in the Wet Tropics would be most likely to succeed if they adopt an integrated approach that combines education and awareness campaigns with financial and technical assistance programs.





Report Series No. 44 - Emtage, N. and Shrestha, K. (2010) Landholders' perceptions of the Australian Government's Reef Rescue Program in the Wet Tropics region of North Queensland


Report Series No. 43 - Part A: Emtage, N., Smith, C. and Herbohn, J. (2010) Modelling factors affecting landholders' adoption of recommended natural resource management practices in the Wet Tropics region

Part B: Maczkowiack, B. (2010) Development of Bayesian Belief Network models linking the characteristics and circumstances of North Queensland landholders to their adoption of recommended land management practices


Report Series No. 31 - Emtage, N. (2009) Market segmentation study of rural landholders in relation to the promotion of natural resource management on private land in the Wet Tropics region of Queensland


Report Series No. 22 - Emtage, N. and Herbohn, J. (2008) Profiles of rural landholders in relation to Natural Resource Management in the Wet Tropics region of North Queensland


Report Series No. 11 - Emtage, N., Meadows, J. and Herbohn, J. (2008) The management of forests, plantations and remnant vegetation patches for biodiversity conservation: Principles and recommended tree species for revegetation plantings on the Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland


Report Series No. 10 - Emtage, N. and Reghenzani, J. (2008) Wet Tropics Sustainable Agriculture Survey Interim Report: A survey of rural landholders in the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management region