Community capacity is a critical factor in achieving sustainable NRM outcomes over the long term. Regional NRM organisations adopt a range of approaches to building community capacity. They provide technical and other support to individual landholders, Landcare and other community groups and they use various approaches to facilitate greater community participation in the planning, investment and decision making of the regional NRM organisations.

In 2016, with the support of the Australian government, NRM Regions Australia working with the National Landcare Network, engaged First Person Consulting to review how regional NRM organisations are evaluating the outcomes of their community participation efforts.

In that report First Person Consulting recognised one of the challenges was defining community participation:

” ‘Community participation’ encompasses what is often referred to in the NRM sector as ‘community engagement and capacity building’ (CECB). ‘The community’ is described as a combination of community groups and single individual community members who are involved in NRM. We define community participation in the context of NRM in Australia as encompassing:

  • providing information to the community
  • stakeholder consultation; requesting input or feedback from the community
  • decision-making, delegating decisions and planning
  • participation in activities facilitated by regional NRM organisations
  • undertaking or coordinating on-ground works
  • capacity building, training and agricultural extension.”

Their report identified six key recommendations for improving how community participation outcomes can be measured. A copy of their final report can be downloaded below: