Wet Tropics NRM showcased at National NRM Conference

Kathryn Dryden
July 5, 2016

Terrain's Bart Dryden with George Negus who facilitated the conference.

Terrain's Bart Dryden with George Negus who facilitated the conference.

Terrain staff recently presented to over 300 delegates from all over Australia at the 6th National NRM Knowledge Conference – People, Planet and Profits.

Attendees included practitioners from regional natural resource management (NRM) organisations like Terrain, Australian and State/Territory agencies, and non-government organisations. They gathered in Coffs Harbour early in June to share knowledge and experiences in NRM.

Seven Terrain staff attended and contributed by presenting four papers and two virtual posters to the conference.

Terrain’s CEO Carole Sweatman said, “We were one of two regional bodies from Queensland who presented amongst the many sessions at the event. The information and experiences we shared were very well received.”

Penny Scott presented with SEQ Catchments about the importance and methodology for measuring outcomes, influence and impact made by NRM, community and industry partners. Her session was entitled ‘Beyond Widgets! Measuring the true value and legacy of regional delivery’.

Penny said, “We have been invited to visit regional bodies in other states around Australia to present our methodologies, so that they can learn how to better measure and communicate about the difference they are making in NRM.”

Terrain’s Reef Team Leader Deb Bass, presented on ‘Eight years of investment in improving water quality off farms in the Wet Tropics: How has this changed farming practices?’

She said, “Mine was the only presentation on Reef-related work at the conference. People were interested in how we were going to evaluate the impact of the program in terms of leaving a legacy – an issue all regional bodies aim to achieve.”

Steve Bailey led a round table session on ‘Building strategic and successful partnerships with Traditional Owner groups for better on-ground outcomes’. This is a subject he knows well due to his ongoing work with various indigenous groups in the Cairns area.

Leading another round table session, Marin Haldane focussed on ‘Community designing for community: Click to apply’. This discussion detailed Terrain’s approach to how we manage our information and databases and its role in organisational efficiencies and building partner relationships.

Two digital posters were also shown throughout the days of the conference – one showing the navigation of the Wet Tropics Plan for People and Country, and the other detailing the mahogany glider habitat protection program in the Herbert - ‘Connecting the Dots’.

Not only did Terrain have a presence at the conference, but staff took home some fantastic information and connections that has inspired and motivated them.

Deb said, “Professor Robert Costanza (ANU) spoke about the critical role environment plays in our ‘quality of life’ despite the focus on economic growth. I thought his presentation was a powerful message to everyone: that we need to focus on sustainable life as a measure of well-being rather than material wealth.”

Another presenter of interest, particularly to agriculture was Richard Heath from the Australian Farming Institute. Deb said, “His presentation was titled ‘Profitability driving social and economic outcomes’. 

“He spoke about how digital agriculture is leading the way for farming change that has increased profitability through reducing inputs and therefore matching environmental demand. This type of

farming is data driven, not using old rules of thumb or guess work to apply fertiliser and pesticides, thereby making it far more efficient than other farming practices.”

Overall, Terrain’s attendance at the conference is considered to have been of benefit to the region. Carole said, “It’s important that we take the opportunity to share our learnings with our counterparts and partners so that there is a good understanding of the importance of the role of regional NRM bodies. We have a lot to be proud of in the Wet Tropics and Terrain is leading the way in many aspects of our business.  It is also very important that we learn from others, there is always something new and exciting that might help us do a better job.

“The conference was also a fantastic event for building relationships and networks to improve efficiencies and collaborate where possible.”