Case Studies

Project Case Studies

Case Study A

Rangelands R&D Program project in the Western Division of NSW

Case Study B

A Rangelands R&D Program project in the Central Highlands of Queensland

Case Study C

Research on the re-introduction of large pieces of wood into streams

Program Case Studies

Case Study D

The National Riparian Lands R&D Program

Case Study E

Land Water & Wool

Case Study F

National Dryland Salinity Program

A Rangelands R&D Program project in the Central Highlands of Queensland

Case Study B

This project was based around an action learning approach to test how improved access to NRM information, combined with improved institutional structures and facilitated negotiation processes, could enable a regional community to improve natural resource use and more-effectively interact with government policy and program development. The project outputs were of necessity long-term, so ensuring legacy was a crucial part of the work from its planning phase.

The project team collated a wide range of existing NRM data and, together with regional organisations, developed the Central Highlands Resource Information System (CHRIS). Not only was CHRIS made widely available throughout the region to all groups or individuals who wished to access its data, it also included technical support and interpretation as well as a system of auditing of regional resource use. This was a key resource left in the region at the conclusion of the project.

The project team also established, following wide regional consultation, a series of Regional Sector Groups whose function was to enable discussion within particular groups of stakeholders (for example local government, agriculture, mining, conservation, human services) of issues important to that sector in use of natural resources (for example water) and the development of action plans to deal with perceived sustainability issues. Sectoral views were then raised and negotiated across sectors in a Regional Coordination Committee to develop consensus and integrated NRM plans for which the region could then seek external support for their implementation. These institutional structures, combined with discussion and negotiation processes were also a crucial part of the project legacy left within the region. The many local people involved in the project who both contributed and gained new knowledge and skills (including regional and group facilitators) were another vital component of the legacy.

The third function of the project was the recording and evaluation of the processes used in it, identification of the critical success and failure points, and advice on options to further improve regional resource use planning. This knowledge was disseminated through papers and presentations during the course of the work and as part of the project legacy at completion.

By Phil Price, former Program Manager

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Land Water & Wool

Case Study E

Land, Water & Wool was the most comprehensive natural resource management (NRM) research and development program ever undertaken by the Australian wool industry. It was a five-year collaboration between Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI), Land & Water Australia and 39 other research, educational and extension partners.

The Land, Water & Wool program developed more than 50 research-based information products to assist woolgrowers and their advisors interpret and apply the key findings emerging from the program in a commercial wool production environment. The program targeted Australian woolgrowers with research and information resources for high priority NRM issues to drive awareness and adoption of improved management practices at the farm and regional scale.

Given the research has the potential to impact on more than one quarter of the Australian landscape, including ecological assets of high significance that are privately managed by Australian woolgrowers, legacy was an important aspect of the program’s communication process.


A major synthesis process was undertaken in the final year of the program (2006-07), and forming part of this process was the development of a ‘Communication Program Handover Strategy’ by the Land, Water & Wool Communication Coordinator (Currie Communications). This strategy aimed to facilitate the effective ‘handover’ of appropriate and relevant program communication activities, information resources and intellectual property to ensure such resources were appropriately archived for fast, secure and long-term access.


The overarching Land, Water & Wool Communication Strategy had 3 key areas of investment:

  • External Stakeholders
  • Internal Stakeholders
  • Corporate Affairs

Each dealt broadly with elements including knowledge development and management, motivation and awareness, advocacy, products and services, monitoring and evaluation and risk management.

Following extensive consultation with Land, Water & Wool investment partners, the following parameters were identified as being essential elements required by the Handover Strategy:

  • Audit of knowledge and information resources (e.g. Product Summary)
  • History of communications relationships and associated risks
  • Log of ‘go to’ people for future reference; relationships map – who has the knowledge and is considered the custodian of the knowledge in the long-term?
  • Determination of the on-going role of woolgrower/advisor networks associated with the program (and linkages to AWI’s new NRM Strategy)
  • What do current intellectual property agreements mean for future use?
  • A clear understanding of the ‘operating costs’ and benefits of continuing to manage Land, Water & Wool information; potentially including scoping out potential future expected demand and develop forecasts of costs for warehousing, postage, distribution, etc for administration and budgeting purposes
  • Lifecycle planning (up to 5 years for some ‘high success’ products)
  • Linkages to the program’s Monitoring and Evaluation strategy to evaluate awareness/demand as well as any likely future adoption or practice change initiated by the information resources.

Other elements of the Handover process considered by Currie, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd and Land & Water Australia, included:

  • determining the future of the Land, Water & Wool ‘brand’ as an effective, future ‘trademark’ for AWI
  • ensuring ‘significant’ products and services were secure in master format for future updating, reference or replication
  • developing a separate handover process for on-line resources Land Water & Wool website and determining the appropriate ‘host’ agency and custodians for such resources if it was not to be the core program partners.

By Kim Mitchell, Currie Communications

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National Dryland Salinity Program

Australia’s National Dryland Salinity Program (NDSP) was a decade-long program run over 2 phases by Land & Water Australia and comprised 12 investment partners. A major knowledge and adoption legacy activity for the NDSP was to initiate an enhanced communication year between 2004-05 to help distill the key findings from the program and develop resources to help put the research outcomes directly into the hands of land and water resource managers facing a salinity issue.

The NDSP Enhanced Communication Year involved the establishment of a writing team (one for each key audience) and a networks team (which was responsible for delivery and marketing activities).

Supporting this approach was a Monitoring and Evaluation team, which worked with a number of consultancies to finalise a final review of all program activities, as well as the Land & Water Australia communication team. This provided significant support for on-line resources and stakeholder liaison. The NDSP Program Manager and the National Communication Coordinator (Currie Communications) facilitated the interaction and integration between all of these people and external suppliers (designers, etc).

Crucial to the success of such an ambitious undertaking was securing the support (financial and in-kind) of existing investment partners as well as attracting the attention of new partners.

Legacy outcomes

The resulting legacy outcomes included:

  • a series of nationally-focused management resources (Managing Dryland Salinity in Australia) designed for policy, catchment management and farming audiences (marketed as the ‘salinity survival kit’)
  • a comprehensive on-line resource ( and other electronic materials
  • continuation of most NDSP knowledge and adoption activities by the CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity beyond the NDSP Enhanced Communication Year

The relationship formed with the Cooperative Research Centre for Salinity was particularly important from a long-term communication perspective, with the CRC Salinity employing 4 of the 5 former State-based NDSP Communication Coordinators post NDSP and assuming ownership of the NDSP’s flagship publications ‘SALT Magazine’, ‘Focus on Salt’ newsletter, the email-based discussion forum SALTLIST, and numerous other program information resources which continue to be utilised to this day.

The NDSP ‘Managing Dryland Salinity in Australia’ information resources ‘sold out’ within a period of 15 months of launch, significantly assisted by a series of regionally-based ‘sell in’ activities with key stakeholders, a major launch and media campaign and via marketing through NDSP and partner networks and targeted major events.

A completely revised and updated CD of the full resource kit, together with a further 110 papers and other salinity management information resources, was published in October 2006, while a review of the success of the NDSP ‘Managing Dryland Salinity in Australia’ resource and the outcomes of the NDSP Enhanced Communication Year was finalised in December 2006.

Website: National Dryland Salinity Program

By Kim Mitchell, Currie Communications

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Rangelands R&D Program project in the Western Division of NSW

Case Study A

There had been many reviews and enquiries into the use and management of the land and water resources of the Western Division of NSW, going back to the 1920s and even earlier. The project team were well aware that their R&D was on its own not going to deal with all the NRM issues, and that its outputs would be just one of many sources of information. From the outset, the project team thought about what they were going to leave behind at the completion of the project, and how to make sure it was both useful to, and used by, a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals with responsibilities and/or interests in the Western Division.

Their starting point was to identify as many of those organisations, groups and individuals as they could and define their responsibilities and interests. They also prepared maps of the key types and sources of information relevant to land use and NRM in the Division, including the interactions between them. This enabled the team to see who the key players were in effecting change, and how their project’s data and outputs needed to be fitted with other knowledge in order to deliver coherent and consistent information that would be used by land managers, policy makers, agribusiness, politicians, conservation interests and the general community.

As part of their actions to ensure project legacy, the project team put a lot of effort into engaging with organisations and people both within and external to (for example State government policy makers) the Western Division.

Time was taken to explain the purpose of the project, how the outputs could assist the different groups to meet their own objectives, and to build trust and confidence.

Project outputs and knowledge were packaged and delivered in quite different ways to suit the differing needs of the range of target audiences; this was reflected in the different types of products available at project completion.

The project team integrated their work into the West 2000 Strategy being managed through the NSW Government, and helped to develop awareness and increase the skills of key players by involving them in the research process itself. Workshops and visits within the Western Division helped those living there to consider the many issues involved in sustainable land use and management, and to understand where data and knowledge on this topic could be obtained.

These actions to achieve legacy helped to ensure that even though the speed of the political process far outstripped that of the R&D and of the community’s ability to process new information and reach decisions, the R&D project left behind a lasting benefit through increased awareness and understanding, new information and better access to it, and a willingness by different interest groups to engage with each other.

By Phil Price, former Program Manager

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Research on the Re-introduction of large pieces of wood into streams

Case Study C

Over a period of 10 years LWA supported work on this topic by the same scientist, initially as a postgraduate research project identifying the key principles, then through a large research and demonstration project that aimed to test and evaluate re-introduction techniques in real life on two high-energy streams. At the commencement of the work little thought was given to project legacy, but with the success of the second study this became an important issue as there was increasing interest in wood re-introduction but few, if any, evaluations of past on-ground works.

Three approaches were adopted to build legacy. The first was to engage the relevant State agency in the re-introduction work so that its staff (initially skeptical) could see for themselves the construction methods and how the replaced wood withstood large flood events. Winning over the staff and the local community, and allaying their fears that re-introduced wood would be washed downstream and threaten valuable infrastructure such as bridges, was a crucial step in getting wood re-introduction to be taken seriously.

The next step was to publicise the work to river and catchment managers, community groups and engineers. This was done through articles in RipRap, a magazine focusing on river and riparian research, as well as presentations and discussion at a series of workshops on different aspects of riparian management held in all States and Territories so that people could talk to the researcher direct. These workshops were run across the country and included a field component so that the researcher could show in ‘real life’ how the theory could be put into practice.

The final step for legacy was to provide the details of the re-introduction methods, and the evaluation of the LWA-funded demonstration project, in a 'Design Guideline for Reintroducing wood into Australian Streams’ that enables others to plan, implement and evaluate their own wood re-introduction project. These next steps were supported by LWA well after the research had been completed, but in order to make sure the legacy from the initial investments was maintained.

By Phil Price, Technical Adviser

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The National Riparian Lands R&D Program

Case Study D

The National Riparian Lands R&D Program undertook thirteen years of research into how riparian areas function, how they can be better managed, and how to engage local communities in protecting, maintaining and rehabilitating these important parts of the landscape. The program had a strong focus on knowledge and adoption activities. Publications were developed for audiences at a range of levels, as well as innovative CDs, web-based products and magazines like RipRap.

Planning for the legacy of the program began half way through its second phase (2004) when a series of activities were developed to signal to stakeholders that the program was ending, but that all the information it had produced was available in a variety of different forms suitable for different audiences (technical and non-technical).

Key activities

Working with industry to translate science for different commodity groups

Different agricultural industries across Australia have different cultures, norms and ways of doing things. This was recognised by the National Riparian Lands R&D Program when it worked with the sugar, cotton, dairy and wool industries to tailor information for their stakeholders. It became apparent that a sugar grower would not read anything written for a wool grower and visa versa. This meant that considerable effort was made to ‘get inside’ each of these agricultural industries to ensure that the information produced was relevant and meaningful to that particular audience.

Colloquial language was used to describe local river and riparian management issues so that it was easily understood and could slot into day to day production of the particular commodity being focused upon. Case studies were used widely to show how the science that was being recommended could be put into practice.

Oral histories showing how families over generations had managed their rivers and streams were used to foster community spirit and demonstrate the importance of waterways to the region’s history.

Out of this work has come a series of guidelines, CDs and oral histories that are valued by the industry concerned because they were written for them, with considerable input from them to ensure that they ‘hit the mark’. The ongoing legacy is that these guidelines are now drawn upon in the sugar, cotton, dairy and wool industries for recommended codes of practice and environmental accreditation processes.

Taking researchers into the regions

National series of workshops

At the end of both phases of the Riparian Program (2000 and 2005-06) workshops were run in each State and Territory. Researchers who had undertaken work on the program presented their research findings to people invited by the hosts of the workshop to attend.

Demand for these workshops was very high, with the 2005-06 series resulting in all States and Territories visited requesting more be organised. Each workshop had between 25-35 participants, drawn from government NRM departments or Catchment Management Authorities and equivalents. Workbooks and a CD that had all the presentations on it were provided so that people could refresh their memories when they returned back to their offices. Land & Water Australia facilitated and managed the workshops, as well as paying for the researchers to attend. The host State and Territory organised participants, venue and catering.

Qualitative responses highlighted the value participants place on being able to talk directly to the researchers who did the work, as well as the professionalism and organisation of the workshops. As a model of knowledge and adoption, taking researchers out to the regions is clearly a good approach as people feel they can access science but have it placed within their local context.

Principles of Riparian Land Management

Synthesis publication

At the end of Phase One of the National Riparian Lands R&D Program a two volume publication was produced called the ‘Riparian Lands Management Technical Guidelines’. This document brought together all the science that had been undertaken into a handy reference document. As the second phase of the National Riparian Lands R&D Program came to an end an updated scientific publication was produced to provide people with access to the current thinking and literature on various riparian lands management processes.

Principles for Riparian Lands Management had chapters written by all of the scientists that worked on the program, as well as others who were involved in riparian research. This made the publication an excellent reference document for those involved in river and riparian management and who want to understand in detail the science behind recommended management practices.

National Riparian Lands R&D Program

Legacy CD

This CD brought together all of the research, publications, tools and key scientific references from thirteen years of work in the program onto one handy, easy to access product. The material is organised against eight management issues for those users that want to understand a particular riparian issue and how the science that has been undertaken supports the recommended practical guidelines. For those users that don’t want to access the information by management issue, alternatives are provided so that the CD also works like a website, containing all the information produced by the program.

Tier 1 Important management issues

Tier 1 focuses on management issues identified by landholders and catchment management groups as being important. It provides a practical introduction to the topic with a PowerPoint presentation that can be modified and used to present applied management information for landholders to use on-farm.

Tier 2 User access to publications & tools

Tier 2 enables the user to access those publications and tools that provide the scientific data and principles that underpin the recommended management practices for each objective. It has a complete set of all the publications and CDs produced by the program, with some broken up into easy to use smaller ‘chunks’ of information.

Tier 3 User access to scientific papers

Tier 3 takes the user to the relevant scientific papers published in refereed journals and books, providing confidence that the recommended management actions are underpinned by high quality, peer-reviewed science.

The idea behind the CD was to enable end-users to access the information from the Program at a number of different levels and to continue disseminating findings to audiences across Australia. Putting the research into the hands of those who will use it and continue to build on and develop better ways of managing riparian lands has always been important to this Program, the legacy CD is a good example of how this can be done even after the Program has finished.

Establishing, valuing and maintaining relationships

The National Riparian Lands R&D Program has placed a high value on taking time to establish and maintain relationships between researchers, stakeholders, people working on the program, and the general public. This has required, above all, taking the time to listen to people and understand what it is that they need in terms of information about riparian lands management.

The RipRap magazine has been used to keep everyone in touch with the latest findings in river and riparian management, as well as being a vehicle for others to feature their work and activities. Workshops have meant that people can get together with the scientists and talk about issues affecting their riparian management. Informal BBQs and dinners, celebrating achievements, and generally having a good time have kept the research team close knit and happily working together.

Allocating resources for relationships is fundamentally important to any successful project or program - it is important to make people feel valued and special. This is what makes people feel good about the work they are doing and want to pass on what is learnt to others even when the project or program has finished.

Program website

To view the work of the program, including the range of publications, visit the River Landscapes website.

By Siwan Lovett, Program Coordinator

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