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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Landcare, Stewardship and Sustainable Agriculture in Australia

Allan Curtis and Terry De Lacy

Environmental Values 7(1998): 59-78. doi: 10.3197/096327198129341474

There are over 2,500 Landcare groups with 65,000 members operating across Australia. With considerable evidence of program impact, Landcare is an important example of state sponsored community participation in natural resource management. However, the authors suggest excessive emphasis has been placed upon attitudinal change - the development of landholder stewardship, as the lever for effecting major changes in land management. Analysis of data from a landholder survey failed to establish predicted stewardship differences between Landcare and nonLandcare respondents or between those who joined early/late, or participated more/less in group activities. And there was no relationship between stewardship and adoption for most of the sustainable agriculture practices surveyed. Further analysis clearly linked Landcare participation and concern about the environmental and economic impacts of land degradation. Whilst respondents were significantly more concerned about economic impacts, research findings were consistent with earlier work indicating that most land managers have a strong stewardship ethic. The authors also suggest that concerns that Landcare is not addressing biodiversity conservation are largely unjustified and reflect urealistic expectations of these voluntary groups.

KEYWORDS: landcare, stewardship ethic, sustainable agriculture, Australia, community participation, rural development

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