Landcare extension - not preaching to the converted

An approach to gain interest in the Landcare ethic from the general public via an outdoor leisure show

Landcare extension - not preaching to the converted

An approach to gain interest in the Landcare ethic from the general public via an outdoor leisure show

Local Links - Stronger Communities -


The issue

“Landcare”, for some, conjures up pictures of groups of volunteers doing environmentally friendly tree plantings in community parks, complete with plastic tree sleeves, wheelbarrows of mulch and a bbq. Many of us know Landcare is so much more. In any given week we might be: employing weed spraying teams, having cups of tea with lonely farmers, cheerfully chatting to folk on the street about our work, patiently explaining why feral cats are a problem, attending indigenous led workshops dealing with on-country issues, meeting with local clubs to plan events or trying to get local council to act for on-ground issues. Whilst Landcare is really often many things, we also have a “comfort zone” which is within our “Landcare community”, the ones who already know and believe the conventional “Landcare story”. What about the other 90%?

The solution

Upper Clarence Combined Landcare proposed to use the Lismore Outdoor Leisure Show to target typical outdoors users – the 4wd, caravan and camping sector – vastly popular in Australia and participants in many land use issues. On the negative side, this community may contribute to weed spread, feral animal and pathogen spread, riparian degradation, erosion, compaction in sensitive areas, litter and toilet pollution. On the positive side, this community may also support conservation of the public environmental areas, protection from litter and degradation, understanding practices that limit the spread of weeds, pests and pathogens,  limiting erosive activities and being responsible land users. The Outdoor Leisure Show is a three day commercial trade show for many outdoor pursuits: fishing, camping, caravanning, boating, touring and other holidaying. UCCL perceived this sector to be outside the usual “Landcare” customer but a reasonable target for awareness-raising, and a mechanism for Landcare to engage with the broader community of land users.

The impact

UCCL booked a prominent stall at the show and arranged a three day presence focussing on recreation in the outdoors as relevant to a broad suite of landscape issues. The initial year’s show (2017) was arranged as a collective presentation between local landcare networks. In the second year (2018), UCCL presented the stall independently and did not use any specific survey or public engagement methods, other than displays of interest, conversations and items of information being available at the stall. In both years, interest from the public was moderate, but more often from local landholders who were at the show rather than recreational public seeking information or enlightenment. People engaged in conversations on typical land use issues such as weeds, pests, wildlife conservation, plant id, riparian management and historical land use issues.

This was not preaching to the converted as such, but it was not converting the new either.

Key facts

  • Landcare is often “preaching to the converted”
  • Effort made to seek new audience outside local Landcare’s “comfort zone”
  • We question whether presence alone is enough of an engagement in unfamiliar territory
  • Landcare community can seek to become informed of the masses just as much as the masses might become informed of Landcare