Collaboration draws closer in the field

12 JULY 2019

Collaboration draws closer in the field

Collaboration between landholders and ILWS ecologists and social scientists moved closer after meetings to develop a joint paper that explains the place of reconciliation ecology in intensive irrigation agriculture in South Eastern Australia.

Some members of the National Agricultural Production and Reconciliation Ecology Centre, or NAPREC, met again with the ILWS group led by Professor Max Finlayson to complete the final groundwork for a joint paper on 21 May in Deniliquin, in the NSW Murray Valley region.

The paper explores the place of reconciliation ecology in agricultural landscapes in South Eastern Australia.

Professor Finlayson said that the meetings and subsequent work have highlighted the advantages of working with passionate members of the community in applied ecological research.

“The best approach is to talk together before we ask the questions – get to know each other, where we agree and where we don’t, and why, and do that in a respectful way,” Professor Finlayson said.

“By working with farmers and other land users from the very beginning, we can establish the relationships that are needed to get better understanding and buy-in to what we do in regional areas.

“Landowners have incredible local knowledge, they have the local networks, and an understanding of their communities. We must tap into this incredible resource with empathy and a clear understanding of where they and we want to go,” he said.

Chair of NAPREC, Ms Louise Burge, believes the discussions build on close relations already forged between farmers and researchers, and the important issues for natural resource management (NRM) in the region.

“In the paper, we analyse the key elements that can deliver long-term success,” Ms Burge said.

“We hope through a close partnership between landholders and researchers that we can build shared understanding on the parts of NRM that will build opportunities and enhance both the environment and regional communities.”

The six member group finalised discussions around the place of reconciliation ecology in the region, case studies of successful and not so successful implementation of NRM projects in the region in recent decades, and how aspects of reconciliation ecology can be implemented on private land in the region.

A final draft is now being completed by ILWS and NAPREC members before being presented back to a broader NAPREC community group in Deniliquin in October this year.

It is hoped this meeting will endorse the concepts expressed in the paper and develop the next steps for NAPREC in its growing collaboration with ILWS.

“The work to date is a great example of where people from universities and communities can come together to explore ideas,” Ms Burge said.

Ms Burge thanked the joint working group drawn from different fields of interest for their continued commitment to explore ideas as part of the concept of reconciliation ecology.

The members of the ILWS team include Drs Jen Bond, Damian Michael, and Wes Ward as well as PhD student Michael Vanderzee, led by Professor Finlayson.

Media Note:

For interviews with Drs Jen Bond, Damian Michael, and Wes Ward, contact Chris Gillies at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0439 068 752 or

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Wagga Wagga Agricultural Science ILWS