Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours)
School of Earth & Environmental Science
Rankin, Caitlyn, The People Driving Biodiversity. An investigation of the effectiveness of a community-based bushcare program using the community capacity framework, Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours), School of Earth & Environmental Science, University of Wollongong, 2013.
Throughout Australia, biodiversity losses are not slowing down. In New South Wales (NSW) habitat values are threatened by degradation and fragmentation from industrial, residential and urban development. Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) plays a crucial role in allowing people to contribute to addressing biodiversity losses at local and regional levels. Amid habitat fragmentation, conservation depends on the actions of these community volunteers and their experiences in CBNRM programs. One of the major challenges facing CBNRM programs is ensuring that they have long-term social and environmental success.
Drawing on volunteer research this study uses the community capacity framework to analyse the factors which influence success in the Shoalhaven City Council (SCC) Bushcare Program. The variables used to explore volunteer participation were motivation, commitment, and satisfaction, as well as the respondents’ level of social and human capital and the perceived effects on natural capital. A survey was completed by 197 Bushcare volunteers in the Shoalhaven Local Government Area (LGA).
The community capacity framework is a useful and practical construct for exploring the factors which contribute to successful CBNRM programs. The Bushcare volunteers are motivated by a variety of reasons; however, the motivation to do something important was the only indicator for both desire and fulfilment that was associated with strength of commitment. Their high level of commitment was also related to their age, frequency of participation and skills in identifying ecological attributes. The Bushcare volunteers represent a valuable investment in human and social capital. They are satisfied individuals who have a high regard for reciprocating helpful behaviour and ensuring quality communication. Strong bonding social capital is present in the Program; however, bridging social capital appears to be a significant weakness. The Bushcare volunteers revealed that their concern for biodiversity followed a human-centred rather than a biocentric perspective. This did not affect their view that biodiversity is important and that it must be conserved. The Bushcare volunteers have gained knowledge and skills and perceive SCC Bushcare to be effective in improving biodiversity in the Shoalhaven. The results of the study suggest that Bushcare in the Shoalhaven represents a CBNRM program which is both a social and an environmental success.