Transitioning a grant-based catchments group to achieve Nature Conservation’s ambitious goals is a lot like renovating a house while living in it. We must sustain our traditional program of grant-funded projects while at the same time finding the capacity to promote a community-wide conservation culture based on community support and partnerships. We are making steady progress but the growing pains are apparent when we push too hard.
Our thanks to the State Government for three years of capacity building funding through the Natural Resources Management Office. This, together with on-going, vital administrative funding from the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, has enabled our projects team to continue to attract and deliver our traditional programs, currently funded in large part by the AMR Shire and the Commonwealth through the South West Catchments Council.
In transitioning to Nature Conservation, our first step was to recruit new capacity to the Board and position ourselves for the launch at Voyager Estate in May. As demanding a task as this was for all concerned, the following period presents a bigger challenge. We need to make good on our commitment to champion our region’s exceptional environment through a broad community support base and strategic partnerships. We are making sound progress in strengthening our traditional partnerships and forging exciting alliances, in many cases backed up by formal agreements.
The next major step for Nature Conservation will be to bring together our new partners as a concerted team taking responsibility for integrated stewardship of our region’s environment. We have to date relied on isolation and a slow rate of development for maintaining our environmental credentials. That is clearly no longer the case. Together we need to identify a stewardship strategy that demonstrates that this is a special place that our community is committed to keeping special – as a tourism destination, premier wine region, gastronomic hub, natural playground and for the luckiest, a wonderful place to call home.
To achieve that, we must continue to address the challenge of establishing an enabling funding base and extend our paid and volunteer leadership team to break free of reliance on short-term, highly constraining grants. Our new website is primarily focused on supporting us to achieve this.