How best to reach land managers who aren’t changing behaviour for water quality improvement?

Behaviour change for best practice amongst land managers in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchment is critical to improving quality of the water flowing out to the GBR. However, decades of previous effort by a range of governments and other organisations has not always reached all GBR catchment land managers, with a minority remaining resistant to behaviour change for improved water quality. The final report of Project 2.1.3, headed by Dr Rachel Hay at James Cook University, has identified both barriers to, and enablers of, improved uptake of behaviour change efforts aimed at these less-engaged land managers. Identified barriers to behaviour change include assumptions that land managers have homogenous attitudes toward water quality improvement, assumption of profit as the only motivating factor, distrust of government agencies, confusing messaging and grant applications processes in addition to extension officers focusing their efforts on already-engaged land managers. Recommendations include upskilling extension officers in social marketing techniques (including the importance of visual imagery), addressing any anti-innovation attitudes in extension officer organisations, consistent messaging from media and industry and, importantly, tailoring messaging specifically to less-engaged land managers. The project’s early findings have already influenced behaviour change programs rolled out in 2017.


Photo: Lynne Eagle