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A REVIEW OF CRADLE COAST NRM’S

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT PLANNING PROGRAM

MARCH 2009


TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents ....................................................................................................................................................... i Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................................... i PART A: Performance Story Report ...................................................................................................................1 1

Introduction ..........................................................................................................................................................2

2

Inputs .......................................................................................................................................................................2

3

Activities.................................................................................................................................................................3 3.1

Program Establishment ............................................................................................. 3

3.2

Participant Recruitment ............................................................................................ 3

3.3

PMP Preparation Process ........................................................................................... 4

4

Outputs ...................................................................................................................................................................5

5

Short-Term Outcomes ......................................................................................................................................6

6

Intermediate Outcomes...................................................................................................................................7

7

Vision .......................................................................................................................................................................9

8

Conclusion to Performance Story............................................................................................................ 11

Part B: Evaluation of the PMP Program against its assumptions .................................................... 12 1

Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 13

2

Observations About the Validity of the Assumptions .................................................................. 13

3

Recommendations for Future PMP Programs.................................................................................... 18

4

3.1

Delivery of Property Management Planning............................................................. 19

3.2

Management of Data and Information .................................................................... 20

3.3

Program Management by CCNRM ........................................................................... 21

Conclusion to Evaluation............................................................................................................................. 21

Appendix 1: PMP Program Logic ...................................................................................................................... 23

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would sincerely like to thank all the participants of the PMP program for their participation in this review. The survey was sent out at a very busy time of the year for farmers, due to the timing of the review, but the response rate under these circumstances was surprisingly good. To the 12 participants who allowed me to interview them in their homes and have a look around their properties, I sincerely thank you for your time and effort. I would also like to thank the staff of CCNRM, in particular James Shaddick and Anna Renkin, for your assistance and input at key stages of the review. I would also like to thank Mick Lehman at ARM for his assistance in helping me gain an understanding of the PMP process and for the information supplied. Dr Don Thomson Director Wynyard, March 2009.

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program, 2004 to 2008.

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PART A: PERFORMANCE STORY REPORT

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program, 2004 to 2008.

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

1

INTRODUCTION

Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program has involved 119 farm businesses covering an area of some 27,141 hectares. This represents approximately 8.2% of the farm businesses and 8.2% of the area under agricultural production across the North West region of Tasmania. That these proportions are equal means that the program has involved a representative sample of farming scales across the region. This ‘Performance Story’ report summarises how the program was delivered and discusses the short and medium-term outputs and outcomes of the program. The ‘performance story’ is based on a ‘Program Logic for the PMP program’ that was developed, retrospectively, for the purposes of the program review. The Program Logic is included as Appendix 1 of this report. This performance story is one component of a review of the PMP program undertaken by Landscape & Social Research Pty Ltd between November 2008 and February 2009 for Cradle Coast NRM. The review involved a survey of PMP Program participants (with a 46% response rate, after 2 reminder letters and follow-up phone calls to non-respondents) and on-farm interviews with 12 participants. The timing of the mailed survey was not ideal, being sent out in November – a very busy time of the year for farmers. Follow-up phone calls with non-respondents did not significantly increase the response rate, but discussions with these participants over the telephone informed the qualitative assessments provided in this review. The review concludes that the PMP program has been successful in achieving its shortterm objectives and has contributed to an improvement in environmental outcomes across the participating properties. PMP programs do provide a mechanism for holistically considering the social, economic and environmental opportunities and constraints to sustainable development of agricultural lands.

2

INPUTS

The PMP program was implemented over three phases since 2004 and was delivered by Agricultural Resource Management (ARM) under a contract with the Cradle Coast Authority. In total, 119 farm businesses, covering an area of 27,141 hectares, were involved in the PMP program. The total expenditure of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding on the program was $712,100 (see annual breakdown of participation and expenditure in Table 1). Table 1: Expenditure on the three Phases of the PMP Program Phase

No. of Participants

Total Area of Participating Farms

Expenditure (NHT)

2004/05

30 farm businesses

8,998 ha

$204,600

2005/06

39 farm businesses (55 Properties)

8,574 ha

$253,750

2007/07

50 farm businesses (83 properties)

9,569 ha

$253,750

Landholders contributed towards the cost of the PMP program (see Table 2 for the amounts contributed). The consultants (ARM) and their subconsultants provided their technical expertise and put a significant effort into the development of systems, processes and methodologies to streamline the preparation of PMPs and the overall delivery of the program. ARM also provided technical expertise and equipment in the form of differential GPS mapping tools, GIS software and computer hardware to facilitate accurate mapping and plan production.

Some refinement to the delivery of PMP would greatly enhance these outcomes. Recommendations about the areas in which improvements might be made are provided in Part 2 of this report.

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

3

ACTIVITIES

The ‘activities’ of the program, that is, the key actions that are the necessary precursors to longer-term change, are discussed below. 3.1

Program Establishment

The Cradle Coast NRM Committee engaged the consultants (ARM) through a competitive tender process, which was advertised in June 2004.

Many ‘early adopters’ were quickly recruited in the first two years of the program. The selection criteria were broadened in the third phase to enable a wider range of ‘early adopters’ to participate. This included reducing the minimum land area requirements, so that non-commercial landholders were able to participate. Farmers interested in participating in the PMP program completed a written application form, in which they could respond to the key selection criteria and state their case for participation.

A Steering Committee (comprising farmer, agency and CCNRM representatives) was established in each year of the program to set and review selection criteria and guide the process of recruiting participants. The program steering committee also met periodically through each phase, and at the end of each phase were presented with a ‘final report’ by the consultants. Through this process, refinements were made to each phase of the program. For example, in the third phase, a two-tiered delivery system was offered. In addition to the full PMPs offered in the first two phases, a ‘shortened’ process, called an ‘Environmental Management Plan’, was offered. This enabled smaller, non-commercial property owners to participate in the program.

Figure 1: Communications mechanisms - recruitment

3.2

The steering committee then assessed each application against the selection criteria. The majority of applicants were selected to participate because the demand was lower than expected and the target participation rates were high.

Participant Recruitment

Promotion of the program was principally undertaken through existing networks and contacts, particularly in the first two phases of the program. ARM and Serve-Ag (another private agricultural consultancy company) were key communications nodes, and many early participants were existing clients of these businesses.

Participants contributed a proportion of the costs of the PMP (see Table 2).

Advertisements were also placed in key regional newspapers (the Tasmanian Country, The Examiner, The Advocate) and through CCNRM newsletters and website. Yolla Producers Co-op and other rural suppliers such as Elders and Roberts were also used and information channels.

Table 2: Landholder contributions

Data from the participant survey conducted as part of the current PMP review, highlights that consultants/agronomists and the media were the two most common mechanisms through which participants found out about the PMP program (see Figure 1).

Phase

2004/05

All

None

$6,000

2005/06

All

$1,000

$5,000

2007/07

Commercial Noncommercial

$1,000 $100

$5,000 $1,000

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program, 2004 to 2008.

Landholder Contribution

Cost of PMP per participant

Landholder Type

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report 3.3

PMP Preparation Process

The PMP program was essentially delivered through a ‘one to one’ extension model. This ensured that each PMP was tailored to the clients’ needs and circumstances. In addition a series of workshops and seminars were held across a range of subjects. This provided opportunities for participants to learn in a group setting and therefore learn from each other, as well as the experts brought in by the consultants to deliver these seminars and workshops. The on-farm, ‘one to one’ extension component of the program is the core focus of this review. The ‘typical’ on-farm process involved the following:

❏ An ARM PMP facilitator was assigned to each participant and this person remained a consistent ‘face’ of the PMP process for each client.

❏ An initial farm visit by the PMP facilitator was undertaken to discuss with the clients their objectives, visions and issues relating to the farm business.

❏ The farm was then mapped using a differential GPS, with the aim of providing accurate base information to enable accurate paddock areas.

❏ Depending upon the nature of the farm and the needs of the client, a range of specialist consultants then visited the property to investigate specific aspects of the farm. Specialist input was provided in some or all of the following areas: ■

Soils and land capability

Pastures and pasture management

Weeds and weed management

Native vegetation/ biodiversity/ environmental management plan Water resource development

Consultants were drawn from within ARM and/or specialists from other consulting businesses were commissioned. The specialist consultants then prepared written reports and guidelines on their subject area, tailored to individual farms, and discussed with the ARM PMP coordinator issues and opportunities so that these could be mapped.

❏ A series of draft farm plans/maps were then prepared by ARM. Mapsheets were prepared for each area of specific interest/need – such as environmental, irrigation infrastructure, land capability – depending upon the needs of the client.

❏ The draft maps were reviewed by the client and corrections/changes notified to ARM.

❏ ‘Final’ farm maps were then presented to clients along with a lever-arch folder containing the background reports of the specialist consultants and documentation of the discussions with facilitator regarding visions and targets, action plans, etc. The extent to which the ARM facilitator discussed the outcomes of the specialist consultants’ reports and undertook strategic planning with the client was variable depending upon the nature of the farm and the needs of the client. Not all farm businesses were visited by each specialist sub-consultant. For example, irrigation consultants did not visit properties where irrigation infrastructure was not a concern of the clients. There were a few cases where participants requested visits from specific consultants due to a need to resolve specific issues and such visits did not occur. There were cases where participants cancelled appointments, making it difficult for some farm visits to be completed. In addition to the on-farm, ‘one to one’ mapping and issue identification process, participants were encouraged to attend a series of workshops covering a range of issues. Workshops were provided in each phase of the program, in the following areas: Workshops: ■

Farm financial planning

Succession planning

Farm machinery

Leasing farm ground

■ ■

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program, 2004 to 2008.

Understanding your soil and healthy soil indicators Cost-benefit analysis of irrigation Environmental accreditation and marketing Page 4


Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report ■ ■

Game management Pasture management (offered in a range of contexts, e.g. dairy pasture management workshops and workshops tailored to other enterprises and regions)

Talks: ■

Farming software and IT

Water and irrigation

Many of the workshops were offered to participants in both the Cradle Coast and North NRM regions, because ARM were concurrently running a similar program in the NRM North region.

4

OUTPUTS

assessment of the extent and type of weed infestation, native vegetation condition and extent and the length of riparian fencing required to stabilise streams across participants’ farms. Areas of habitat for rare and endangered species of flora and fauna have been identified on the participants’ properties. Geo-spatial information has been provided to CCNRM by ARM to allow aggregation of this data. Due to the form of that data, aggregating the data across the three phases of the project has not been as straightforward as it may have been. CCNRM has learnt from this experience and now have more specific guidelines that will improve the quality of the geo-spatial data provided by suppliers and service providers in the future. Figure 2: A dam and watercourse recently fenced off on a PMP participant’s property near Sheffield.

The key output of the program is the 120 property management plans, which cover an area of some 27,141 hectares. This represents 8.2% of the estimated population of farmers in the region and 8.2% of farming land in the CCNRM region. That these two proportions are the same means that the program has managed to draw a representative sample of farms in the region in terms of farm size. Another key ‘output’ has been the engagement of 120 landholders in a CCNRM program, which has raised awareness of, and engagement in, other CCNRM programs and projects. For example, 48% of PMP participants surveyed had applied for funding to fence off riparian land and 41% had applied for funding to fence off remnant vegetation. This was largely through the ‘Applying the plan’ National Landcare Program (NLP) project, set up by ARM, which allowed PMP participants to access Natural Heritage Trust funding to implement works identified in their PMPs. In addition, 47% PMP participants also sought the advice of NGOs and government agencies in further developing aspects of their farm plan. Many of these related to dam extensions or new dams, developing irrigation infrastructure and planning shelterbelts. Through the PMP program, mapping and quantification of key land management issues has been undertaken for the participating farms. This includes an

An example of how the PMP program can be used to quantify the extent of environmental works recommended on regional properties was provided by ARM in their 2008 report. This is reproduced in Table 3, below, as an example of the kind of information that should be provided in all future PMP programs on a regular basis. Table 3: Quantification of Environmental Protection Works for PMP phase 3 (2008). Source: ARM.

Environmental Protection Works

Area/Distance

Revegetation

27.5 ha

Grassed buffer zones

0.6 ha

Shelterbelt

18.2 ha

Riparian Fencing

25 km

Fencing

14 km

Wallaby Fencing

35 km

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

5

SHORT-TERM OUTCOMES

One of the key assumptions of any PMP initiative is that participants will use the plans and documentation to make physical changes to the landscapes of their farms and change their farming practices. The survey and interviews of PMP participants undertaken by this review suggests that use of the PMP plans and documentation is high. Overall, most survey respondents said they referred to their PMPs monthly (32%) or seasonally (quarterly – 28%). About 12% said they referred to their PMPs weekly and

about 7% said they looked at it daily. During the farm-visits undertaken to interview participants for this review, about one-third of the interviewees had their farm maps on the wall of their workshops and/or offices. A more accurate picture of how participants are using their PMPs was obtained from the survey, which asked the frequency of use of PMPs for particular purposes (see Figure 3). The value of the accurate mapping for guiding the work of staff and contractors and calculating areas and distances is one of the key reasons why frequency of use is high overall.

Figure 3: Frequency of use of PMP documentation for specific uses

A tangible short-term outcome of the program has been the extent to which participants have gone on to implement their plans, that is, make physical changes to the infrastructure of their farm. Survey results were quite positive in this regard (see Table 4). After only 3 to 4 years, the majority of respondents had gone on to implement works, particularly in the areas of weed control, riparian fencing, and

fencing for revegetation works. Paddock refencing to enable better grazing management was also a common area in which respondents had completed works. However, farm visits and interviews conducted as part of this review suggests that the extent of the works planned through the PMP process were, in many instances, fairly modest.

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

It is recognised that there is a balance that needs to be struck between identifying and portraying through the property plans ‘visionary’, long-term landscape outcomes and the need to not overwhelm participants with too much change, too quickly. This is most likely the reason why the proposed works are often quite minimalist, but it does raise the question as to how more significant landscape outcomes can be incrementally achieved through planning and participant engagement, capacity building and training programs. Table 4: Extent to which participants have implemented works Percent (%) of respondents mentioning works

Proportion of works completed

Weed control

80.4

54.6

Riparian fencing

78.4

62.8

Re-fencing paddocks

72.5

60.6

New irrigation infrastructure

68.6

31.4

Stock water supply

68.6

71.9

Fencing for revegetation

65.0

60.8

Tree planting

64.7

52.3

Sowing new pastures

62.7

55.3

Fencing off areas of native vegetation

62.5

70.8

Water storage (for irrigation)

60.7

45.6

Fencing off remnant vegetation

58.8

63.1

Erosion control

52.9

58.5

Soil nutrient budgeting

47.1

71.9

Water quality improvement

35.3

43.3

Work type

Survey results and the on-farm interviews conducted as part of this review suggests that the speed with which participants have started implementing their farm plans is positive. Participants were asked in the survey when they expected to complete the works identified in their PMPs across the 14 areas of farm practice listed in Table 4. For the majority of the works, most respondents indicated that works would be completed by 2010 or 2011.

6

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

The extent to which participants’ involvement in the PMP program has changed their farming practice, and/or that the physical changes made to the properties infrastructure have resulted in environmental outcomes, is a little harder to quantify. Section 5 of this performance story concluded that the PMP program has contributed to landscape change on participants’ farms. However, given that the participants in the PMP program are likely to be the ‘early adopters’ among the farming community, it is likely these people would have made changes to their farms, along the lines suggested in the PMPs, regardless. Therefore, the key issue in relation to the real contributions of the program in terms of intermediate and long-term environmental outcomes is the extent to which the PMP process has influenced the ‘balance’ of change towards more environmentally oriented outcomes. During the on-farm interviews, it was confirmed that in many cases, participants would have undertaken the works identified in their farm plans anyway. What the PMP program did for these participants was to confirm that their ideas and intentions were valid, and to give them the confidence to proceed. In many cases, the program also enabled them to access advice and funding that also sped-up their plans for implementing such works. Therefore, the PMP process is likely to have led to landscape change more quickly than would otherwise have been the case, among these ‘early adopters’.

Figure 4: A farm plan on permanent view in the workshop of a participant’s farm.

Most of the participants, therefore, will have completed the bulk of their planned works within 10 years of completing their PMPs. For weed control and pasture renovation works, many indicated that these would be ongoing in nature, which is entirely appropriate for such works.

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report Figure 5: A new fence around an existing dam. This fence is an extension of a riparian fence planned through the PMP process and part-funded through the ‘Applying the plan’ project.

One indication that the PMP process has contributed to a shift in the awareness and intentions of participants in relation to protecting and enhancing natural resources is the difference in their motives for participation compared to the skills, knowledge and capacities they reported gaining through their participation. In the survey, participants were asked to rate1 the degree to which they were motivated to participate in PMP to gain knowledge/expertise in each of 16 areas of farm management. The five top areas of practice that respondents were most motivated by were: ■

“To learn about current recommended practices from consultants” (4.6) “To get a good map of the property” (4.4) “To learn more about soils and their capacity” (4.1) “As an operational tool to help day-today management” (4.0) “To help document and record our farm management practices” (3.9).

Participants were also asked to rate2 the extent to which their participation in PMP had enhanced their capacity across 15 areas

1

Question 6 of the survey. A five-point scale was used, where 1= no motive at all to 5=very strong motive. 2 Question 24 of the survey. A 10-point scale was used, where 1 was ‘no difference at all’ and 10 was ‘significant increase’.

of farm management. Topping the list of areas in which changes in skills, knowledge and capacity had been made were: ■

Native vegetation management (5.9)

Management of riparian lands (5.9)

Weed management (5.8)

Water management (5.7)

Irrigation layout & design (5.6)

Land capability (5.6)

This represents a significant shift in the rankings of the areas of motivation to the areas in which skills and capacities have been enhanced. In other words, participants were not particularly motivated by natural resource management and environmental issues and outcomes in their decision to participate in PMP, however their awareness of and capacities in these areas have improved through their participation. Also, the areas in which works have been undertaken (see Table 4) show an emphasis towards natural resource management and environmental outcomes. The top seven areas in which works have been completed include: ■

Weed control

Riparian fencing

Re-fencing paddocks

New irrigation infrastructure

Stock water supply

Fencing for revegetation

Tree planting

The survey data therefore suggests that the PMP process has had the desired impact of influencing the trajectory of farm development and practice change towards more environmentally balanced outcomes. However, the survey data suggests that there are some gaps in the issues that received focus through the PMP process. In particular, water quality seems to have received less attention than water quantity/supply. Although riparian fencing/revegetation was clearly a focus and an area in which changes have occurred, the survey data suggests that other water quality improvement areas, such as effluent

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

management, did not receive as much attention. This may be because of the mix of industries represented in the survey sample (and indeed among the PMP participants), or it may be due the range of consultant expertise offered to participants through the PMP program. Survey data and interviews with participants suggests that there has been little increase in awareness and/or action in the management of the habitats of rare and threatened species. There appeared to be some scepticism among participants about the status of species (e.g. burrowing crayfish), and whether or not they could have a significant impact on these species by changing their management practices. This is not a criticism of ARM’s environmental management aspects of the PMP process – it is a broader issue in which there is clearly a role for CCNRM in the future to work on raising the awareness and understanding of landholders about the plight of rare and threatened species, and their management. Notwithstanding their apparent scepticism, many of the landholders interviewed were prepared to “go along with it” and apply ‘best management practices’, especially if there were subsidies available for fencing.

Figure 6: Remnant vegetation on a PMP participant’s property earmarked for fencing to encourage regeneration.

7

VISION

The vision for the program, as established from the original funding application and expressed in the ‘Program Logic’ for the PMP program is that, through their participation in the program, farmers in the Cradle Coast NRM region are achieving ‘Triple Bottom Line’ outcomes for their farm businesses. The extent to which the PMP program has contributed to enhanced environmental outcomes was discussed in Part 6 of this performance story. The conclusion of that section was that there has been a shift in awareness, skills and capacities and onground change towards improved environmental outcomes as a direct contribution of the program. The impact of the PMP program on the economic performance of participating enterprises is hard to quantify. Most of the ‘economic’ aspects of the PMP delivery were run through a series of workshops and seminars. Workshops were held in areas such as business management, succession planning, off-farm investments, software training and OH&S. However, only 52% of survey respondents said they attended a seminar/workshop. Among those who did, 78% said they were ‘very informative’ and 22% said they were ‘good’. Those who did not attend said that the seminars were held at inconvenient times and/or clashed with important farm work. Many said that there was a lack of choice and opportunity to attend alternative seminars. Another hint as to the influence of the program on the consideration of ‘economic’ conditions is that over 40% of survey participants said they ‘never’ referred to their PMP documentation in relation to making decisions about financial management. Only two of the 12 participants interviewed said that they had considered occupational health and safety issues as part of the PMP process. These participants said that the process had contributed to them making significant changes in the way they managed OH&S risks on their farms. The ultimate attainment of ‘triple bottom line outcomes’ depends on the extent to which the PMP program has been able to holistically consider all aspects of property management. Interviews with participants

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Part A: ‘Performance Story’ Report

tend to suggest that participants were not greatly challenged to think about their businesses in a holistic and strategic manner.

Figure 7: Survey respondents’ rating of the ability of the delivery style to deliver a holistic PMP

Some interviewees mentioned that they had fine-tuned their enterprise mix as a result of the agronomic advice and land capability assessment they had received through the PMP process. Other interviewees claimed that some of the detailed information they needed, such as detailed paddock plans and crop rotation information, was promised but never delivered by the consultants. Some also said that key information that they needed, or thought should be provided, was not delivered to them. This observation is not intended as a criticism of the consultants, but is mentioned to enable CCNRM and consultants delivering future PMP programs to be aware of the need to clearly define the extent of PMP services to be provided, so that participants do not have their expectations raised to levels that cannot be fulfilled. Apart from the interviews, another source of data that helps shed light on the extent to which participants have achieved triple bottom line outcomes is the survey items relating to the extent to which the delivery process allowed them to develop a holistic plan for their farm. About 35% of participants ranked the process at 8 out of 10 (where 1 = ‘not at all’ and 10 = ‘to a very high degree’). The mean response was 7.5. The distribution of responses on the 10point scale is shown in Figure 7, highlighting that there are a few participants who did not believe the delivery style was effective in delivering a holistic outcome.

Survey respondents recognised the need to ‘holistically’ look across the information provided by the consultants. In their responses, some said that because the consultants gave “heaps of time to ask questions and put forward ideas” they could work out problems. Others said that it was beneficial to have the opportunity to consider each area on its own first. Many survey respondents said that they would have benefited from follow-up visits by the consultants. This was also reflected by interviewees, who also said that there was a need to review the information provided by one consultant in the context of what the others had said. However, on the whole, interviewees said that the areas covered by consultants were separate enough and that they could balance any competing demands in their own minds.

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8

CONCLUSION TO PERFORMANCE STORY

This ‘Performance Story’ report has drawn on data from a participant survey, on-farm interviews with participants, and telephone discussions with participants who did not complete the survey. Analysis of this information suggests that the PMP program has been successful in achieving its shortterm objectives. Moreover, the PMP program has contributed to an improvement in environmental outcomes across the participating properties. The highlights of the performance of the program are that:

❏ Over 8% of farms, and a similar proportion of the total area of the Cradle Coast region utilised for agricultural production, were covered over the 3 years of the program.

❏ Participants are reporting a high degree of use of their PMPs. The accurate farm maps are of particular interest to participants and they continue to use and value these plans.

sustainable development of agricultural lands. The review has identified that there is scope to improve the delivery of property management planning in the future, which would further enhance PMP as an effective mechanism for regional NRM bodies to help achieve NRM outcomes. In particular, participants should be more involved in a clearly defined ‘design’ process. This would allow future scenarios and options for development to be considered in the context of the information provided by the accurate farm mapping and consultant input. Information from the seminars, workshops and other sources, could then be incorporated to a greater degree into decision-making about the development of properties. Through a more inclusive planning and design stage in which the future ‘landscape’ of participants’ farms are planned, more ownership of the works may also be instilled among participants. This would further improve the rate of adoption of works and provide greater appreciation of the holistic integration of triple bottom line outcomes.

❏ Participants largely reported gaining much from their participation.

❏ A large proportion of participants have gone on to implement a significant proportion of their PMPs.

❏ There has been a shift in awareness, skills and capacities and on-ground change towards improved environmental outcomes as a direct contribution of the program.

❏ The integration of, and attention to, economic (e.g. strategic business planning) and social (e.g. personal development, occupational health and safety) aspects of PMP were not as evident among participants as the agronomic and environmental facets. Many of the economic and personal development aspects of PMP were delivered through workshops and seminars, which survey data shows were attended by just 52% of PMP participants. This review has supported the assumption that PMP programs provide an effective mechanism for holistically considering the social, economic and environmental opportunities and constraints to the

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

PART B: EVALUATION OF THE PMP PROGRAM AGAINST ITS ASSUMPTIONS

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

1

INTRODUCTION

This part of the review discusses the validity of the assumptions made in developing the PMP program. It makes specific recommendations, based upon the consideration of all aspects of the review, to enable CCNRM to refine future iterations of PMP delivery.

2

OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF THE ASSUMPTIONS

The key assumptions made in the development of the PMP program are set out in the left hand column of Table 5 below. Through the review process, some comments about the validity of these assumptions can now be made. The right hand column provides some notes about the validity of these assumptions and the following section of this part of the report addresses some of the key evaluation questions and issues. Table 5: Discussion regarding the validity of assumptions made about how the PMP program would influence participants

Assumption

Observations, Issues, Validity

That the PMP process will encourage an even consideration of ‘Triple bottom line’ (TBL) outcomes, not just a 'development' focus

o On the whole, a development focus, particularly in relation to water resource development, was not observed. Environmental issues were considered and participants appear to have shifted their attention towards environmental issues and outcomes.

That PMPs will be a vehicle to direct resources to, and protect and enhance, natural values

o Natural values were identified through the PMP process. However, the transmission of this data back to CCNRM, for collation and decision-making has not been completed due to data management issues, which are being addressed. o There is significant scope to link future investments to sound, holistic planning outcomes.

That farmers will implement PMPs without further incentive

o The data from this review suggests that further incentives certainly help speed up the implementation process. o Many farmers would implement their PMPs without further incentive, if they have particular ownership of and interest in the works.

That CCNRM can deliver (PMP) funds equitably to landholders across diverse enterprises and farm scales

o A diversity of farm businesses appear to have been involved in the PMP process. The selection criteria ensured that participants reflected the industries of the region. o The later addition of smaller, non-commercial farms ensured greater representation of a common landholder category in the region. o Whether the funds were delivered equitably is an issue that could only be addressed through greater scrutiny of ARM’s time sheets and records. It would appear that there is some diversity in the per-farm expenditure, and that there could be scope for some landholders to receive more, and others less, of the consultants’ time. A way around this would be for farmers to pay the full cost of the program up-front and be reimbursed a predetermined percentage of the actual costs.

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

Assumption That information captured in PMP maps/reports will “go somewhere” (i.e. CCNRM & State Government agencies).

Observations, Issues, Validity o As discussed earlier, the use of spatial data collected through the PMP process has not yet been fully developed. o There is a range of other useful information that was collected for each PMP that should be collated and stored for monitoring and evaluation purposes. These include species lists, weed extent and native vegetation extent and condition reports that are largely held in written form in participants’ PMP documentation. o CCNRM should receive a copy of each PMP for their archives, with clear guidelines about the use of such data established so that landholders and CCNRM understand clearly the purposes for which such data can be used.

That participants will implement/use PMPs

o Survey data and interviews suggest that participants are referring to and utilising the information contained in their PMPs. The degree to which this information is used is obviously variable. o The extent to which participants will value and use their PMPs is proportional to their sense of ‘ownership’ of, and belief in, the content of the PMP. This means that the process must be designed to maximise ownership. Some suggestions about how to do this are included in the recommendations of this report.

That farmers’ knowledge leads to action

o This is a reasonable assumption, but it must be recognised that decision-making does not occur in a vacuum and that there are many competing demands on farmers. Data from this review suggests that mapping and conducting on-farm inspections of issues (for example through the environmental assessment) has raised awareness and knowledge, and (often with financial incentives) has contributed to on-farm change.

That the consultants are knowledgeable and appropriate for the task

o On the whole, PMP participants were very happy with the information provided by the consultants. o There are a few cases where respondents said that information was promised and not provided. There were also some reports of consultants ‘never coming’ (for which there are usually reasons on both sides). o There were one or two participants who complained that the consultants appeared to not be interested in their needs. o Some of the larger farmers interviewed said that the consultants seemed to be ‘feeling their way’ a bit through the process. Some of them did not think the consultants could offer them anything they didn’t already know.

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Assumption

Observations, Issues, Validity

That ‘best management practices’ (BMPs) can o There is insufficient data to make a specific response to this assumption. be readily identified. (This leads to a question: Who defines Best Management o However, it appears that the consultants were very Practices? BMPs for one practice may not be aware of the need to balance environmental and the best for NRM) economic outcomes, evidenced by the common reporting that there were no conflicts in the advice given by the consultants. o A few respondents said that the consultants’ ideas were good in theory, but impractical and costly to implement on farm. o It may be a good idea, prior to any future PMP processes, to undertake a ‘BMP mapping’ process, whereby farmers, advisors, consultants and agencies get together through a facilitated process to identify regional ‘current recommended practices’. This is a mechanism to document, promote and refine ‘best practice’ to achieve triple bottom line outcomes, and would greatly inform future PMP processes. The outcome of this activity would be a best practice manual written by farmers (with the assistance of consultants and technicians) for farmers.

That the PMP process is engaging and helps participants learn

o The one-to-one delivery style was well received and participants appear to have learned much through this approach. o The workshops were less successful in terms of their overall impact due to low participation rates (52% participated). o Among those who did participate in workshops and seminars, the majority felt that they were well run and informative. o More opportunities should be provided to enable farmers to participate in workshops, by offering a range of options for workshop formats, times, days-of-the-week and dates, wherever possible.

That 30 farm plans could be done for $200,000

o That 30 or more PMPs were completed for between $200,000 and $250,000 suggests that this scope of budget is workable. Efficiencies have been attained by engaging one team of consultants, but there may be other mechanisms to gain efficiencies (for example, directly employing a PMP facilitator and engaging specialist consultants to provide technical expertise).

That the Steering Committee is appropriate

o The breadth of membership of the steering committee was probably appropriate for the tasks required of the committee. The broader question should be: “what role should the steering committee play?”

That the steering committee could drive the program and can affect outcomes

o Without reading the minutes of steering committee meetings it is impossible to comment on this assumption.

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

Assumption That word of mouth is the best recruitment process That the predominant recruitment process (word of mouth) will draw most appropriate candidates That ‘worthy' farmers will be selected as participants

Observations, Issues, Validity o Word of mouth is probably a successful method of recruiting people that are ‘known’ by the consultants to be likely willing participants. o However, ‘willingness’ and preparedness to adopt, and/or openness to change are very different things and it could be argued that this recruitment process did not necessarily draw out the ‘best’ participants in terms of their willingness to change and the potential for participants to protect and enhance natural values. o The selection criteria and assessment process is the key process here that should overcome any potential for bias in the communication or marketing of the program. o In this context, the earlier set of assumptions about the role of the steering committee come to the fore: where there is potential for consultants to encourage their existing clients to apply for another program that they are running, the steering committee must be independent enough to ensure that the selection process does not favour existing clients of consultants engaged to undertake PMPs. This is not to suggest this occurred, but there is potential for ‘favouritism’, especially when demand for the program may be less than anticipated and there is a receptive audience of existing clients waiting in the wings.

That a ‘one- to one’ model is the 'best' approach

o ‘One to one’ extension models are often ‘best’ in ensuring information, ideas and outcomes are tailored to individuals needs and contexts. However, ‘one to one’ extension is resource intensive and also has the problem that farmers are not exposed in a direct way to the experiences and knowledge of other farmers. o However, some farmers do not like group-based extension, so there is a need to provide diverse opportunities. o Ideally, a mixture of group and ‘one to one’ (and other) delivery mechanisms is ideal. Whilst the PMP program did attempt to provide this diversity, limitations in the scheduling of workshops limited participation in the group sessions.

That a group approach would not be as effective

o Survey data shows that participants did value the one-to-one delivery method and that they would be sceptical about group-delivery mechanisms.

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

Assumption That specialist consultants will have input into proposed development decisions (i.e. a holistic outcome)

Observations, Issues, Validity o There was possibly a lack of follow-up or ongoing input from the specialist consultants due to the process adopted. The process relied on participants retaining the information conveyed by the consultants during their visits, and/or the PMP facilitator having received from the consultant the advice they provided on site, so that it could be considered and incorporated in to the plan during the ‘planning’ stage (as opposed to simply being provided in the PMP documentation at the end of the process). o Because of the lack of a ‘design step’ in the PMP process, we consider that this assumption was not valid. The specialist consultant input appears to have been provided at the time of the on-site inspections and provided in written from in the final PMP documentation. The extent to which this knowledge was applied to actual decision-making processes by the participants was difficult to determine through this review, but the interviews suggest that the specialist consultant knowledge was utilised more by the PMP Facilitator/planner than by the farmers themselves.

That independent visits by consultants are the appropriate delivery model

o If a holistic outcome is to be achieved, there should be some mechanism to allow consultants to discuss and consider, collectively, the issues they identify in their particular areas of expertise in the context of the input of other experts.

That dGPS is appropriate technology for this purpose/outcomes

o Differential GPS provides sub-meter (or better) levels of accuracy in farm mapping. This degree of accuracy is only necessary for particular considerations, such as siting and design of centre pivot irrigators or for the application of controlled traffic or other precision-farming techniques. o There could be benefits in accurately mapping or locating particular weed infestations. However, most of the plans sighted during this review did not accurately map weed infestations – they tended to provide general locations, which could just as easily been mapped from aerial photography and validated on-site. o As long as the use of dGPS does not add significantly to the cost of the mapping component of PMP, it is probably worthwhile utilising this technology. However, it should be used to its full potential and features mapped as polygons wherever appropriate, not just points.

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

Assumption That farm maps engage farmers and get ‘buy-in’ (i.e. encourage participation, improve the level of engagement)

Observations, Issues, Validity o The accurate farm maps were certainly well received by participants and commonly cited as the ‘best’ outcome of the PMP process. o Seeing their properties on an aerial photo and map is a very important mechanism for engaging farmers and enabling them to communicate effectively with consultants about the history of features of the farm, their objectives and intentions. Visualising the opportunities and constraints of the physical characteristics of the farm is a critical tool for all planning. o This raises an important question: could CCNRM achieve just as much engagement, and engender awareness of and interest in environmental issues, through a farm mapping program instead of a full PMP process? One response to this question is to suggest that an option for future PMP programs would be to deliver a staged PMP process whereby participants are first engaged in a farm mapping process, identifying the opportunities and constraints to developing their farms. Participants could then have a period of time to learn (through workshops, one-to-one farm visits by specialists, and other mechanisms) about and consider options for developing their farms. A further planning and ‘design’ phase could then be offered to enable participants to holistically plan their future of their farm businesses.

3

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE PMP PROGRAMS

There are a number of issues relating to the PMP process that, in light of the outcomes of this review, need consideration in future PMP programs. These relate to three areas: ■

The delivery of property management planning

The management of data and information

Program management by CCNRM

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Part B: PMP Evaluation 3.1

Delivery of Property Management Planning

The assumption was made that participants would learn about key aspects of property and business management from their participation in workshops and seminars, and then bring this knowledge and understanding into the PMP development process. However, there were two key weaknesses to this approach: ■ ■

Participation in the workshops was lower than expected (around 52%). The whole delivery process did not seem to allow for a ‘design phase’, in which options, concepts and ideas could be reviewed and assessed, and decisions made with the client about which way the farm should be developed.

Recommendation: 1 More opportunities should be provided for PMP participants to participate in workshops, seminars and training. Attention should be paid to scheduling workshops at more convenient times and providing options for producers by varying locations, times and formats. It is our observation that the PMP process lacked a fundamental stage: the design of the future landscape of the property that reflects a vision for the future nature of the business. Whilst participants went through a visioning process, and these vision statements were reproduced in the PMP documentation, the translation of the vision into the ‘final’ property management plan seems to have been principally undertaken by the consultants, seemingly sometimes without consultation with the clients. This has significant limitations in terms of the clients’ sense of ownership of the plan, and therefore the likelihood of complete implementation. During the interviews with participants, many reported that the ‘final plans’ were often posted back to them after they had only commented on the accuracy of the maps – in terms of existing conditions. There seemed to be little in the way of a discussion about future developments and options. Many of the participants interviewed during this review were drawing new fence-lines and infrastructure over their farm plans. This may be because they had changed their minds about aspects of their farm layout, or because the ‘future developments’ were not planned to the extent they needed during the PMP process. When prompted about this, there was a mixture of both possibilities among the participants interviewed. Recommendations: 2 The PMP process requires more clarity of purpose for each of the different phases of development of a property management plan. 3 Complementary extension activities (e.g. workshops and seminars, one-to-one discussions and farm visits) need to be better integrated and targeted towards informing key needs at each stage in the PMP process. 4 Opportunities for staged participation should be considered – for example, undertake a ‘farm mapping’ project first, then proceed to planning and design phases.

To address these three recommendations, we suggest the following process:

❏ Step 1: Development of a ‘brief’, outlining the clients’ needs, motives, values and vision. ❏ Step 2a: Mapping of existing conditions. Mapping and quantification of existing conditions on the farm and environmental values should be considered as a mapping exercise only. This is a ‘site analysis’ process, which should focus on assessing opportunities and constraints to development. Separate overlays or mapsheets for each core asset class should be prepared: land capability including soil degradation hazards; water resources; native vegetation/habitat; weeds; existing physical infrastructure (laneways, paddocks, buildings, stock water, irrigation, services, etc.).

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

❏ Step 2b: Benchmarking and quantification of the economic and human capital of the farm. This may not involve ‘mapping’ as such, but will involve documenting, benchmarking and exploring opportunities and constraints of the farm business in terms of human and financial capital.

❏ Step 3: Research and visioning. This step should involve fact-finding about how to build on the identified opportunities of the farm and overcome the constraints identified in the previous steps. It is at this stage that participants should be involved in workshops, seminars and one-to-one discussion so that they can be fully informed of a range of ways in which their farm could develop, both physically, economically and in terms of their own personal development. This process would culminate in a series of ‘scenarios’ or development concepts.

❏ Step 4: Selection and refinement of the ‘best’ development scenario or option. This is essentially a design step, in which the preferred concept/scenario is translated into a workable, physical form on the physical farm. The outcome is the ‘farm plan’, which hangs on the wall as a guide to future development. This is opposed to an ‘existing conditions’ plan which might be used as a method of documenting current works and practices.

❏ Step 5: Action planning. At this stage, the step-by-step actions that need to be undertaken to implement the ‘farm plan’ is documented. These are essentially the specifications that more fully explain the ‘blueprint’ that is the ‘farm plan’. Additional workshops and seminars targeted towards implementing their ideas, would further build the capacity of landholders to implement their plans. As a means of enhancing ownership, through ensuring more effective and ‘real’ engagement in the PMP process, participants really need to feel as though they have more of a stake in the process. For this reason, it is suggested that the option of having participants pay for the PMP service up-front, then receive a set subsidy (at a set percentage of the cost), paid at key stages in the process, be considered. This approach may also minimise the chance of participants having the sense that consultants are ‘milking the system’ and would also ensure greater equity in the allocation of consultants’ time and commitment across all participants.

Recommendation: 5 That CCNRM investigate the option of participants paying an up-front cost of the PMP process, then receiving a subsidy. Costs could be paid in stages and the subsidy paid at the completion of each stage to assist the cashflow of participants. This may increase participants’ commitment to, and ownership of the outcomes of, the PMP process.

3.2

Management of Data and Information

If CCNRM is to use the valuable data collected through any farm mapping or PMP process, the data needs to be aggregated and delivered in a form useful to CCNRM in its monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities. CCNRM has now developed more specific guidelines for consultants providing spatial data, and this will greatly assist in this process. Also, to enable future monitoring of the impact of participation in programs like PMP, the spatial data (from the farm mapping component of PMPs) and the written information reporting on the outcomes of farm inspections, should be collated and provided, along with metadata, to CCNRM. Recommendation: 6 That data reporting requirements be clarified with consultants prior to future PMP program rounds so that data capture and processing is as efficient as possible.

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Part B: PMP Evaluation 3.3

Program Management by CCNRM

There were two main issues raised by participants that are potentially detrimental to the longterm perceptions of the community towards CCNRM. The two issues of most concern are that: ■

There are some cases where participants said that information was collected on-farm that they thought would be provided as part of the PMP process, but the consultants reportedly said constituted additional work and could not be provided without additional costs. There is a perception among a significant enough proportion of participants that the PMP program was a ‘cash cow’ for consultants and that the outcomes did not represent ‘value for money for the government’.

The first of these issues, if accurately perceived, points to an apparent lack of clarity in contractual arrangements concerning ownership of data and the scope of work to be provided by the consultants to PMP participants. The second point is of concern because it may taint the reputation of CCNRM in the eyes of the community, and perhaps the Australian Government, who provided the majority of the funds for the program. Whether or not the consultants’ fees are excessive is not the subject of this review, but it is the perception of the community that is important here. It may be the case that those who have expressed this opinion did not receive a service that they considered was good value for money, either because of gaps in delivery, or because their expectations could not be fulfilled. If it were not for this review, participants with this opinion would not have had an opportunity to express their concerns. However, it is difficult through a review process such as this to check the accuracy of such claims without compromising the privacy and confidentiality of participants. It is important that future programs, especially those principally managed by a consultant team, have mechanisms in place to enable participants to voice concerns. It is also important that project steering committees are effective in monitoring the progress of programs/projects, and are able to foresee potential issues such as these.

4

CONCLUSION TO EVALUATION

A key step in the process of conducting this review was the retrospective development of ‘program logic’ for the PMP program. This enabled a more thorough assessment of not only how the inputs, actions, outputs and outcomes of the program transpired, but also the validity of the assumptions that underpinned these linkages. The performance story component of the review has shown that there have been identifiable benefits for participants and the natural resource assets of the Cradle Coast region through the PMP program. The investment made and the key actions and activities have led to physical outcomes in terms of landscape change as well as shifts in the capacity of participants to plan and implement works focussed on improving the sustainability of their enterprises. The review has identified that on the whole the PMP program has been well conceived and delivered. By considering the assumptions underlying the program, and in the context of the data from the survey and interviews, it has been possible to make specific recommendations about how to improve PMP delivery in the future. The recommendations of the evaluation are that in future PMP programs CCNRM and their stakeholders and proponents pay attention to: ■

More clearly defining the stages of development of a PMP, with closer attention paid to the linkages between stages – i.e. that the outcomes of one stage form key inputs to the next stage in the process. This is particularly important at the ‘design’ stage. In this stage, the physical (natural resource), economic and social opportunities and constraints of the current farm business should be considered in the context of the vision for the future, and

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Part B: PMP Evaluation

a consideration of a range of development scenarios. PMP participants need to be more involved in this ‘design’ stage, so that they have more ownership of the PMP. ■

Timing of complementary activities, such as seminars and workshops, should be planned in a manner that fulfils the information needs of participants at each stage of the PMP process. It is also recommended that a wider range of opportunities be provided in relation to the delivery of workshops/seminars so that participants have more chance of being able to participate (i.e. vary the location, timing and format of events). Refining the processes of recruitment and the provision of subsidies to offset the costs of consultancy services to participants. It is suggested that a staged payment of a subsidy be utilised as a means of ensuring continued ‘ownership’ of the PMP by participants and to ensure that any perceptions that consultants are ‘milking the system’ are minimised. It is often the case that people value more highly the ‘things’ they have paid for themselves, so paying more of an up-front contribution may enhance the level of engagement of landholders in the PMP process. The management of spatial and other data collected through the PMP process needs to be more clearly defined so that there is more ability to collate and report data. There needs to be more clarity around the extent of services provided by consultants through the PMP process so that expectations are not raised that cannot be fulfilled.

With these refinements, a PMP program can continue to meet a number of objectives for CCNRM in the delivery and integration of a wide range of NRM programs. PMP has successfully built the capacity of those involved, raised awareness of a range of environmental issues, contributed to the achievement of integrated, triple bottom line outcomes and raised the profile of CCNRM among a key sector of the Cradle Coast Region – namely primary producers.

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Appendix

APPENDIX 1: PMP PROGRAM LOGIC Vision

Triple bottom line outcomes for farm businesses in the Cradle Coast NRM region

Intermediate Outcomes

Participating farmers are adopting Best Management Practices (BMPs) PMP program is contributing to State Priorities from NRM Framework, Tasmania Together, Regional NRM Strategy, Regional Plans and Strategies and State Property Management System Framework Farmers have operational Farm Plans and are implementing them Key areas of high environmental value are protected and being managed to conserve and enhance these values

Short-term Outcomes

Areas at risk of erosion mapped Critical habitats for threatened species is identified on participating properties Extent of remnant vegetation mapped on participating properties Extent of weeds mapped on participating properties Area for revegetation identified (e.g. riparian zones) PMP includes a 'development plan' or a visionary plan for how the farm will look/operate in the future Relevant BMPs are identified/understood by participating farmers through the advice of consultants Areas of high nutrient runoff are identified on participants’ properties Participants have improved capacity/skills/knowledge, leading to enhanced business management Water resources quantified and mapped and threatening processes identified

Outputs

No. of plans Quantum of works proposed Area covered by plans

Activities

Establish a Steering Committee, hold SC meetings Media articles, radio interviews Recruitment process based around key selection criteria On-site meeting with farmer and facilitator; farm inspections Inspections by specialist consultants Workshops Presentations to farmer groups as part of recruitment process GPS mapping of properties

Inputs

Funding from Natural Heritage Trust Participants’ cash contributions Expertise from consultants and technicians Participants’ time, experience and expertise

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Appendix

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM’s Property Management Planning Program, 2004 to 2008.

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Profile for Cradle Coast Authority

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM's Property Management Planning Program  

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM's Property Management Planning Program_Project Summary 2009

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM's Property Management Planning Program  

A Review of Cradle Coast NRM's Property Management Planning Program_Project Summary 2009