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Grass Roots and Green Tape

Grass Roots and Green Tape

Principles and practices of environmental stewardship

By Anna Carr


The ecological alarm has sounded, and rural community groups world-wide have responded with determination and creativity to local environmental crises. Once grass roots and peripheral, these voluntary organisations are becoming increasingly central to sustaining our environment. Governments are increasingly adopting policies that devolve their economic and environmental responsibilities, placing pressure on environmental stewardship groups to assume responsibility for their local environment.

Grass Roots and Green Tape is a ground-breaking work investigating community-based environmental stewardship. It explores the dynamics within these groups, and how these groups interact with government.

Readers will find valuable information on how rural environmental groups work:

  • how a group forms
  • what keeps it motivated
  • what features of group dynamics contribute to on-ground change
  • what hinders the group process
  • what type of changes rural environmental groups are likely to make
and on environmenal groups' relations with government:
  • the extent to which stewardship groups are used by states to implement sustainable development policies
  • what forms of government support are needed to enable communities to care for their environments
  • what governments understand about group process.

Dr Carr presents the experiences of three Australian stewardship groups, each in different localities, environmental issues, people and mangement styles. These are framed by international examples from developed nations, and analysis of trends around the world.

Dr Carr focuses on the point of contact between stewardship groups and government agencies with the aim of enhancing the relationship between bottom-up and top-down stewardship/management styles. She identifies the principles and conditions under which groups can actively contribute.

Her concise analysis and friendly style makes Grass Roots and Green Tape a must read for members of community environmental stewardship groups, those developing and implementing policy at all levels, students and teachers of environment related subjects. It will also appeal to the global citizen, the layperson or anyone interested in finding out, making sense and taking action on environmental stewardship.


Preface/ Acknowledgements
Towards a common language
Stewardship Groups: in profile
Community Groups: in practice
Red Tape or Green: government involvement in environmental stewardship
Principles of community involvement
Bottom-up meets top-down: working toward middle-ground environmental stewardship
References / Index


"[A] must read for community environmental groups, those implementing and developing policy at all levels and anyone interested in environmental activity."

The Daily Planet (The Tasmanian Greens newsletter), April-July 2003

"Provides insights and a degree of analysis that will be useful for people in both communities and government working in landcare and other environmental management groups. …

This is a book about the practice of environmental stewardship at the grass roots level, and it investigates this practice mainly at the personal level of those who participate. It seems certain to me that the notion of 'stewardship' is something that will ultimately be too important to leave to personal interpretation,and that society will influence it through legislation such as 'duty of care' or, as Carr puts it, 'a state-sanctioned vision of sustainability'. For me, the challenge still remains to to integrate the 'richness' and diversity of the personal and social information documented and analysed by rural sociologists, with the 'rationalism' of the resource policy economist concerned with the efficient allocation of scarce resources. Insights from data collected by rural sociologists ultimately influence the ability of the latter to be achieved, and as such I would recommend this book to economists."

Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol 47 No 2, June 2003

"A ground-breaking work investigating community-based environmental stewardship and the role that voluntary organisations play in environmental reform across rural Australia. It is relevant to any individual or organisation working with local communities to achieve environmental outcomes."

Watershed e-newsletter, 5 December 2001

"Chapter 4 examines the practice of community-based stewardship. From my perspective, this fourth chapter is perhaps the most valuable, since it provides very good guidance on group formation and operation with realistic examples of what worked and what did not for the different groups. It emphasises the individual circumstances of each setting - social and biophysical - and the need for individual solutions in each case. Circumstances and solutions will change over time, too, so there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. Importantly groups valued their activities not simply for the products they generated but for the social and cultural rewards of the processes involved. …

[This book] includes some very useful material. Anyone wanting to establish a community group to deal with environmental stewardship issues, or seeking ways to assist an existing group, will find it a valuable guide to processes and pitfalls."

Australian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 9, September 2002

"This is a very personal work … From the dedication, through the preface and acknowledgements, through all chapters, this is Anna Carr's book - her journey through life, her conviction and hope for the future. … This book draws on her research for her PhD but presents it in a very different format.

Starting with an introduction, the book contains chapters on; language issues (defining, describing, and decrying disciplinary elitist jargon; who constitutes members of what Carr describes as stewardship groups; the role of government in environmental management; the principles of community involvement; and, finally, on top-down versus bottom-up approaches to sustainability. This last chapter (which is rather analytical) argues that neither type of approach is by itself sufficient for sustainability - it attempts to create something of a middle ground: "bottom-up meets top-down".
The book is a case study of three types of stewardship group … the Downside Landcare group in the neighbourhood of Wagga (NSW) which formed primarily to combat salinity; the Water Watchers group based in the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire south of Perth in WA, which initially sought to show that algae blooms were not due to phosphorus run-off from farms; and the Mitchell River group in Far North Queensland which was initiated to help manage the catchment. …
While it is not a practical how-to-do-it manual, community group representatives and facilitators are likely to be intrigued by the common experiences that they recognise.
It is not written in academic style but its utilisation of interview and case study enables it to address the key issues … ."

Rural Society, Vol 12 No 1, 2002


Published December 2001
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862873384
Australian RRP $33.00
International Price $30.00
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