Sharing river management knowledge with Landcare – Kerstie and Lori’s Twinning Story

Twinning Partnership

Kerstie Lee – Up2Us Landcare Network, Lori Gould – Australian River Restoration Centre, Rivers of Carbon

Lori Gould and Kerstie Lee at Rivers of Carbon 'Australind' Event. Photo Mary Bonet
Lori Gould and Kerstie Lee at Rivers of Carbon ‘Australind’ Event. Photo credit: Mary Bonet

Our Goals:

Kerstie is a Landcare Facilitator who has experience in engaging many different people, but she wanted to improve her scientific and technical knowledge relating to river management. Being paired with Lori through the Twinning program offered her the opportunity to improve this knowledge in a practical manner.

The project’s goals were two-fold. Firstly it was to engage with angler groups to establish a positive relationship so that river health objectives could be facilitated cooperatively. Secondly it was to develop revegetation plans on high priority angling rivers within the Mansfield Shire boundaries.

Planting native vegetation for fish habitat, UptoUs Landcare Group. Photo credit: Kerstie Lee
Planting native vegetation for fish habitat, UptoUs Landcare Group. Photo credit: Kerstie Lee

Our Actions:

After listening to the presentations of the Twinning program and listening to Lori’s advice, Kerstie decided that the best option was to work individually with landholders to deliver specific revegetation outputs. This was found to be a rewarding path as Kerstie gained knowledge of each site visited, and spent individual time with landholders developing mutual respect and trust for a continued working relationship.

Simultaneously to developing individual revegetation plans, Kerstie worked in collaboration with GBCMA, VRFish, and Australian Trout Foundation as part of the Angler Riparian Partnership Program funded by State Government through funding from Regional Riparian Action Plan.  After discussions with stakeholders, it was decided to organise a fly fishing weekend where people could come to the site, have a fish or learn to fish as well as conduct planting on a section of the river. The rationale was that we were providing anglers with the opportunity to see the effort required in managing river health outcomes while giving them a chance to contribute.

This event took place in a community venue in Jamieson in a very special part of the world called “The Island” which is a confluence of the Goulburn and the Jamieson Rivers. The Twinning program influenced this project as it provided Kerstie with a better understanding of the value people give to ‘place’. When working with the community to develop this project, Kerstie would start her conversations with “What is it that you value most about this area?” “What would you like to keep, what species would you like to enhance the space?” “How can we best work with you?” This language was taken from information given at the Twinning workshops and enabled a trusting relationship to be developed quickly.

Drone shot of Rivers of Carbon restoration site ‘Australind’ that Kerstie visited with Lori as part of her mentoring experience. Photo credit: Richard Snashall

Key Learnings:

  • The value of building relationships with individual landholders when developing broader river restoration programs.
  • Appreciating people’s connection with ‘place’ and using this to leverage river health outcomes.

What did you personally gain from the Waterway Management Twinning Program?

“I now appreciate the importance of going back to ‘why’ when thinking about engaging landholders on river health issues. I have also learnt the value of being genuine in your interactions while maintaining a meaningful, evidenced based approach.

The Twinning Program helps you to better understand yourself, why you do what you do and how to relate that information to landholders so that the resulting action is relevant and effective. If I could use the words from someone else it would be Ghandi’s ‘Action expresses priorities’.”

– Kerstie

“The Twinning program provides great connections with great people, it is very professional and offers lasting impacts in achieving outcomes and fostering relationships. I’ve learned that while mentoring needs to be prioritised and takes commitment the learning and benefits are really two way and offer lots of different experiences and perspectives.”

– Lori