This year Parklands celebrated 20 years of community land management.
The commmunity management approach is based in the idea that caring for nature springs from engagement with nature. Providing people with opportunities to have ‘hand-on’ experience with the environment has been our focus.
Over the past two decades we have supported a wide variety of outdoor events and volunteer programs encouraging hands-on participation in the management of bush parks and development of recreational infrastructure. For example, trail runs like the Riverina Endurance series provide opportunities for people to appreciate our beautiful bush parks. The High Country Rail Trail community management groups empower local people to engage with nature and local history, make community connections and participate directly in land management.
Twenty years of support for community involvement has been rewarded with over $20 million worth of volunteer time directed at enhancing our regional bush parks. Local people are interested, they are engaged, and they are active!
We have also learnt that connecting people with nature, and with each other when out working in the environment, has positive mental and physical health benefits.
In our 20th year, 1,475 community members participated in Parklands outdoor events from trail runs to nestbox monitoring and night wildlife spotting. We worked with 12 Friends Groups, co-operated with 82 partner organizations, and involved 1,950 volunteers in land management activities.
When we asked our volunteers what this meant to them, 432 had learnt new skills, 599 felt happier and healthier for having been involved, and 71 had made positive changes in their lives as a result.