Desert Steps Ahead was a project designed to deliver best practice natural resource information to landholders, enabling them to take a step ahead to the next level of sustainability and viability. A number of elements contributed to its development – including the initial identification from DUC’s “Monitoring and Evaluation and Community Survey” results conducted in 2002, its results showing a significant proportion of Desert Uplands landholders have completed some form of property management planning (11%), and feedback suggesting the need for follow-up work was essential.
The components of this project were designed to deliver a number of outcomes. These included the identification of current information available to support sustainable production and natural resource management, and the raising of awareness of current Natural Resource Management strategies and funding arrangements.
In essence the Desert Steps Ahead Project was a mechanism used to sift through a range of issues and information to a core which would be recognised as best natural resource management practice in the Desert Uplands Bioregion. Once the issues and information had been sorted the challenge was to get this information to landholders at times and in ways that made it possible for landholders to access the information, should they decide that any part could improve the performance of their enterprise.
A two pronged approach was taken to reach landholders through Landcare meetings and/ or on-property visits where presentations initiated the discussion at the meeting hall or the kitchen table. A focus was communication and building of a rapport with landholders so that the project officer would become a trusted point of contact. The discussion always included an overview of regional natural resource management arrangements, explaining the role of Burdekin Dry Tropics and the Desert Uplands Committee and the potential for funding through these boards if the activities meet targets set out in the Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional Investment Strategy.