Tallangatta and Southern Forests communities partner with scientists to advance their sustainability priorities


Boosting community resilience, connection and input to planning for bushfires and climate change will define the first cohort of Future Earth Australia’s community science for sustainability initiative.

Following the unprecedented fire season of 2019-20, community groups in Tallangatta, Victoria and the Southern Forests Region of Western Australia have been selected to participate in a community science partnership.

Tallangatta Health Service is establishing a large community garden as a space for their community to come together, share and build resilience following their experiences with bushfires while contributing to the thriving local food economy. Located on the site of an aged care facility, the garden will be designed and owned by the Tallangatta community from the beginning. Through the community science initiative, Tallangatta Health Service has partnered with Professor Tim Cavagnaro, a soil specialist from the University of Adelaide with a research interest in urban agriculture. Along with the health and wellbeing objectives, Tallangatta Health Service and Prof Cavagnaro will undertake a site assessment to ensure that the plot is as productive and healthily embedded in the landscape. This will see the garden best prepared to be handed over to the community to own and steward in the coming years.

In the Southern Forests region of Western Australia, the Warren Catchments Council is engaging their community to gather their values, perspectives and knowledge about their area to contribute to local climate adaptation – particularly planning local management of bushfire in a changing climate. Warren Catchments Council has partnered with Dr Kathleen Broderick, a specialist in community-led natural resource management, who is seeking to supervise a research student for this project at either the Australian National University or Murdoch University.

Manjimup countryside. Photo by Jeremy Stewart.

In the earliest months of 2021, we will be working with these partners to define the final project scope, work plan, responsibilities and roles, and timeline. The substantive research work will then commence!

Our community science partnerships and initiative have been supported by the excellent model and guidance of our partners at Thriving Earth Exchange at the American Geophysical Union. Their community science model has seen hundreds of communities and scientist collaborate on local science priorities which improve people’s lives. You can find more information about them here.

We would like to sincerely thank our collaborators in our first cohort for our community science for sustainability initiative:

Denise Parry – CEO, Tallangatta Health Service

Casey Fahey – Project Manager, Tallangatta Health Service

Julie Polmear – Director of Corporate Services, Tallangatta Health Service

Professor Tim Cavagnaro – Deputy Head of School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide

Julian Sharp – Chairman, Warren Catchments Council

Emeritus Professor John Bailey – Warren Catchments Council; Murdoch University

Dr Kathleen Broderick – Broderick and Associates; Australian National University