Lauren Dunstan

Lauren Dunstan

Laura manages the waterways, wetlands and coasts program at NQ Dry Tropics – the natural resource management body for the Burdekin catchment. Laura’s background is in marine biology and social science and is passionate about fostering sustainable behaviour changes in the community for improved water quality and biodiversity outcomes.

Finding the sweet spot – using a targeted social marketing approach for sugarcane farmers to achieve practice change and wetland health.

The Great Barrier Reef is under increasing pressure from the cumulative effect of climate change, poor water quality from land based runoff and direct impacts from coastal development. In the Lower Burdekin, wetland systems are often the interface between sugarcane farms and the Reef and have an important role in improving water quality and helping to mitigate the threat to the Reef from poor water quality. Addressing farming practices to improve water quality and to improve the ecological function of the wetlands has been the focus of a number of projects. To date, projects using traditional methods to change farmer behaviour have often failed to achieve long-term practice change. With funding from the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program, we trialled a new approach, using an adapted Community-Based Social Marketing methodology to understand the barriers to change for 14 sugarcane farmers at two wetland sites. Using the information gained, we designed a tailored approach for extension, engagement and communication. The legacy of the project is a practice change engagement model for wetland health including barriers to practice change and the tools used to increase the benefits, decrease the barriers, and the effectiveness of the tools.

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