‘Innovationing’

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INNOVATIONING encapsulated the spirit of a recent Landcare Networking Day hosted by the NZ Landcare Trust, Waikato Regional Council, the Whakaupoko Landcare and the David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve Trust.

The diverse folk present were asked to write a single action word on paper to describe their primary activity and then form clusters of similar themes. It was an effective approach to speed networking with the next step being to link with someone whose expertise you required for your work/project. ‘Innovationing’ was provided by a farmer leading the way in peat lake restoration.

Though a number of presentations on pest and weed control were by regional council staff on new products and techniques, when open to the floor (more accurately, the forest floor given the actual setting) all manner of advice was shared from the diverse participants. This is where the real value of Landcare networking days lie: harnessing the skills and experience of practitioners who work hands-on across a variety of landscapes.

The irony of the lack of representation by any DOC staff wasn’t lost on participants. Given the Department’s increased emphasis on community input into environmental restoration, a staff member would have been welcomed. Perhaps a lack of staff to attend… or couldn’t afford the petrol….?

Virtual communities are gathering momentum. Although there is http://www.naturespace.org and a Waikato-wide online resource now in the planning stages, there is no substitute for getting together, face to face, mind to mind, heart to heart. Aside from regional events, what scope is there for regular national events? The NZ Landcare Trust’s Conference http://www.landcare.org.nz/News-Features/Features/Conference-Reflections last year was a highlight in the community calendar, but as with any large event, contingent both on big visions, enormous energy and a healthy source of funding.

Given the challenging climate, community groups will need increased moral and practical support to do what they do so well – not only the spade work, but the INNOVATIONING too.

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