Summary Since ‘landcare’ in its modern form began in Australia during the early 1980s, considerable resources have been focused on applying tools and processes, such as community empowerment, regionalization, integrated catchment management, and facilitation and coordination. While these are valuable tools to achieve goals, they are not themselves goals. Unfortunately, they have frequently become ends in themselves. This confusion of means and ends has hindered landcare achievements in Australia. Examples of this are provided, and then contrasted with management based on goals that emphasize realistic targets, highlight barriers to goal achievement, and facilitate the development of well-targeted actions. The complexity of most natural resource management issues, the lack of technical solutions and the long timescales over which management must be applied have all contributed to the confusion of means and ends.