Constraints to community groups monitoring plants and animals in rainforest revegetation sites on the Atherton Tablelands of far north Queensland


  • Amanda N. D. Freeman

  • Amanda N. D. Freeman is from the School for Field Studies, Centre for Rainforest Studies (PO Box 141, Yungaburra, Queensland 4884, Australia. Email:


Summary  Many revegetation projects throughout Australia are implemented by community organizations and are often heavily reliant on volunteers. These community organizations are also often recipients of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funds from the federal government and, as part of meeting funding obligations, are expected to monitor their revegetation projects. There is, however, no minimum prescription for the level of monitoring required. Six community organizations undertaking rainforest revegetation projects on the Atherton Tablelands of far north Queensland were surveyed concerning the plant and animal monitoring techniques they employ. Of 10 distinct projects funded through the Bushcare programme of the NHT between 1997 and 2002, only three projects received any systematic monitoring apart from photography to record changes in vegetation cover and condition. Fauna monitoring was only undertaken where a community group was able to obtain assistance from a government agency, researchers, or call on the expertise of local naturalists. Reasons given for these community organizations not undertaking systematic monitoring of plants and animals in their revegetation sites included: lack of personnel, money and expertise; negative perceptions of the value of monitoring; and, lack of interest among the group's membership. As this survey was very small and localized, results may not be applicable to community groups as a whole. However, this survey suggests that although some of the constraints to community group monitoring can be overcome, doubt regarding the efficacy of monitoring and lack of time/interest in monitoring relative to other volunteer activities cannot easily be resolved. Over-reliance on such groups and their volunteers to conduct monitoring places an inappropriate expectation on these community organizations.