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A call for collaboration: Linking local and non-local rangeland communities to build resilience
journal contributionposted on 28.06.2021, 03:04 by David PhelpsDavid Phelps, Dana Kelly
The people who live in Australia’s rangelands are vital for maintaining natural systems, agricultural production, infrastructure for tourism and many services and products which benefit the nation. However, the number of people living within many rangeland regions is declining, services are being withdrawn and resilience undermined. Social capital is an important concept within the resilience literature. Bonding social capital is based strong ties within relatively homogenous local groups, bridging social capital is based on ties between more diverse local groups and linking social capital is based on ties between local and external groups. Within the rangelands, there are often strong bonding and bridging social capitals based on internal social and formal connections, but gaps in linking social capital due to weak or imbalanced connections with external groups and organisations. There is evidence that all three social capitals are needed for regional resilience, and the gap in linking is thus a key issue. People who live outside the rangelands can help rebuild this resilience by linking their skills, knowledge and expertise with local groups and communities. Many city-based scientists, policy makers, influencers and other professionals work in and have empathy for the rangelands. By connecting meaningfully with local groups such as Landcare, service clubs, philanthropic groups or Indigenous Rangers, they would find many benefits to their own endeavours through improved policies, knowledge and service delivery. Central-western Queensland is provided as an example where many such mutual benefits and networks already exist, offering pathways for linking local residents with external experts. Current platforms offer opportunities for a greater range of external academic institutions and organisations to engage with locals, with everyone standing to gain.