A Catchment Community Group is a gathering of people, working together, who identify with a geographical area, usually based on a river or lake catchment or who connect socially within a farming district.
Catchment Community Groups form to achieve a long-term vision, based on a thriving community and a healthy environment (from water quality to biodiversity goals).
To be effective, you need to spend a good amount of time agreeing what’s bringing you together in the first place. The reasons why you might get together are different for every group, but some of the reoccurring themes are:
- Create and own your future.
- Get a greater return on your individual actions and connect them to meet catchment priorities.
- Establish an authoritative voice with decision makers and shape rules – working together to influence regional plans.
- Engage with, connect and empower your wider community.
- Create and demonstrate a catchment story and highlight the great progress that farmers are making to improve the environment.
- Kaitiakitanga – for your children’s children.
- Improve profitability – creating a demonstrable local story that leads to a value-added product (e.g. Taupo Beef).
There are five key steps to setting up and running a farmer driven catchment community group.
- Step 1: Understand the why – What are the reasons why community members want to form a Catchment Community Group?
- Step 2: What is already great- what assets do you already have? What information do we already know about our catchment - this could include reports from regional councils; water monitoring information; your community assets, actions that have already been taken, people skills, schools and halls, tourism or simply a photo of some of the great stuff going on in your catchment.
- Step 3: Define a shared vision. Identify what your vision is for your catchment, how do you want things to look in 5, 10, 20 years’ time? Make sure you can generate as widespread buy-in to that as possible.
- Step 4: Decide what actions you want to take – make an action plan. What steps are needed to fill the gaps in your knowledge or the gaps between what you have in your catchment now and what your shared vision is? Delegate and share tasks, set time frames. Use SMART goals (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-bound). Make an achievable plan.
- Step 5: How are you going to tell your story. Understanding how you are going to measure your progress and asking yourselves are we on track? What is going well? What do we need to work on? This is just as important as forming a group itself. Measurement can be as simple as recording your actions through photos.
Catchment Community groups take many forms from informal structures (with members sharing the coordination role and teams established for small tasks) to more formal structures (with assigned roles, such as treasurer, secretary, chairperson and a committee, and often a membership subscription).
Establishing a formal group either as an incorporated society or a charitable trust can support this and makes it easier to apply for funding and collect member subscriptions.
View an example of the rules of a group who has formed an incorporated society.
Research tells us a coordinator makes a huge difference to the success of a group – think early about how you could fund someone to help you and what you need from them.
View an example of a service agreement and job description for a catchment coordinator.
We are working to develop more resources to help you make the most of working in a catchment community group for the future of your catchment and community.
There are some great examples of what catchment community groups have done around the country in different stages of their development and in taking action.
View an example of how a catchment community group is supporting the uptake of good management practice.
Hear about the value catchment community groups can add to our environment and our businesses, whatever the industry, as well as the benefits to farmers and non-farmers in a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Scene + Herd podcast/webinar.
Click here for all resources relevant to Catchment Community Groups.
If you are interested in forming a Catchment Community Group, you can click through this e Learning Module which highlights the first steps.
The first step is to have a chat with people in your community to find out if this is something people want to do. If the answer is yes, we have developed a workshop to support groups to develop a comprehensive Catchment Action Plan.
If you are interested in having one of these workshops run for your group or if you want to talk more about the Catchment Community Group Programme or get some advice on getting started, then please contact your Extension Manager.
The map below allows you to connect with other catchment community groups.
See where they are, add your own & connect.