Landcare Agreed Action Plan feedback

Published on 30 April 2024

In early 2024 feedback was sought in order to help us continuingly improve the Action Plans we develop with Landcare volunteers and the process used to develop these. A survey was sent to 30 Landcare Team leaders, selected because they had recently indicated they were still active, and had received updated Agreed Action Plans within the past 2 years.  Of the 30 sent out, 14 responses were received (46% response rate). Some excellent feedback was provided including:

  • 100% of respondents are somewhat to very familiar with the Agreed Action Plan indicating a high level of awareness, with 79% of participants responding that they “know it well.”
  • 79% refer to their plan often, occasionally or when introducing a new volunteer to the site
  • 71% were very satisfied with the process of developing and drafting the AAP and 14% were somewhat satisfied
  • 71% of respondents find the plan to be extremely useful and 14% find it somewhat useful
  • 79% rated their knowledge before starting with Lake Macquarie Landcare as very or somewhat limited and now 86% rate their knowledge of weed management as good or excellent

There were also some great questions and considerations that came through the open-question responses, indicating detailed critical analysis by more experienced Landcarers. These have been provided below with answers to assist other Team Leaders who may have similar questions.


Why are the treatment zone maps and group actions in my plan listed twice?

Great question! The current format is based on feedback from a focus group of team leaders we consulted with when the current Action Plan process was developed. 

The first 2-3 pages of your Action Plan are a summary of the site priority zones, priority weeds and their treatment methods.  This section is designed to be separated from the main body of your Action Plan and be taken as a ready reference to your site each day.  Greater detail is presented further into the body of the plan, providing more information on how these weeds are treated and what to consider when treating them.  This information should not need to be accessed as frequently. 

Why does the plan include lot numbers for all of the land parcels my site crosses over?

Among other things, your Agreed Action Plan is a record of Council owned or managed land parcels that you have permission to work on.  By recording the Lot and D.P numbers, we have a record of the property inclusions that the site covers, which can be validated against Council’s property database. 

Why did my Action Plan take so long to get approved?

We understand that when a new group is keen to get started, a long delay between first site meetings and finalisation of the Action Plans can result in a loss of momentum for volunteers.  We will always endeavour to progress you to ‘active group’ status as quickly as possible.  However, some potential Landcare sites can be more complex than others and as a result require a broader level of consultation with different departments of Council.  Any Landcare site that is wholly on or within a designated natural reserve, we can usually process very quickly (with some exceptions).  Landcare sites that are on or adjacent to open recreation spaces, playgrounds, sporting facilities, road reserves or Council operational land however will require consultation with other departments.  This can slow the process.

Where there are other factors, such as Aboriginal Cultural Heritage considerations, contaminated land concerns or fire Asset Protection Zones on the site, the planning process will be more complex. 

And sometimes it can simply be a staffing level versus workload issue. Coming out of the COVID shutdowns, we experienced a very high work volume as activity started up at the same time as we needed to recruit new staff.  Whatever the reason, once we are able to get a group started we will also work to help them get up and running.

Some parts of the Action Plan seem unnecessary to me.  Why are they included?

Your Agreed Action plan serves multiple purposes.  It has information to meet all these purposes and needs to be aimed at a variety of audiences.  For this reason, your Agreed Action plan may seem long, contain information you may not see as important to your purpose or if you are an experience Landcare volunteer may seem to be aimed at beginner audiences.  However, the Agreed Action Plan format was developed in direct consultation with experienced, long-serving Landcare volunteers who were heavily involved in the design and information within.   

Purposes of Agreed Action Plan

  • It acts as a guide for the focus and method of works for you and your fellow volunteers.  
  • It is a record for Council of the location of the site, characteristics and priority threats on the site and approved works to be undertaken.
  • Can be provided to other local residents and entities on request who are interested in what Landcare is doing on the site.

Components of your Agreed Action Plan include:

  • Site maps and priority areas of focus
  • Main threats to site and weed management techniques
  • General site information and description
  • Weeds observed on site
  • Native plants observed and expected on site
  • Vegetation communities represented (or expected) on site                                                                                                                     

If you consider the potential audience, you will appreciate that one Action Plan that is geared to all readers makes sense rather than needing to produce a different document for each audience.  Highly positive feedback from our new volunteers demonstrates that we have pitched the content level correctly.  If you are an experienced volunteer, then you already have the knowledge and skills to achieve the expected results without needing a higher-level document.  If you are inducting a new volunteer or want to help your neighbour understand what it is you are hoping to achieve, then the information is presented at the best possible level. 

Why are site boundaries represented on plan maps at different scales? This can make maps a bit confusing.

We understand that the maps presented can be a bit confusing to refer to at times.  Maintaining a consistent scale across all maps can be difficult, especially where the overall site is large, but there is a need to focus down on a smaller area for priority level mapping.  While the system we are required to use can make mapping a tedious process, the aerial imagery we are able to access is updated multiple times per year.  This means the features you can see on maps in your Action Plan are contemporary to when the plan was created and can be highly useful, providing landmarks and reference points to work with.   

Why do I need to have the vegetation community in the plan? Do I need to know every plant that sits on that list?  They are not all on my site. 

When you look at the form and makeup of plants that occur in a natural area, you are seeing a specific type of vegetation community.  Density and height of dominant canopy trees, the various species, and the numbers they occur in and even the ratio of one species compared to another defines exactly what type of vegetation community surrounds you.  The vegetation community is influenced by a variety of factors and it in turn influences the wildlife species that live in or use that area. 

Extensive vegetation mapping has been carried out over many years across the Lake Macquarie region to identify and define the characteristic vegetation communities of our area.  These mapped vegetation communities will be comparable to the different NSW State Vegetation Map classes but are specific to the subtle differences that come with Lake Macquarie’s geology, geography, and biological influences.  When we develop your Agreed Action Plan, we use the native vegetation communities that are expected for your sites as a reference to work towards. 

Understanding what vegetation community is on your Landcare site gives us a target to work towards.  Realistically, if you are undertaking Landcare on a site, that site is not in pristine condition! Understanding the community, and using it as a reference, can help determine future actions on site.  It helps advise questions such as “what particular plant species are missing here?” and “what (if anything) should we be planting”.  For the Landcare staff, the vegetation community is a very important piece of the site puzzle.  For Landcare volunteers, it can be useful, might be of interest, but in the end as long as you know which one is a weed and what to do with it, you are on the money. 

Your site may not have every species on it from the community list.  This could be due to the site being compromised or it could be due to some local variations in species composition.  It can even be due to the site being wrongly mapped, a process that Council continues to work on over time. 

When and how would my plan get updated?

The timeframe is usually indicated in the title or early on in the AAP and is often a range of three years. The date range represents the period over which we hope to be able to review the Agreed Action Plan for your site, however this is a very arbitrary date.  Within this time, your group may make such large progress that we need to review the plan in a shorter period to account for changes to the site.  Conversely, even after the ‘end date’ of the Action Plan, the priority weeds (and therefore their treatments) might not change significantly. 

As one species of weed is managed, this will trigger successional regeneration.  If lucky, that will be regeneration by native species waiting in the soil seed bank or imported by birds and other wildlife species.  However, another weed may emerge or begin to dominate the site, capitalising on the disturbance and shifting your priority focus.  If you look at your site and you feel that the weeds and site condition no longer reflect what is recorded in the Action Plan, please reach out to us and we can begin the process of updating it. 


If you would like further information about Landcare Agreed Action Plans or the survey feedback please contact Jason Harvey, Landcare Coordinator on 4921 0392 or [email protected]


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