Planning for Healthy Country

A key part of our work is to collaborate with local communities to help conserve the environment, and give great benefits to people at the same time.

One of our most successful examples of this type of work, is the Healthy Country Planning methodology.

Conservation Action Planning and Healthy Country Plans

Conservation Action Planning is our approach to planning, implementing and measuring success for conservation projects. Developed by our conservation scientists almost 20 years ago, it has been tested and used successfully by hundreds of teams working to conserve species, locations, ecosystems, landscapes, watersheds and seascapes all around the world.

When we started working in Australia over 10 years ago, we began supporting Indigenous Australian groups to help them to plan for their Country and in some cases, to apply for their land to become an Indigenous Protected Area. The Conservation Action Planning approach was expanded to include Indigenous social and cultural values – and Healthy Country Planning was born!

How does it work?

Two week-long workshops are run per year. Interested groups gather from right across Northern Australia to learn about how they can create a healthy country plan to look after the land.

The workshops are a practical session, helping participants to define their vision, goals, threats and assets. The tools the groups learn are then taken back to their communities, to help to guide the process of writing a Healthy Country Plan.

A follow up workshop is held a few months later. The same groups gather again to go into even more detail around forming strategies, actions and results. After they’ve completed the workshops, the groups receive ongoing support to guide them through the process of actually putting the plan together.

Healthy Country Planning Workshop facilitator for The Nature Conservancy, Fergus McDonald, says one of the things he particularly likes about the workshops is the sharing of ideas: “The people who come to these workshops are managing some of the most significant conservation sites in the world.”

To date, we have trained 26 Indigenous groups in the Healthy Country Planning methodology across the north. Plus, we have trained 38 Healthy Country Planning coaches, who are giving mentoring support to training attendees and, more broadly, to Indigenous communities.

We’re really proud that Healthy Country Planning has been embraced by Indigenous groups and conservationists, as well as the federal government. It has become a really important tool to help conservation across Northern Australia, and is becoming more and more popular across the country. In fact six plans are currently being written and a total of ten plans have already been completed!