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About the workshop

This was a workshop for environmental NGO’s and DEWNR staff to have a series of conversations about the changing nature of biodiversity and conservation work in South Australia. The workshop built off of previous discussions in August and November 2015. We spent the majority of the workshop on two topics:

  1. Philosophies of our work: we discussed how shifts like climate change mean our old philosophies of restoring to a pre-European state are unlikely to be viable.
  2. How we organise to do our work: we discussed past success in order to understand what factors we need to consider for future work.

What emerged from the discussions?

Vicki-Jo Russell AM summarised her insights from the day in a simple acronym. She said as a conservation sector we need to “GET FIT”:

G: Goals: get clarity
E: Evolve definitions
T: Test and learn
F: Facilitate not manage outcomes
I: Invest in people
T: Time to be brave

We’ll be writing up reflections from the workshop in more detail, but for the short term we’ve captured key themes from the discussions in two whiteboards show below.

These will make the most sense to participants who were present during the conversations. If you weren’t present and want to understand more about the conversation, you might ask someone who was to walk you through the notes. (click for full-size):

Exploring the different philosophies of conservation:


Some successes we’ve had and what made them work:


What’s next?

Alongside top-down whole-of-system conversations like those in this workshop, we’re beginning bottom-up organisational-level Theory of Change workshops. These will help us begin to map out the different ways we create change across the sector, what we’re learning, and how we’re shifting.

We’ll bring the top-down and bottom-up conversations together in a bigger meeting tentatively planned to run over a couple of days in September (biodiversity month).

Please help out

  1. Philosophy chat: Help these conversations percolate through the sector by hosting a chat about philosophies of nature conservation with your colleagues over lunch: Download guide
  2. Theory of change: We’re looking for a few organisations to be part of the first round of the Theory of Change workshops. For more information, please contact Ryan Hubbard at
  3. The next layer: Tell us the most important people we should be talking to, inside and outside of the conservation sector, especially those that have an outsized impact (positive or negative) on biodiversity in South Australia. Please contact Jill Woodlands with your ideas:

Extra materials

The Nature of SA project helped bring Richard Hobbes over to talk about philosophies of nature conservation in December 2015. Watch his talk again or share it with those who missed it:


Questions about the workshop or the Nature of SA project?

Please contact Anna Dutkiewicz of DEWNR at or 08 8303 9675 for more information.