Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Up the creek without a... canoe???

Up the creek without a… canoe???

Imagine being shown a beautiful traditional Tasmanian bark canoe and being asked “Can you build us one of those?” No instructions in any language, much less an allen key…

It seems that this is pretty much what a small team of indigenous boat builders were faced with when they got together to build one – but with the ultra-modern help of a CT scanner, the result was the Toillinne Bark Canoe Project, the first full size bark canoe built by Tasmanian Aborigines in 170 years, winning the actKM Award for 2007, and "a HIGHLIGHT!" of the actKM conference for Melanie. Melanie says that, accepting the award at the actKM conference dinner on behalf of the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery (TMAG), Tony Brown and Tony Burgess related how the boat builders rebuilt from scratch a fully functioning bark canoe. Without even anecdotal information in existence, the team had to rely on CT scans of an1840s model bark canoe on show in the Tasmanian Museum. An added complication was that Tasmanian bark canoes were of a completely different design to those on the mainland!

From collecting the bark, to fumigating it, to painstakingly constructing it section by section, to successfully testing it on the Derwent River, this is "a story of indigenous knowledge once lost and now recovered, to be shared and stored for future generations." (Thanks for this story, Melanie! You were obviously ready to sail away into the sunset...) Cheers, Kathy

Story and pictures at

Friday, November 30, 2007

Delivery date set for Knowledge Base Software

One of the most important features of the concept design for the NRM Toolbar is the Knowledge Base application. This software will allow any group working in NRM to create web-based databases of relevant knowledge. This capability is becoming increasingly important as organisations wish to show they are using best available evidence for NRM decision-making.

The schedule for delivery of this software has been finalised and it will be available from the end of Feb 2008.

The team has already received interest in the software from ten regions that are looking to use it to catalogue internal hardcopy material and link to external digital items. Key features of the new software will be:
  • the ability to select search results of interest from the NRM Search Engine and automatically add the metadata from that source into the knowledge base, dramatically reducing the need to add metadata;
  • the ability to select where research has been done and automatically adding decimal degrees from the Place name Gazeteer, allowing generation of Google map interfaces in future releases;
  • a standard metadata schema but also the ability to add your own customised metadata fields, for example your organistation 'themes';
  • a built in workflow for any member to add suggestions of new items but then going through a nominated quality assurance moderator.

If you are interested in what the Knowledge Base software could do for you, please contact Mat Silver from the team for a chat.

Friday, November 16, 2007

That special time

It's coming to that time of the year - the office Christmas Party. The theme for tonight is disco!! Should be good fun :)

It's a shame Melanie and Bruce are not in town - they're still on the road back to Canberra from Colac where they were meeting with the Corangamite CMA. This regional body is up to stage 3 of the 5 stages within the process for developing a knowledge strategy. The Regional Knowledge Resource Kit is available at with lots of great information for regional bodies.

Anyway, hope to see Bruce and Mel in the office Monday - bright-eyed & bushy-tailed (as they say) **where does that phrase come from??


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gotta quesion? service

Just thought I'd post up one of the recent questions we received to our Gotta question? service ( The question was passed on to the Exchange service run by Greening Australia as this is one of the areas they specialise in.

What is the proper density (per sqr metres) required for establishing a new riparian vegetated zone comprising a diversity of trees, shrubs and groundcover?

Other question topics include:
  • roadside vegetation management policy and management guidelines for local governments
  • Envirofund money provided in the Wet Tropics
  • Land & Water Australia's knowledge and adoption program
  • what research has been done on serrated tussock management.
The service is FREE to NRM professionals - so if you have a question about anything NRM-related and can't find answers or papers or other information, do let us know!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

actKM conference

Just back from the actKM conference held in Canberra ( (Conference presentations here: I have never been to anything titled 'knowledge management' before and I must say that the term does kind of hit me as a confusing bit of language (is it my science background?). To me, the techniques people talk about could quite easily be packaged up as ‘good business management’, ‘valuing tacit knowledge’, ‘valuing people and their input’, ‘good communication’ etc. etc. Anyway, I pursued with my concentration and in the end found that my above ideas of packaging what knowledge management (KM) meant – were ok! What KM means to one organisation may be different to another but it’s useful to talk about it all.

Some key highlights for me were:
Hearing some amazing stories of incredible communication break-downs.

* The history of actKM: originally an ACT event but now it attracts international attendees.
* The question ‘isn’t knowledge management everyone’s business?’ ‘Yes, but who owns what – for example IT do the intranet, HR do the training, what is the role of a knowledge manager?
* There is knowledge that needs to be identified and acknowledged at different levels: the personal to the organisational. And there are interesting dynamics between these.

We did a questionnaire to identify if people tend to being a natural broker or not. Quite interesting. I was an 8/10 but the point was made by Laurie Lock Lee that many people who are not naturally the brokering type learn the skills and do a great job of it because it’s part of their work – so those with 4/10 don’t really need to worry :).

Laurie also talked about the importance of networks and ways to encourage energy in networds – all useful things to know. He passed on a reference to Kelley 1998 ‘Star performers: Nine breakthough strategies that you need to succeed’.

And an inspirational story was told by Troy Mallie from the Aboriginal Rainforest Council which represents 18 tribal groups in land and cultural heritage management issuers. He talked about some of the indigenous knowledge capturing work he has done while developing a system that holds images, sound, documents – anything really. And the systems he’s been involved with have been developed by and for aboriginal people to use and segregate their knowledge of particular places by the cultural divisions they need – eg. by gender, age, individual to family group to clan.

And finally David Gurteen gave a talk about the technology he uses in his day-to-day work: blogs, RSS feeds (eg. Feedburner <-- the one we use for this blog), Skype, Flickr, Facebook, his iPod to download podcasts to look at on the train, Google tools & reviews of anything technology by Robin Good (** some really good stuff on here).

Some other bits and pieces to come out of the conference: a wiki site about creativity, innovation, problem solving etc.

Arthur Shelley’s ‘Organizational Zoo’ book: about classifying and working with the various people (animals) that make up the organisation (zoo)

Until next post - bye,


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Charleville dust storm!

Hi, Bruce and Melanie here. We are in Charleville for workshops with the South West NRM regional body. They're at stage 4 in the 5-stage Regional Knowledge Strategy process. In Stage 4 the results of the three lines of enquiry (information mapping, surveys, anecdote circles) are brought together into a 'sensemaking' workshop. Then the region works out what to do about things in an action planning workshop.

The workshops went really well, with some excellent action projects developed for South West NRM to take forward.

We have really enjoyed our visits to Charleville and the great hospitality we have received there. Once again we ate at one of the best Thai restaurants we've found anywhere and took in the night sky at the Cosmos Centre. With thanks to Rachel Greenfield from the Save the Bilby Fund we were given a very special behind the scenes tour of the Bilby Centre.

On our first night in Charleville a wild storm came through. Before the rain there was a dust storm - evidence of the very dry times the region has been facing.

Watching the storm (and looking rather windblown!) from the verandah of the historic Hotel Corones are (left to right) Melanie Randall (LWA), Trish Dames (Avon Catchments Council WA), Bruce Boyes (LWA) and Shawn Callahan (Anecdote Pty Ltd). Trish joined us to observe the Stage 4 process, with Avon just about to commence thr process too. Anecdote are consultants to the project, and have advised us on the Regional Knowledge Strategy process.

A very special close encounter with the endangered Bilby.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The NRM Toolbar has been officially released today!

The NRM Toolbar an Australian first, providing natural resource managers with access to an NRM-specific search engine and databases such as professional bodies, events, e-network, decision support tools, through a downloadable toolbar. The search engine accesses databases and parts of the web that generic search engines can't.

The NRM Toolbar is available from

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Hi everyone!
Welcome to the blog for the Knowledge for Regional Natural Resource Management Program!
This is a program funded through Land & Water Australia, by Natural Heritage Trust.

In the coming months, the team will be blogging about what they're up to, cool resources they've found, and any other bits and pieces you may be interested in.

Thanks for reading and if you want to get in touch, please email us!