Catch a Lenovo in the desert

Discussions and questions post the Zoom conference, DUC Meeting

he Desert Uplands Committee (DUC) grew out of a landcare group in the mid 1990’s, and has worked extensively over the last twenty years with regional land managers on targeted planning, programs, projects, training, research and activities that elevated this community’s sustainability and resilience. Located in central western Queensland, its 75,000 square kilometres encompasses seven small townships, Aramac being one, and over 400 grazing properties.

This community has learnt to exist disparately, however their resilience has been recently severely stretched through a confluence of extreme droughts, flooding rains and extensive wild fires. The DUC is an implementation group working mainly on the ground to facilitate natural resource, social and economic management within the bioregion. Their projects are varied from weed control, soil erosion prevention workshops, Empowering Women forums, photography, and writing workshops.

The Committee meets four times a year, addressing current issues and keeping the community connected and updated. Ageing technology and equipment was hindering their efficacy, leading to a loss of data, poor analysis and much time wasted. To keep track of activities (in the field and the office), especially when working with time-poor landholders and other community volunteers, they are dependent on technological equipment that enables fast and easy input of data, instantaneous feedback of imagery and data in the field, and access to current programs and software.

An ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant provided DUC with three Lenovo laptops valued at $4,047, which the Committee configured to their requirements. The new equipment has enabled members to actively participate in the governance, activities and projects of the Committee through using these computers from their homesteads, rather than have to come into the office and receive comms (mostly in hard copy) and send relevant electronic and digital comms whilst there.

Specifically, identification and eradication of weed infestations is a major part of the Desert Uplands Committee's landcare work. DUC works with land managers to generate photo points at GPS identified sites to record the improvement in groundcover and land condition, and these can now be downloaded to the laptop onsite. These computers have enhanced the capacities of the landholders in managing their properties and resources, with multi-property data being easily collected, collated, analysed and then fed back to the land managers.

And while it was a steep learning curve for some of the older Committee members, the IT upgrade has modernised the operations of the Committee, enabling them to have near-paperless meetings, and activating processes in near-real time. Committee-wide interactive webinars are now possible with the Outback Hub mobile Zoom technology (successfully trialled at a meeting) which significantly decreases the need to travel long distances.

Now enough Committee members are upskilled, they are seeing the value in a good website, the potential of digital formats such as videos, and are even getting interested in social media for the Committee!

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