State of the Environment (SoE) reporting is an important component in achieving the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. In September Australia's first independent national State of the Environment Report was released (Australia: State of the Environment 1996). The report was prepared by over 200 of Australia's key scientific and other environment experts. The framework for the 1996 SoE Report and the process of its development have provided many insights into the best practices for future SoE reporting. State of the environment reporting provides a powerful information tool for decision makers about our environment. This type of report will greatly enhance and facilitate multidisciplinary communication about environmental issues, for example between lawyers and scientists, or town planners and engineers. The SoE Report focuses attention on the important issues that need addressing and highlights gaps in knowledge. These findings can feed into areas such as management decisions, research priorities, policy formulation and legislation. The SoE Report is also an essential first step in the development of the 'first generation' of national environmental indicators. This will be a complex research and communication exercise requiring input and implementation from a diverse array of stakeholder groups. The environment continues to be an important issue for the community and Australians are becoming increasingly involved in environmental monitoring projects (e.g. Landcare, Waterwatch). The SoE Report provides access to accurate information and increases public understanding which is vital for a successful monitoring process. Australia: State of the Environment 1996 is designed to disseminate information on the current status of Australia's environment to as broad an audience as possible. A detailed communication strategy was developed to achieve this. Both the process of SoE reporting and its communication value will be discussed.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

State of the environment reporting - an important communication tool

Gina Newton  

State of the Environment (SoE) reporting is an important component in achieving the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. In September Australia's first independent national State of the Environment Report was released (Australia: State of the Environment 1996). The report was prepared by over 200 of Australia's key scientific and other environment experts. The framework for the 1996 SoE Report and the process of its development have provided many insights into the best practices for future SoE reporting. State of the environment reporting provides a powerful information tool for decision makers about our environment. This type of report will greatly enhance and facilitate multidisciplinary communication about environmental issues, for example between lawyers and scientists, or town planners and engineers. The SoE Report focuses attention on the important issues that need addressing and highlights gaps in knowledge. These findings can feed into areas such as management decisions, research priorities, policy formulation and legislation. The SoE Report is also an essential first step in the development of the 'first generation' of national environmental indicators. This will be a complex research and communication exercise requiring input and implementation from a diverse array of stakeholder groups. The environment continues to be an important issue for the community and Australians are becoming increasingly involved in environmental monitoring projects (e.g. Landcare, Waterwatch). The SoE Report provides access to accurate information and increases public understanding which is vital for a successful monitoring process. Australia: State of the Environment 1996 is designed to disseminate information on the current status of Australia's environment to as broad an audience as possible. A detailed communication strategy was developed to achieve this. Both the process of SoE reporting and its communication value will be discussed.

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