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Scientists can sometimes find it difficult to relay their findings to the public, let alone change behaviour on the ground. Peter Fleming tries to reach landholders by reframing issues. He always tries to view situations from the perspective of farmers, and to consider what they can gain from their participation in programs. He also notes sometimes the best way to get a message across is listen to what others have to say first. For example, at an initial meeting in a community, he devotes most of the time to letting landholders express their views and get frustrations off their chest. He finds that this allows for a more productive second meeting. He also employs a nil-tenure approach, which brings people together across public and private land tenures to address invasive species issues. In this approach, building trust across organisations is crucial. Peter doesn’t tell people what they ‘should’ do. Instead, he fosters connections among stakeholders and works collectively to solve issues.
Dr Peter Fleming is Principal Research Scientist at the Vertebrate Pest Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries.