Piddington Seminar flyer
Dr Jacqueline Williams
Jacky's areas of interest include 25 years of community based Natural Resource Management NRM (both theory and practice) involving action oriented research and engaged scholarship with regional rural communities in Australia. This has included a focus on sustainability (agriculture, natural resources and teaching), NRM governance and citizen-science (including community programs such as waterwatch, biodiversity enhancement, community rainforest nurseries, farm forestry, organic growing, seed collection, community based fauna surveys, alternative in agriculture etc).
Regional NRM systems in Australia: are they effective, efficient and enduring?
The sustainable management of Australia’s natural resource base is of national significance as reflected in the public level of investment in natural resource management (NRM) over the last 30 years through the National Soil Conservation Program; National Landcare Program; Natural Heritage Trust; National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, Caring for our Country and the current National Landcare Program. Despite these public programs and considerable private NRM investment, Australia’s natural systems continue to decline. The concern about NRM in Australia presents itself in various forms and has driven natural resource governance over time in a number of directions. These range from agricultural aspects of soil conservation; conservation and environment movements; resource degradation, and ecological thought and action. Since the late 1980’s successive Australian and State Governments have invested in NRM with a focus on high public participation through Landcare, catchment based and regional approaches. In particular a new regime of governance was announced in 2002, where 56 regional NRM bodies were established across Australia creating a fourth tier of natural resource governance in Australia, with the state and territory governments and the nature of Commonwealth funding streams largely determining the form and function of these regional NRM bodies within each of their jurisdictions.
This paper examines whether these regional NRM bodies are effective, efficient and enduring and if not, why not. The analysis was undertaken through the development of a model of critical success attributes of a regional NRM system identified from theory and practice. The results presented are a synthesis of data collected from 2004 to 2014 including two national surveys of Australia’s Regional NRM bodies Chief Executive Officers and Chair, comparative case studies and focus groups. The study finds many of the essential success attributes are missing in the current Australian regional NRM experiment and provides conclusions as to the effectiveness, efficiency and enduring nature of the current regional NRM systems in Australia.