Nesting community-based NRM for regional accountability and grassroots cooperation

Policy makers in Australia have turned their attention (most significantly in the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, NAP, and the Natural Heritage Trust, NHT) to making regional community-based natural resource management (NRM) organisations more accountable for the commitments they make on behalf of their constituents. However, existing knowledge in Australia of how we might build the requisite community-level capacities is sketchy at best. One strategy for building these capacities involves organising community-based NRM ­ from the 'grassroots' to the regional level ­ in the form of systems nested within one another. In this way, grassroots organisations can become voluntarily part of, and participate actively in decision making by, a larger system. Grassroots participation increases the legitimacy of decisions made at higher levels of community-based organisation, and thus the likelihood of local cooperation with those decisions -­ or at least that's the theory. The problem for Australian policy makers is that nearly all the evidence of benefits from nested NRM is from research undertaken elsewhere. This project aims to obtain relevant Australian evidence through case studies of three NRM regions as defined for NAP and NHT: the South West Catchments Region (Western Australia), the Fitzroy Basin Region (Queensland), and the Mallee Region (Victoria). Lessons distilled from the case studies will assist policy communities at all (including community) levels to identify the potential of 'nesting' in their own contexts and how this potential might best be translated into practice. 

Related publications

Nesting community-based NRM - Project Brochure
Download PDF >

Full final report - Community-based regional delivery of natural resource management: Building system-wide capacities to motivate voluntary farmer adoption of conservation practices
Download PDF >

Farmers and Regional NRM Delivery - Survey results from three regions Vol. 1: Report
Download PDF >

Farmers and Regional NRM Delivery - Survey results from three regions Vol. 2: Appendices
Download PDF >

Keynote address to the 2008 Western Australian Natural Resource Management Conference, Bridgetown, 1st April 2008
Download Powerpoint >

Invited presentation to the National Symposium on Understanding Practice Change by Farmers, University of Melbourne, 14th November 2008
Download Powerpoint >

Marshall, G.R., 2008. 'Nesting, subsidiarity and community-based environmental governance beyond the local level', International Journal of the Commons, 2(1), 75-97.
More Details >

Marshall, G. R. 2009. Can community-based NRM work at the scale of large regions? Exploring the roles of nesting and subsidiarity. Contested Country: Local and Regional Natural Resources Management in Australia. M. Lane, C. Robinson and B. Taylor. Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing: 43-57.
More Details >

Marshall, G.R. 2009. 'Polycentricity, reciprocity, and farmer adoption of conservation practices under community-based governance.' Ecological Economics, 68(5), 1507-20.
More Details >

Marshall, G. R. and D. M. Stafford Smith. 2010. 'Natural resources governance for the drylands of the Murray-Darling Basin.' The Rangeland Journal 32(3): 267-282.
More Details >

Marshall, G. R. (2011). What 'community' means for farmer adoption of conservation practices. Changing Land Management: Adoption of New Practices by Rural Landholders. D. J. Pannell and F. M. Vanclay. Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing: 107-127.
More Details >

Related book: Economics for Collaborative Environmental Management: Renegotiating the Commons
More details >

Completed in 2005

Funded by: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Contact: Graham Marshall