Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 78 Feature Article goals to be achieved at a landscape scale over the long term, there needs to be better links with statutory land use planning. One area where there has been signi cant effort made to address this issue is in regards to the protection of drinking water supply catchments from inappropriate development (Ford and Lewis, 2010; Hurlimann and Ford, 2010). Many jurisdictions (e.g. Western Australia and Victoria) now have speci c policy positions on acceptable levels of development in drinking water supply catchments. The challenge now is ensuring that these policies are implemented across all levels of State and Local Government, with objections and appeals sought for non-complying activities. 2. Living in a variable climate and managing natural disasters Over the last decade there has been widespread recognition that climate variability is inherent within the Australian climate, and that this variability is increasing with climate change. There has also been increasing awareness that managing water and catchments based on long-term averages is inadequate, both because the 'average' is changing, and because high levels of variability is the norm rather than the exception. This highlights the need to adaptively manage catchments for a variety of possible climate scenarios and extreme events. Recent experiences with a variety of extreme events and natural disasters ( oods, res, droughts) across multiple areas of the country have highlighted these issues. This poses new challenges for understanding the role of catchment management under a changing climatic future. It raises the need to proactively manage catchments with these situations in mind, which includes building social- ecological resilience and the ability to adapt in the face of variability and change. This may involve integrated and adaptive water management systems that match " t-for-purpose" water resources with the varying demands of the community and environment. The need to protect and enhance landscape environmental assets will also increase as additional stressors come into effect. 3. Use of new concepts re ecting dynamics and change Related to the previous trend of variability and extremes is the increasing use of new concepts that are more re ective of the challenges and goals of catchment management in situations of change. In particular, concepts of resilience, vulnerability and adaptation are increasingly being adopted. 'Resilience', and in particular 'social-ecological resilience' (Berkes et al., 2003) is increasingly recognised as useful for thinking about how linked biophysical and human components of catchments respond to disturbance and change. 'Vulnerability' is a related concept that focuses on the extent to which future change will impact human and natural systems in a particular place, and has been particularly applied to understand impacts of climate change on communities. Both concepts are starting to be applied in different situations in different ways (e.g. LGA SA, 2012; Central West CMA, 2011; NRC, 2010; Walker et al., 2009), however despite widespread discussion, these concepts are not yet necessarily widely embedded in implementation plans and practices across the country. The signi cance of these new concepts is that they have the potential to shift thinking about the purpose and goals of catchment management from static and reactive, to dynamic and proactive in the face of uncertainty, complexity and change. 4. Evaluating management outcomes and effectiveness An increased focus on target setting and evaluating management outcomes has been a strong theme across a range of policy areas relating to catchments, water and NRM (e.g. Australian Government, 2011). This re ects an increasing focus in decision-making on management effectiveness and cost-effective ('bang for buck') investment, within a broader contemporary public policy focus on 'evidence-based policy' (Head, 2008). There has also been growing attention on prioritising and targeting investment in catchments based on multiple catchment- level outcomes, such as biodiversity, water and land condition, and human wellbeing (Landscape Logic, 2012; Williams, 2012). Also, in decision-making contexts that are increasingly contested (e.g. between different land uses, human activities and uses of water), there is a heightened need for transparent assessments of management outcomes and effectiveness for defensible water and catchment management decisions. Nevertheless, while a more robust understanding of management outcomes and effectiveness is useful for prioritisation and transparency, there is also a risk of oversimplifying complex and uncertain situations that do not always respond predictably or over short timeframes. 5. Economic assessment and comparison of options Closely linked to the trend of evaluating management outcomes and effectiveness is an increasing focus on comparative economic assessment of management options. Assessments based on cost- effectiveness and 'least-cost' decision- making on a whole-of-catchment basis are becoming more commonly pursued (e.g. US EPA, 2012; BCC and MJ, 2011; Bryan and Kandulu, 2009; McInnes et al., 2010). If done from a genuinely 'whole-of-society' perspective (e.g. Mitchell et al., 2007), this has the potential to identify scenarios that are most bene cial across a wide range of public and private stakeholder interests. This could lead to new opportunities for sharing costs and bene ts and addressing the seemingly intractable problem of 'who pays' for catchment bene ts, which are often dispersed, long-term and shared in nature. However, given the intangible nature of many catchment management outcomes, care must be taken to use appropriate assessment frameworks that properly evaluate the broad range of bene ts and costs to the community and environment, rather than purely focusing on short-term nancial outcomes. 6. Expanding focus from 'management' to 'governance' The nal trend is increasing attention to issues of governance related to catchments and natural resources (e.g. Ryan et al., 2010). Governance as related to catchments encompasses the roles, responsibilities and relationships of different stakeholders in a catchment, and issues of accountability and power. In this context, governance is a vital aspect of managing water more holistically, equitably, ef ciently and sustainably. Indeed, the need to address catchment governance increases with increasing number, intensity and competition between different activities and interests, as the degree of interdependence and potential tensions between stakeholders increases (Hirsch et al., 2006). From a public policy perspective, 'good governance' is also a requirement for the investment of public funds in catchment initiatives that seek to protect and improve both the quality and security of water resources, and/or waterway and catchment health more generally. The need for increased attention on governance becomes increasingly evident in responding to challenges of uncertainty, dynamics and change (Trends 2 and 3), because doing so requires the ability to re ect, learn and adapt, not just at an operational management level, but also at broader levels of catchment governance.
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