Not learning from the past: Adaptive governance challenges for Australian natural resource management

Vella, Karen, Sipe, Neil, Dale, Allan, & Taylor, Bruce (2015) Not learning from the past: Adaptive governance challenges for Australian natural resource management. Geographical Research, 53(4), pp. 379-392.

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Australia’s governance arrangements for NRM have evolved considerably over the last thirty years. The impact of changes in governance on NRM planning and delivery requires assessment. We undertake a multi-method program evaluation using adaptive governance principles as an analytical frame and apply this to Queensland to assess the impacts of governance change on NRM planning and governance outcomes. Data to inform our analysis includes: 1) a systematic review of sixteen audits/evaluations of Australian NRM over a fifteen-year period; 2) a review of Queensland’s first generation NRM Plans; and 3) outputs from a Queensland workshop on NRM planning.

NRM has progressed from a bottom-up grassroots movement into a collaborative regional NRM model that has been centralised by the Australian Government. We found that while some adaptive governance challenges have been addressed, others remained unresolved. Results show that collaboration and elements of multi-level governance under the regional model were positive moves, but also that NRM arrangements contained structural deficiencies across multiple governance levels in relation to public involvement in decision-making and knowledge production for problem responsiveness. These problems for adaptive governance have been exacerbated since 2008. We conclude that the adaptive governance framework for NRM needs urgent attention so that important environmental management problems can be addressed.

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ID Code: 84279
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Natural Resource Management, Adaptive Governance, Planning, Evaluation, Australia
DOI: 10.1111/1745-5871.12115
ISSN: 1745-5863
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Regional Analysis and Development (120505)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
Copyright Statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: VELLA, K., SIPE, N., DALE, A. and TAYLOR, B. (2015), Not Learning from the Past: Adaptive Governance Challenges for Australian Natural Resource Management. Geographical Research, 53: 379–392, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Deposited On: 19 May 2015 03:36
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2016 06:36

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