Tuesday 6
Resilience assessment in practice : a dialogue to share insights from case studies and evaluate assessment approaches
A. Quinlan, P. Ryan
› 15:45 - 16:40 (55min)
› Antigone 1
Theory to practice: applying a resilience approach to managing natural resources in the Goulburn Broken Catchment, Victoria, Australia.
Chris Norman  1@  , Helen Murdoch  1, *@  , Rod Mclennan  1, *@  , Katie Warner  1, *@  , Paul Ryan  2, *@  
1 : Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority  (GB CMA)  -  Website
168 Welsford St., Shepparton, Victoria -  Australie
2 : interfaceNRM  -  Website
PO Box 271, Beechworth, Victoria -  Australie
* : Corresponding author

Abstract Title: Theory to practice: applying a resilience approach to managing natural resources in the Goulburn Broken Catchment, Victoria, Australia.

The protection and conservation of natural resources is fundamental to the long-term viability of the Goulburn Broken Catchment and the well-being and prosperity of its people.

The current Goulburn Broken Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS), completed in late 2012, provides an integrated planning framework or 'blueprint' for the management of land, water and biodiversity resources. It is the overarching strategy describing the relationship between people and nature, for directing action, and for implementing priorities of government and the community.

The approach to catchment management in the Goulburn Broken region has evolved from a focus on the single threat of salinity in the 1980s, to integrated catchment management (addressing salinity, water quality and biodiversity) in the mid-1990s, to a focus on valuing ecosystem services (such as maintaining clean water, air and productive soils) in the early 2000s. The current RCS is applying a resilience framework to maintain and improve the resilience of social-ecological systems (SESs), identified in the Catchment, to continue to deliver critical ecosystem services in an ever-changing world. This has been a truly adaptive approach underpinned by strong collaboration with researchers and continual learning from practice and experience.

But why use a resilience framework now? Major events in recent years, from bushfires, droughts and floods to the global financial crisis, have severely tested the Catchment's communities and ecosystems. A resilience assessment has identified the major drivers of change for the Catchment and their impacts at SESs of different scales. A key to using the resilience framework in the Goulburn Broken Catchment has been the identification of SESs that acknowledge the role of social and economic dynamics in achieving natural resource management outcomes. Whilst SESs exist at a range of connected scales, from individual properties to the whole-of-Catchment, the scale considered most effective for decision-making following community conversations has been the sub-Catchment. This balances being small enough to understand the details and differences sufficiently, while being large enough to allocate resources efficiently. Integrated SES plans will be developed that identify key thresholds and prioritize actions and decisions at the local community (sub-Catchment SES) scale.

There are challenges in putting a resilience framework into practice. Resilience assessments are resource-intensive and, by their very nature continuous, as we consider changes in dynamic systems and apply adaptive management. Particular challenges that will be discussed include;

  • clearly defining and describing the identity of SESs and their dynamics over time
  • genuinely engaging communities to work together in a meaningful way using tailored approaches, based on the identity of SESs
  • determining key thresholds that have the greatest impact on the resilience of SESs, including reconciling social, economic and environmental tipping points
  • building the general resilience of SESs to deal with shocks (when there is uncertainty and still many unknown thresholds)
  • influencing government investors to fund a ‘local' integrated SES approach, rather than identifiable single assets.

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