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Regional community-based Planning: the challenge of participatory environmental governance

  • Year: 2004
  • Author: Whelan J (Griffith University, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Griffith University, Brisbane); Oliver P (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Brisbane)
  • Publisher: Cooperative Research Centre for Coastal Zone, Estuary and Waterway Management
  • Published Location: Brisbane Qld
  • Country: Australia

A new approach to environmental governance is sweeping Australia. Two national funding schemes require collaborative bodies to administer funds for regional on-ground projects to manage rivers, coastlines, biodiversity and vegetation. The devolution of power and resources to these bodies is contingent on participatory, representative and transparent processes. This decentralisation of responsibility reflects stakeholder expectations and a focus on empowerment and social capital. Supporters of the new regional arrangements anticipate that heightened inclusion of community members in decision-making will contribute to a holistic and collaborative approach, in stark contrast to adversarial, 'decide and announce' approaches. Their case is strengthened by the consensus that traditional top-down governance has demonstrably failed. This paper focuses on a collaborative regional natural resource management (NRM) group in South East Queensland, Australia's fastest growing region. The membership of the Regional Body includes local government delegates, representatives of urban and rural industry, community and conservation organisations. A three-year study will track the development of the Regional Body, focusing particularly on the way it enables on-ground NRM and environmental groups to develop and implement a regional environmental management plan to address major natural resource management issues and pressures.

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