The great experiment with devolved NRM governance: lessons from community engagement in Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s

Article


Curtis, A., Ross, H., Marshall, G. R., Baldwin, C., Cavaye, J., Freeman, C., Carr, A. and Syme, G. J.. 2014. "The great experiment with devolved NRM governance: lessons from community engagement in Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s." Australasian Journal of Environmental Management. 21 (2), pp. 175-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2014.935747
Article Title

The great experiment with devolved NRM governance: lessons from community engagement in Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s

ERA Journal ID5805
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsCurtis, A. (Author), Ross, H. (Author), Marshall, G. R. (Author), Baldwin, C. (Author), Cavaye, J. (Author), Freeman, C. (Author), Carr, A. (Author) and Syme, G. J. (Author)
Journal TitleAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
Journal Citation21 (2), pp. 175-199
Number of Pages25
Year2014
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN1448-6563
2159-5356
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2014.935747
Web Address (URL)http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14486563.2014.935747
Abstract

Since the 1980s, natural resource management (NRM) in Australia and New Zealand has been an ambitious experiment with community engagement. Underpinned by theory about public participation, adult education and agricultural extension, but also influenced by neoliberalism's calls for 'smaller government', governments embraced engagement as a cost-effective approach to effecting change. Critiques of community engagement are often misguided as they are frequently based on inauthentic or poor engagement practices. Moreover, these critiques have often failed to grasp the nature of the problems being addressed, acknowledge the contributions of engagement or understand the importance of building adaptive capacity to respond to an increasingly complex and uncertain future. The foundations for this commissioned article emerged at a workshop where we reflected and deliberated on our experience as NRM researchers and practitioners over the past 20 years. We begin by identifying the key theories underpinning community engagement and community-based NRM (CBNRM). We then reflect on the experience with community engagement in NRM over the past 20 years and identify key lessons for practitioners and policy makers. Drawing on these insights, and the developing theory around new governance and resilience thinking, we identify opportunities for community engagement under a range of possible futures.

KeywordsCatchment management; Community-based NRM; Landcare; Natural resource management; Participation; Participation and Decision-Making;
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440704. Environment policy
440708. Public administration
440805. Environmental politics
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Byline AffiliationsCharles Sturt University
University of Queensland
University of New England
University of the Sunshine Coast
University of Otago, New Zealand
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Edith Cowan University
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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