A Rangelands R&D Program project in the Central Highlands of Queensland

Case Study B

This project was based around an action learning approach to test how improved access to NRM information, combined with improved institutional structures and facilitated negotiation processes, could enable a regional community to improve natural resource use and more-effectively interact with government policy and program development. The project outputs were of necessity long-term, so ensuring legacy was a crucial part of the work from its planning phase.

The project team collated a wide range of existing NRM data and, together with regional organisations, developed the Central Highlands Resource Information System (CHRIS). Not only was CHRIS made widely available throughout the region to all groups or individuals who wished to access its data, it also included technical support and interpretation as well as a system of auditing of regional resource use. This was a key resource left in the region at the conclusion of the project.

The project team also established, following wide regional consultation, a series of Regional Sector Groups whose function was to enable discussion within particular groups of stakeholders (for example local government, agriculture, mining, conservation, human services) of issues important to that sector in use of natural resources (for example water) and the development of action plans to deal with perceived sustainability issues. Sectoral views were then raised and negotiated across sectors in a Regional Coordination Committee to develop consensus and integrated NRM plans for which the region could then seek external support for their implementation. These institutional structures, combined with discussion and negotiation processes were also a crucial part of the project legacy left within the region. The many local people involved in the project who both contributed and gained new knowledge and skills (including regional and group facilitators) were another vital component of the legacy.

The third function of the project was the recording and evaluation of the processes used in it, identification of the critical success and failure points, and advice on options to further improve regional resource use planning. This knowledge was disseminated through papers and presentations during the course of the work and as part of the project legacy at completion.

By Phil Price, former Program Manager

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