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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Climate change strategies and plans

10. Adaptive Management Framework

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This section lists elements of an adaptive management framework and an approach to plan for a changing future via an 'adaptive pathways' process and a 'risk management' procedure.

The response to climate change must be adaptive: a learning-by-doing approach that is accompanied by a preparedness to respond to likely, extreme and unforeseen conditions.

There is a heightened sensitivity of preparedness to respond because of:

  • The broad reach of climate change and climate change responses across the whole community and the environment.
  • Uncertainties of how changes to the climate will unfold (trend data are still emerging).
  • The infancy in understanding how to respond, including how to integrate responses into complementary and potentially conflicting programs.

During the development of this Plan, the elements of an adaptive management framework were formally identified and sequenced, including an emphasis on the steps in the decision-making or planning cycle. The framework prompts questions about data needed to inform decisions and the process (who and when) for making decisions.

Without being conscious of it, the NRM organisations in the Goulburn Broken Catchment managed natural resources according to an informal ‘resilience approach’ from the late 1980s until formalisation of the approach in the Goulburn Broken RCS 2013 update. Improving how the concepts of resilience thinking are translated into on-ground changes is challenging as it involves breaking down a highly connected system into the operational units that matter – and that are agreed to by many stakeholders. The adaptive management framework will become an essential tool in helping ‘resilience thinking’ become a practical reality. Although elements of the framework are instantly recognisable and are consistent with good natural resource management practice highlighted in the literature (Lockwood et al. 2008, Rissik et al 2014, M CMA 2013), the challenge is to commit to the discipline of considering each element as part of a cycle.

The development of this Plan facilitated the formal identification and sequencing of elements of the adaptive management framework and catalysed their use in several Goulburn Broken CMA plans for example the Shepparton Irrigation Region, Land and Water Management Plan. The framework will also be a feature of Goulburn Broken CMA’s updated Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy (under way).