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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Regional Catchment Strategy 2013-2019

The resilience approach

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This RCS builds on the significant history of Catchment management described in the introduction.

Resilience is the ability of the Catchment’s people and environment to absorb stress while continuing to function in a desired way.

A series of major events in recent years, from bushfires, droughts and floods to the global financial crisis, has severely tested the Catchment’s communities and ecosystems, catalysing an emphasis on developing resilience in preparing this RCS.

The resilience approach to catchment management focuses on the connections between people and nature, how these connections change, and what can be done to achieve desired, balanced goals for resilience.

Consistent systems of people and nature are called social-ecological systems (SESs), which include elements such as land form, vegetation types, land uses, and social structure and dynamics. Figure 3 illustrates connections between such elements.
SESs exist at a range of connected scales, from site to the whole-of-Catchment. The scale chosen for decision making considers the balance between being small enough to understand the details sufficiently, while being large enough to allocate resources efficiently.

Two scales of SES are detailed in this RCS:  the whole-of-Catchment and six sub-Catchment areas.

The six sub-Catchment SESs are referred to in this RCS as the ‘SESs’. Chapter three includes background details for each SES and priorities for management.

Thresholds of resilience define the tipping point beyond which the characteristics of an SES change so much that the SES is no longer the same. Such changes, which are the result of slow disturbances or unexpected events, can result in changes to ecosystem services that are not desirable. The resilience approach includes identifying thresholds to guide efforts within each SES. Appendix one details resilience thinking further.

Drivers of change and strategic objectives

The resilience approach recognises the need for adapting to drivers of change by countering risks and capturing opportunities they present. The four main drivers of change identified in this RCS, through consultation with the community and technical experts, have been prominent for well over a decade, although how they impact has shifted. Their impacts also vary between SESs. Strategic objectives, described in detail in the following sections, guide decisions in adapting to these four highly connected drivers of change, namely:

  • Water policy reform
  • Land-use change
  • Climate variability
  • Increased farm production.

Two additional strategic objectives, also described in detail in the following sections, further guide development of a resilience approach over the next six years:

  • To embed a resilience approach
  • To strengthen partnerships.

The importance of people in SESs is reflected by the heavy involvement of the community and partners in developing this RCS, which will continue as a feature of implementation.

Further details on the resilience approach are in Appendix three.

Figure 3: The social-ecological system model