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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Regional Catchment Strategy 2013-2019

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The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is the lead organisation for natural resource management in the Catchment. It holds this responsibility along with the 215,000 people living in the Catchment that all have an important stewardship responsibility for the health of our natural environment. One of the key responsibilities of the Goulburn Broken CMA is to develop a Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS), as directed by the Victorian Government. The RCS is a document that describes the importance of the Catchment in terms of its key assets such as its unique biodiversity, land, water and people. Most importantly, it also sets the priorities and targets for directing the Catchment’s resources over the next 6 years towards achieving environmental, social and economic benefits. 

Since the last RCS was developed in 2003, the Catchment and its community have been impacted by a number of natural disasters that have, and will continue to, shape the Catchment. Following a decade of below average rainfall, drought and fires there have been a number of flood events since 2010 with some resulting in areas of farmland and communities under water for an extended period of time, as well as causing damage to natural assets. Events such as these, as well as other factors including highly variable water allocations, dairy industry restructure, a high Australian dollar, and other pressures related to the global financial crisis and increased competition, has contributed to a significant fall in the gross value of agriculture production in the Catchment.

As a result of the complexity and variable nature of these social, economic and environmental factors, the Authority has committed to the use of the concept of resilience in developing this Strategy. Resilience is defined as a system’s (such as a region, catchment, ecosystem, farm or industry) capacity to absorb disturbance and continue to function in a desired way. Resilience thinking considers regions as complex systems where people and the natural environment continually interact, and where changes in one will inevitably result in changes in the other. Importantly, the process for developing the RCS using a resilience approach requires that a large number of opinions and expertise (both community and scientific) are considered, and this helps to bring together a picture of a dynamic region influenced by multiple and complex factors that all influence the health of the Catchment. 

Building or maintaining the resilience of a region requires an understanding of how the system functions and its limits to absorb disturbances. Management interventions are then designed to avoid reaching those limits or getting back within those limits where they have already been reached.  These management interventions are implemented in an adaptive way that continually tests the assumptions, learns from the interventions, and scans for changes to any of the key dynamics.

The Goulburn Broken CMA recognises its critical role in forming and developing regional partnerships with the community and all levels of government.  The Authority has run a broad communication and engagement approach that has, for the first time, embraced the use of social media and on-line engagement tools to bring together the information needed to develop this RCS. In tandem with more traditional forms of consultation including a multi-agency project management team, town hall style meetings and direct consultation with a broad range of stakeholder groups including local government, landcare, U3A, and Indigenous representatives, we believe that this approach will lead to the development of a meaningful Strategy with a high degree of regional ownership. 

The RCS is a living document that will be regularly reviewed and updated over its life. This will require the Goulburn Broken CMA to continually engage with the regional community and partner agencies to ensure we use an adaptive management approach to enhancing the resilience of the Catchment as we face a number of known and unknown challenges in the future.

Regional Catchment Strategy 2013-2019