Implementing the Strategy

The long-term vision and priorities for the South West NRM region have been developed by SWCC in consultation with the South West NRM community, and are articulated in the strategy.

The Regional NRM Strategy presents the biophysical plan for the South West NRM Region and includes opportunities for action by all NRM stakeholders under six major program themes.

SWCC plays a major role in achieving the objectives of the strategy, in alliance with the Australian, State and Local Governments, community NRM groups and other organisations, and its role is pivotal in achieving a coordinated approach to NRM investment in the region.
The strategy forms part of SWCC’s 4-tier planning framework as shown, comprising:

SWCC Framework

  •  a Regional NRM Strategy (where SWCC is the custodian);
  • vision, mission and strategic objectives that are defined by the 3-year Corporate Strategic Plan
  • annual initiatives that are aligned to the strategic objectives and stated in the annual Operations Plan; and
  • detailed program and project-based documentation that defines the actual implementation works in detail.

This provides a comprehensive framework that facilitates strategy through to implementation, and enables performance measurement at all levels of the process.

Setting targets for action

Resource Condition Targets (RCTs) and Management Action Targets (MATs) were described in the previous Regional NRM Strategy (SWCC 2005) and these were refined by SWCC to ensure that they were SMART and better reflect the needs of the MERI system set up by the Australian Government (Christensen and McMahon 2012).

The number of targets in the first strategy was so large, however, that it was difficult for a user to determine what, where and how management actions should be prioritised. This approach was appropriate at the time, but SWCC and its partners later required a document that could be used as an adaptive management framework. The targets for the second strategy were therefore simplified and amalgamated as much as possible, to ensure that it was a concise and effective management guide. These targets are maintained in the supporting Project Management Matrices.

What are Project Planning Matrices (PPM’s)?

Project Planning Matrices (PPMs) have been separately developed for each theme area and provide the framework for relevant MERIT programs. The PPMs include all priority assets with planned outcomes of proposed activities and defines sets of indicators that can be used to determine their effectiveness.

PPMs are used by SWCC and its partners to guide future investment planning and as an effective monitoring and evaluation tool so that management actions are as effective and cost-efficient as possible.  To view the detailed Project Planning Matrices. Click here.

Guiding principles for strategy development

The following principles guided development of the strategy and also serve as the standard for all NRM work in the South West region that SWCC and its partners are involved with. They have been adapted from those previously defined by the South West Catchments Council and its partners (SWCC 2005):

  1. SWCC and its partners recognise the value to humanity of the natural assets within the region’s landscape, and strives to protect and enhance those values wherever possible.
  2. The precautionary principle is always to be applied, as all life forms have intrinsic value and warrant conservation independent of human needs.
  3. SWCC and its partners focus wherever possible, on dealing with the cause, not just the symptoms, of the threats to the region’s natural assets.
  4. SWCC and its partners focus management actions on what can be successfully managed, i.e. the action should be cost effective, technically feasible and socially acceptable.
  5. Projects and programs will be designed and prioritised based on the landscape-scale approach wherever possible using documented science and strong evidence of their ability to address cross-sectoral NRM issues across multiple priority assets to ensure that:
    a. overall ecosystem function and resilience is preserved;
    b. species migration and adaptation is facilitated; and
    c. connectivity is maintained or preferably increased.
  6. The threat of climate change is recognised as a widespread, cross-cutting issue that will have major impacts on all other aspects of NRM work in the region. Projects and programs will take this into account, while acknowledging that significant challenges and funding opportunities specific to climate change remain to be addressed.
  7. The prime responsibility for the management of natural resources lies with the landowner and/or manager.
  8. The wider community has the right to be consulted on decisions and actions that affect them.
  9. Decision-making processes should effectively integrate short- and long-term environmental, social and economic considerations, and be open and equitable.
  10. NRM action priorities will be determined with stakeholder involvement, and will be based on the best available knowledge and continuous improvement methods.

In addition, the following broad aspirational targets set by the Australian Government, which SWCC has endorsed, have also guided development of the Strategy:

  • Minimise, avoid or reduce the impact of salinity on land and water resources.
  • Maintain or rehabilitate the extent, diversity and condition of native ecosystems.
  • Maintain or rehabilitate populations of significant species and ecological communities.
  • Maintain or rehabilitate ecosystem services and functions.
  • Avoid or minimise the impact of threatening processes on locations and systems that are critical for conservation of biodiversity, agricultural production, towns, infrastructure and cultural and social values.
  • Securely allocate surface water and groundwater supplies for sustainable production purposes and to support human uses and the environment, within the sustainable capacity of those resources.
  • Maintain or enhance surface and groundwater quality.
  • Develop sustainable production systems and put management practices into place that maintain or rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services, maintain or enhance resource quality, maintain productive capacity and prevent and manage degradation.