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Charles Sturt University (2014)

The Case for Social Catchments : New Methods for Engaging Local Communities in Natural Resource Management

Friedrich, Janine

Titre : The Case for Social Catchments : New Methods for Engaging Local Communities in Natural Resource Management

Auteur : Friedrich, Janine

Université de soutenance : Charles Sturt University

Grade : Master of Philosophy 2014

This thesis explores the potential of social catchments as a tool to organise community engagement in forums on Natural Resource Management. Different modes of social catchments as developed by the Eco-civic project and P.J. Smailes as alternative methods for spatially capturing and organising the community areas for administration, governance, natural resource management (NRM) and research were investigated. Social catchments had been theorised as comprising of the self-identified community or region inhabited by individuals and households who regularly interact together. Social catchments had not, however, been tested to determine whether they are effective in bringing together communities to work on NRM issues. This thesis made use of the ‘Engaging local communities in NRM’ forums ran by the Central Tablelands Landcare Management Committee in 2006 to determine whether social catchments were representative of the community areas people chose to be engaged in and whether these social catchments matched the scale, fit and types of local NRM activity. The effectiveness of social catchments to gauge target and recruit forum participants was evaluated. Participants’ characterisations of NRM were compared to those used in the Eco-civic project and the Australian government. Finally, the fit between social catchments formulated by the Eco-civic project and Smailes was compared to the areas where participants carried out NRM activities and would attend NRM meetings locations. A relatively small proportion of the Central Tablelands NRM stakeholders were brought together by the forums. Forum participants were predominantly Landcare members. The social catchments concept effectively targeted pre-existing Landcare networks, but needed more resources and effort to capture other people interested in NRM. Participants’ characterisations of NRM were personal, subjective, and interlinked with biophysical, hydrological, cultural, sociological, political, and economic dimensions. This contrasted greatly with the federal government definition that typified NRM as being about the stewardship of economically valuable assets. The eco-civic modelling of NRM areas was found to be based on biophysical characteristics that could be spatially grouped. There was little similarity between the issues given importance by government agencies and those characteristics used in the Eco-civic project. The forums examined in this thesis represented a lost opportunity in changing how people were engaged in NRM due to the failure to achieve a more diverse representation of the Central Tablelands communities. Mismatch of scales was evident in all the differing modes of social catchment organisation and the scale of NRM activity and the Landcare forums, accentuating a clear difference between scales of engagement and NRM governance, with governance catchment based and NRM activity and community engagement unequivocally localised. It can be inferred from this that community engagement activities need to target individuals beyond the traditionally targeted groups if there is to be a wider representation at community forums and genuine community engagement achieved. It was also found that sponsorship of community engagement efforts may possibly be a barrier to people disenfranchised from the sponsoring organisation.

Mots clés : Eco-civic Landcare Natural resource management Social catchments


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Page publiée le 30 novembre 2014, mise à jour le 11 juin 2018