Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Regional NRM body contribution: South West NRM

Renee Moore

Communication and Education Officer,

Set the scene; describe the general regional resource and demographic situation

South West NRM is the designated regional body for the delivery of the Natural Heritage Trust (the Trust) within the Bulloo, Nebine-Mungallala-Wallam, Paroo and Warrego catchments and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAPSWQ) within the Nebine-Mungallala-Wallam catchment of South West Queensland (refer to Map 1).

Map 1. South West NRM region

As a community-based company, South West NRM’s vision is reflective of community values and priorities for natural resource management in the region:

The community working together to build healthy, sustainable, attractive and profitable regions, through the effective management of our natural resources.

The South West NRM region covers an area of approximately 187,000km2 and has an estimated population of 10,000. The majority of the population lives and works either on rural properties or in small towns. The main land uses in the region are cattle and sheep grazing and mining.

The environment is categorised as semi-arid; extending across a large part of the mulga lands bioregion. The vegetation of the region is dominated by mulga; however the country also supports communities of poplar box and silver-leaved ironbark, and smaller areas of coolibah, river red gum and Yapunyah on the floodplains. Spinifex, canegrass and communities of Mitchell grass, cypress pine, brigalow and belah can also be found in the region

The main natural resource issues for the region are: decline in native pastures on land types where grazing exceeds safe carrying capacities; weeds and feral pests; declining condition of riverine, floodplain and wetland areas; soil erosion; unsustainable extraction from the Great Artesian Basin; and loss of biodiversity. Surface water quality and flows are currently maintained within acceptable standards, largely due to minimal development of intensive agriculture in the region.

Outline the approach to implementing activities funded by the RIS

The business of South West NRM is directed by the Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) Plan, a community-made plan for natural resource management which will deliver strategic programs and actions to tackle regional natural resource issues. The NRM Plan was developed in partnership with the Queensland Murray Darling Committee (QMDC) and hence covers both regional areas and issues.

The partner document to the NRM Plan is the Regional Investment Strategy (RIS) 2005-2007, which implements the NRM Plan’s programs and actions. In contrast to the NRM Plan, the RIS was developed solely by South West NRM and is based on South West NRM region-specific issues prioritised from the joint NRM Plan.

The decision to produce a regional-specific RIS was based on stakeholder feedback as well as the increased capacity of the company to produce such a strategy.

Across nine (9) thematic areas detailed within the NRM Plan, the RIS informs seven (7) comprehensive Investment Programs for targeted works:

1. PLANSCAPES delivers priority planning and resource assessment at multi-property scales;

2. FUTURESCAPES is the primary vehicle for on-ground works and investments;

3. Communication, Education and Capacity Building delivers strategic activities that increase on-ground outputs through education and capacity building;

4. Policy and Partnerships focuses on developing and implementing partnership investments and outcomes with Local government, Traditional Owners and other stakeholder groups;

5. Landscape Assessment and Research identifies resource condition and trend gaps and delivers priority research components;

6. Monitoring and Evaluation encompasses all essential M&E activities relevant to internal and external M&E pathways;

7. Core Costs encompasses the critical operating associated with Company business and the Board of Directors.

Highlight activities/strategies that you think have or will work well

FUTURESCAPES is South West NRM's principle delivery mechanism for on-ground outcomes leading to fulfilment of MAT/s and RCT/s identified in the NRM Plan.

Priority issues identified by the community in the NRM Plan targeted for on-ground investment include: nature conservation; rehabilitating degraded land; protecting riverine, floodplain and wetlands; weed and pest animal management; and salinity remediation and prevention.

Investment through the FUTURESCAPES program is allocated through a selection process that incorporates geographic prioritisation and property and catchment-scale planning. Specific rounds of FUTURESCAPES will focus on attracting projects which tackle specific NRM issues as a means to effectively target such issues.

Priority is also given to on-ground works that involve groups of landholders developing strategic actions for the wider landscape, specifically those land managers participating in PLANSCAPES. This process enables on-ground activities through the FUTURESCAPES program to target priority RCT/s.

The FUTURESCAPES program was undertaken for the first time in December 2004 and projects are now nearing completion. The investment allocated a total of 120 km of fencing materials, 95 kilometres of poly pipe and 28 troughs. These projects will allow greater protection of 50 km of high value riparian and floodplain areas, two natural springs, one wetland and two nature conservation areas.

PLANSCAPES is a multi-property scale planning initiative addressing land management issues that negatively impact upon soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity in the South West NRM region.

PLANSCAPES promotes adoption of Current Recommended Practices (CRP/s) and implementation of integrated and strategic local scale NRM plans to address perceived inadequacies in long-term planning, relevant local information and ad-hoc approaches to implementing NRM on-ground works.

PLANSCAPES targets land manager groups in priority landscapes through a system of research, mapping and data analysis. Participants undertake a series of workshops consisting of exercises in goal setting, resource inventory, mapping, action planning and monitoring and evaluation. The Grazing Land Management project component, delivered by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, promotes the use of local research on grazing systems to assist in the formulation of action plans.

Prioritising issues at property and multi-property scales will enable South West NRM to direct investment into achieving RCT/s identified in the NRM Plan. The implementation of multiple action plans will result in catchment-scale on-ground improvements in natural resource management. Priority issues include: grazing of land types in excess of safe carrying capacities; inappropriate land use for land type; absence of fire; loss of ground cover vegetation; soil erosion; salinity; decline in water quality; native and exotic weed invasion; pest animal infestation and biodiversity loss.

The first PLANSCAPES / GLM workshop series will be undertaken in the northern Bulloo River region in early October. Feedback from the group indicates that they are looking forward to addressing issues related to improved grazing management on the Bulloo River floodplains and planning the control and management of weeds to prevent infestations downstream.

Community NRM Forums

Community NRM Forums are an important method by which South West NRM will deliver regional NRM information and engage the community. The Community NRM Forums are a unique and effective way to achieve greater community involvement in NRM in the region, an essential component to achieving sustainable NRM.

Each member is an official member of South West NRM with voting rights at South West NRM’s Annual General Meetings. Members are registered on a central database under one of the following sectors: Local government; Industry; Indigenous; Conservation; Community/Landcare, with members’ special interests in the nine thematic areas listed in the NRM Plan also noted.

Members receive a range of services direct from South West NRM including opportunities to participate in training and attend sponsored conferences; however the most important output of the system is accessing community skills to make decisions about NRM in the region. For example, members from each catchment were accessed to form the regional assessment panel for FUTURESCAPES Round 1.

There are currently 30 members from across the four South West NRM region.

WaterWise South West Queensland

One of the common urban myths about water in South West Queensland concerns the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), the primary source of water for the region, where it is generally believed that when rivers run in flood and when it rains, the water runs straight back into the Great Artesian basin. As a consequence, community appreciation of the importance of water conservation has been limited.

To launch the Waterwise South West Queensland campaign, South West NRM joined forces with Local government, with funding from NR&M’s Community Awareness Grants, to develop a locally-relevant brochure with information to help eliminate such water myths. The brochure also contains information about why it is important to save water and how community members can implement strategies, as well as identifies the top ten Waterwise plants for the local Shire area.

During the launch in May 2005, Whizzy Waterdrop wandered the main streets of town handing out brochures and balloons. Whizzy also visited the Charleville State Primary School to help involve students in a Waterwise activity and raise awareness.

The campaign works along side the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), which targets and promotes sustainable use of GAB water by eliminating groundwater wastage through the capping of bores and replacement of bore drains for the pastoral industry.

The general South West community responded well to the launch with the help of a free sausage sizzle and a Waterwise display at the front of the South West NRM office. The event also strengthened relationships with Local and State government representatives.

“Monitoring Made Easy” community resource monitoring system

The aim of the community resource monitoring system is to provide an easy and efficient method by which community members can record changes in natural resources in their local environment

“Monitoring made easy” focuses on 12 resource indicators which are aligned with the National Indicators for Resource Condition. The indicators are categorised under the natural resource topics of ‘Pasture and Soil’, ‘Biodiversity’ and ‘Water Quality’. On-ground, the monitoring set-up is based on a photo point whereby any combination of12 indicators may be measured at any point in time.

There are 2 main components of the “Monitoring made easy” system: 1) a GUIDE which contains all the information needed to implement the monitoring activities and 2) three monitoring KITS categorised as: Pasture and Soil; Biodiversity; Water Quality; which are available for community members to borrow free of charge and contain about 95% of the equipment needed to carry-out the monitoring activities.

The monitoring system complements on-ground works initiatives such as FUTURESCAPES and the Australian government Envirofund and works well as a relatively easy option for participants to fulfill monitoring requirements.

More recently, South West NRM have partnered with Rangelands Australia to use the “Monitoring Made Easy” system as part of their “Introduction to Monitoring for Management” short course.

Traditional Owner Advisory Group

With the assistance of South West NRM, the Far South West Aboriginal NRM Group (FSWANRMG) was formed in 2004, as the Traditional Owner advisory group for natural resource management in the South West NRM region.

Two representatives from each local Indigenous group make up FSWANRMG; representatives are Native Title claimants or community members nominated by claimants to represent their group.

The group are heavily involved in providing advice and assistance to all community members who wish to progress on-ground projects that achieve environmental outcomes while enhancing culturally significant values.

The group generally meets four times a year and participation at these meetings has been very strong.

Warrego River Walk of Discovery

Around 90 people attended South West NRM’s ‘Warrego River Walk of Discovery’ in celebration of Landcare Week 2005 and in collaboration with the Charleville River Walk Group.

Signs documenting information about native plants, weeds, local history and human pressures were strategically placed along a walking track meandering through the Warrego river environment. Participants were given a question and feedback sheet to fill in and empty bags to collect rubbish as they walked.

On their return, participants were able to enjoy a range of activities, including painting a picture of the river environment, entering the “Guess the number of Noogoora burrs” competition and signing-up with the Charleville Landcare Group.

The event was deemed highly successful at raising awareness about South West NRM as a community-based company, as well as raising awareness of local NRM issues associated with rivers in the region.

Identify some issues that might impede progress and could therefore challenge the 'symposium' to offer solutions for these

  • The current NRM Plan is a joint document between two regional bodies (covering both South West NRM and QMDC regions), and not all issues that the plan identifies are high priority for the South West NRM region.
  • Funding should not be based on the size or population base of a region, but rather it should be based on impacts/environmental changes attempted to be made
  • Flawed process of in-kind contributions from State government – basing commitments on NRM Plans rather than RIS/s
  • Attracting and keeping skilled staff in a remote locations
  • Recognition of what remote regional bodies are achieving by those who need to i.e. Ministers, coastal population; often a case of ‘out of sight out of mind’.
  • ‘Burn-out’ of staff who have been through the long NRM and RIS process
  • Expectation of staff in smaller regional bodies to multi-task to a very high level
  • Expectations on community decision-makers for involvement; often results in ‘burn-out’, especially in regions where the population in low (i.e. greater demands on fewer people)
  • Expectation of regionally remote staff to travel to attend meetings outside region; reduced output time; more stress; fatigue.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page