|Year of Publication||2005|
|Series Title||Analyzing the Australian NRM Knowledge System|
|Keywords||australia, External, farming, knowledge, NRM, property rights, water resources|
The management of Australia’s rich endowment of natural resources is a national priority. The role of knowledge in the Australian sustainability agenda is critical. We simply cannot afford expensive regulatory or subsidy regimes to influence the behaviour of people and firms managing naturalresources. Rather, we need to develop systems of land and water use and management that meet our ever-changing lifestyle and livelihood needs profitably, while sustaining the long term productive capacity of the resource base and looking after our unique natural heritage for future generations of Australians. This paper attempts to map and analyse the natural resource management (NRM) knowledge system in Australia. For the purposes of this analysis, the NRM knowledge system is the aggregation of measures that we have established over the years to generate, extend, transform, record, share and exchange knowledge about Australia’s natural resources and their management. The most obvious characteristic of the Australian NRM knowledge system at first glance is its complexity. The skills, experience, rules of thumb and natural talents of land and water managers including farmers, Indigenous people and water authorities comprise a large proportion of Australia’s total NRM knowledge base. With so many players, an important requirement of a knowledge system is the linkage and coordination capacity to ensure that ‘the left hand knows what the right hand is doing’ – that individual components of the system can find out what is happening elsewhere and are connected to the other bits of the system that they need in order to do their own jobs well. However while there are pockets of excellence in individual components of the system, this analysis suggests that the system as a whole is not working as well as it could or should. It sets out some design criteria for identifying improvements at the level of the whole system: In terms of direction, there should be some capacity first to comprehend the system as a whole, and then to influence it – to change course in response to changing needs and to shift resources to strategic priorities. In terms of function, the system should support and reinforce learning – making transparent and accessible the activities, actors, knowledge base and lessons – throughout the system. It should meet the knowledge needs of its intended beneficiaries (summarised in section 4), and it should be built on a very solid platform of basic data and information to support feedback through monitoring and evaluation so that progress can be tracked, and strategy and management adapted accordingly. A greater degree of national cohesion is required for the system to start to perform to its potential.