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A framework for comparing collaborative management of Australian and New Zealand water resources

Kenneth F. D. Hughey, Department of Environmental Management, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand; Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Chris Jacobson, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Erin F. Smith, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia


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Collaborative management of natural resources involves two or more parties working together to govern and/or manage a set of resources within a defined area. Although a number of collaborative management frameworks have been developed for protected area and fisheries management, few exist for freshwater resources that enable their comparative analysis. We present a framework of collaborative management for freshwater resources comprising three elements: scope, governance, and management. Application of the framework to 11 cases from Australia and New Zealand differentiates between primarily consultation/government-based arrangements through to cogovernance arrangements. Our framework differs from others because it highlights the multiscalar and nested nature of collaborative management arrangements that influence effective water resource management. Our analysis highlights the diversity of arrangements that exist for freshwater resource management. Cases involving indigenous groups, a social tradition of waterways management, and those outside the scope of national water resource management reforms generally had higher levels of power sharing and involvement. We argue for greater attention to the effectiveness of and links between governance and management processes to ensure collaborative management remains innovative and appropriate to context. We contribute a framework that contains a continua and three core elements that enables a parsimonious evaluation that could be applied to other resource management contexts and, thus avoids criticism of overly prescriptive, simplistic, and idealistic analysis.

Key words

Australia; cogovernance; collaborative management; governance; management; New Zealand; scope; water resources

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087