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Sustaining local values through river basin governance: community-based initiatives in Australia's Murray–Darling basin

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Australia's Murray–Darling basin (MDB) water plan is an ambitious attempt to balance ecological, social and economic benefits, where a key aspect of the reform process has been recovery of water for environmental use. This paper focuses on a set of initiatives established by a local non-governmental organisation and an Indigenous community designed to engage with local values and priorities and incorporate them into this complex river basin governance system. Contrary to expectations that local and basin-scale interests and outcomes will diverge, the case studies reveal the ability for local groups to collaboratively manage both land and water resources to achieve locally important outcomes, and contribute to basin-scale outcomes. The analysis also highlights a progressive style of community-based environmental management for water management that utilises multiple institutional arrangements and planning pathways to protect the values that are important to local communities, and to nest those values within the broader effort to sustainably manage the basin's water resources.
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Keywords: integrated water planning and management; local action; monitoring and evaluation; values

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Land and Water Flagship, CSIRO, Brisbane, Australia 2: Department of Political Science and Walter G. Booth School of Engineering Practice, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada 3: Land and Water Flagship, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia

Publication date: December 2, 2015

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