Journal article

Charting the emergence of a ‘knowing system’ for climate change adaptation in Australian regional natural resource management

Natural resources Knowledge management Research Climate change Collaboration evidence-based practice Tasmania Victoria New South Wales

Climate change increases the complexity and uncertainty of regional natural resource management (NRM), calling into question the appropriateness of linear knowledge-transfer approaches. In this paper we reflect on knowledge practices among a partnership of researchers and NRM planners, under a federal program of NRM investment intended to ‘deliver information’ to regional NRM planners to support planning for climate change. We unpack ‘container’ and ‘conduit’ metaphors of linear, one-way communication invoked by the starting conditions, and explore whether more relational ways of communicating were achieved. A key theme emerged early in the research that NRM planners felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available and discouraged by the irrelevance of much of it to their climate change planning. Our research-practice collaboration unfolded in this context and through ongoing face-to-face and virtual engagement over a period of two years. The collaborative approach featured joint identification of priority activities, co-design of planning approaches, and the iterative co-development of an online ‘information portal’, which acted as a boundary object. We report the emergence of a ‘knowing system’, resulting from these efforts to foster relationships and co-produce boundary objects in a particular geographic context. Our findings highlight the potential benefits of investing in the capacity of researchers and NRM practitioners to engage in collaborative research partnerships premised on the emergence of knowing systems.

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