Findings from a review of regional NRM plans
This paper reviews the content of non-statutory regional natural resource management (NRM) plans from several Queensland regions in terms of their consideration of the economic viability of natural resource dependant enterprises and industries, the plans consideration of the region's ability of regions to respond positively to external change pressures and internal variability, and their consideration of the relevant population, employment and service provision characteristics of the region. The review indicated that most regional plans referred to regional frameworks for growth management or regional economic development planning in detail and an appreciation of building a reliable picture of regional economies, industries and communities was evident in plans. Most plans described significant drivers pressures and threats to the viability of resource industries and related market or economic threats to the resource base. Many of the higher order 'aspirational targets' or goals in plans seek toachieve or integrate economic and social wellbeing with resource management objectives. A small number of plans explicitly outlined criteria for priority setting, including 'best value for money' or cost effectiveness and 'contribution to ecological, economic and social services to the region'. Other criteria used for prioritising investment included: 'retaining or increasing employment', 'increasing Gross Regional Product' and 'sustainability of business income'. Some plans referred to having undertaken some form of 'social and economic analysis, with participants from local government, industry, community groups, and land managers' and that 'tradeoffs between social, economic and environmental benefits were considered'. In general, the different types and functions of indicators available for regional NRM were discussed in plans, however specific measures or indicators relevant to economic attributes of NRM were rarely articulated. The development of a separate monitoring and evaluation strategy, or targeted investment through the Regional Investment Strategies was often reported as the vehicle for progressing this aspect of planning.