The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and catchment management authorities (CMA) face significant and escalating challenges if they are to meet the core objectives of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (the Act), which are to maintain and enhance long-term land productivity while also conserving the environment. While existing catchment management approaches are delivering some gains, they are inadequate to meet these challenges.
Statewide catchment conditions are poorly understood because of inconsistent assessment methods and a number of deficiencies in the adequacy and quality of data collected.
The limited information currently available suggests that the condition of catchments across the state is continuing to deteriorate.
The Act prescribes an integrated, long-term approach to catchment management. However, the existing statewide approach is fragmented and short-term in focus, with no expectations regarding the quality of land and water resources needed to meet the Act's objectives.
Despite these weaknesses, CMAs have developed six-year regional catchment strategies that promote long-term catchment management approaches at a regional level. However, short-term resourcing and a lack of accountability among partner agencies constrain the CMAs' ability to plan for and deliver long-term outcomes.
DEPI and CMAs are now working to develop a more coherent statewide approach, with improved monitoring of catchment condition, clearer roles and responsibilities, and a longer-term focus.