Multi-objective planning in northern Australia: co-benefits and trade-offs between environmental, economic, and cultural outcomes: Final report to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero, Milena Kiatkoski Kim, David Pannell, Michael Douglas, Ken Wallace, Rosemary Hill, Vanessa M. Adams, Alaya Spencer-Cotton, Mark J. Kennard, Robert L. Pressey

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Abstract

Given ongoing plans to develop northern Australia and resulting tensions among diverse interest groups, there is a need to develop new planning approaches that support multiple land and water uses while maintaining environmental and cultural values. This project aimed to demonstrate one way to operationalise multi-objective catchment planning by creating and exploring scenarios. The project used the Fitzroy River catchment in the Kimberley region of Western Australia as a case study, hereafter ‘Fitzroy catchment’. We used participatory scenario planning (PSP) to systematically examine possible development trajectories and their environmental and socioeconomic outcomes. Scenarios are stories that consider how alternative futures may unfold and allow people to consider and discuss their perceptions and visions of the future. Scenarios are helpful to identify opportunities and risks associated with decisions – for example, environmental and socioeconomic changes associated with alternative development options. Through this multi-stakeholder PSP process, Traditional Owners and stakeholders (hereafter ‘scenarios team’) collaboratively built and assessed the outcomes of four alternative futures for the catchment in 2050.
Based on a whole-of-catchment approach, our PSP process recognises the strong connections and interdependence between land, water, and people. It emphasises the value of integrated catchment-to-coast and bioregional approaches to planning and the importance of close collaboration with Traditional Owners. The process demonstrates the need to develop conservation, restoration, and development plans that are genuinely co-designed with the local community.

This technical report describes the process and outputs of this project, which can be used in similar projects aiming to inform future land and water use decisions. The project was developed in five stages, hereafter ‘modules’, which describe the methodologies, tools, inputs, and outputs used.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherJames Cook University
Number of pages120
ISBN (Print)978-0-6489220-2-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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