Adaptive management implementation plan

Figure 5: An Adaptive PlanThe proposed SDLs are an important starting point for the Basin Plan process. However, they are not the end of the debate. The Authority is committed to an adaptive management approach to all aspects of the Basin Plan, and has specifically included in the draft Basin Plan a requirement that the SDLs must be reviewed in 2015. This chapter explains how this will work.

Adaptive management and localism

Two of the key principles for the development, implementation and revision of the Basin Plan are the need for adaptive management and the need for localism.

Adaptive management is essentially the idea of learning from doing. It begins by applying existing knowledge, from different sources, to management. Management is adaptive when decision makers acknowledge uncertainty, continually monitor social, ecological and economic information, and include this information in future management actions.

Adaptive management means the Basin Plan will change and evolve over time to incorporate new knowledge, improved hydrological modelling, prevailing weather and climate conditions, previous outcomes, changing priorities and the requirements of different parts of the Basin.

Adaptive management also builds flexibility into planning. There are operational decisions that cannot be made in advance or on a Basin-wide level. They must be made in real time and at a local level. For example, in the case of environmental water use, heavy localised rainfall may provide managers with the opportunity at short notice to flood a river red gum forest using a minimal amount of additional water.

The success of the Basin Plan and associated water reforms is dependent on local involvement. Localism in water management is about governments partnering with (and using and improving the capacity of) local and regional communities to manage water and other natural resources in an integrated way. Localism includes involving communities in developing and implementing reforms so that they have ownership of decisions and actions. It also allows local knowledge and solutions to be drawn on to meet local needs, while recognising those that fit within Basin and catchment scale strategies and actions.

Only by incorporating localism into adaptive management can managers deliver the best outcomes.

Figure 5: An Adaptive Plan

Figure 5: When the Basin Plan commences in 2012, there will be seven years before the sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) commence in 2019. The SDLs will be reviewed in 2015 (and possibly amended) based on new lines of evidence. Environmental water will be recovered through investment in water-saving irrigation infrastructure and a steady and measured water purchase program over the period to 2019. Local communities will have the opportunity to provide input into all these activities.

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This is an excerpt of a paper originally written by George Miller, Founder of PROACTION. It has been modified and updated by Paul Deis, PROACTION CEO. This article is also available on our website: PROACTION - Generating Best Practices