University of Tasmania
Shaw, Janette whole thesis.pdf (2.68 MB)

Environmental governance of coasts

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:36 authored by Shaw, JR
The problem of managing Australia's coasts has been a focus of concern for at least the past three decades. The Australian Government's State of the Environment Report in 2011 recognised that our coasts, as well as being some of the our most iconic natural areas, are some of Australia's most heavily settled areas,‚ÄövÑvp but noted continued environmental degradation and decreasing environmental sustainability of coastal regions, where 'business as usual' is likely to lead to undesirable outcomes for coast.‚ÄövÑvp This thesis utilises the emerging field of environmental governance as a lens to examine progress in environmental management of the coast. Environmental governance has dealt with processes of efficiency, effectiveness, institutional arrangements, social justice and capacity building, but much of this literature focuses on process and lacks an outcome and performance orientation. A review of the environmental governance literature drawing on natural resource management, ecology, management theory, politics and international law, was undertaken. This review, highlighting specifically Driessen et al's insights that environmental governance includes all kinds of measure deliberately taken to prevent, reduce and/or mitigate harmful effects on the environment‚ÄövÑvp and the means by which society determines and acts on goals related to the management of the environment‚ÄövÑvp identified key criteria of environmental governance. These criteria were considered to provide a robust base to a framework of analysis to apply to empirical examples to assess achievement of environmental management goals. These criteria are: environmental objectives in strategic planning, spatial links to ecological techniques, thresholds and feedback loops, advocacy, and knowledge management. The empirical focus of research centres on three selected case studies of natural resource management in coastal areas of Victoria, Australia. The case studies of terrestrial (wetlands) and freshwater management (environmental flows) are generally neglected in coastal management that tends to focus on littoral or marine issues. A third case study of marine protected areas encompasses both coastal and marine areas. These cases studies; freshwater environmental flows, coastal wetlands management, and marine protected areas are government programs interacting with community and other actors. While there are constraints in analysis from a limited number of case studies that cover a large, but not all, area of Victoria's coastal zone, these data can, however, provide important insights in outcome focused environmental governance. Analysis of the cases showed that environmental objectives in strategic planning, spatial links to ecological techniques, advocacy and knowledge management were found to be major contributors to achievement of environmental management goals in each of the case studies with thresholds and monitoring, the criterion least subscribed to in the three case studies. The extended period of time taken to get spatial components allocated to the environment has contributed to this. These processes took well over 20 years, lowering the immediate importance of thresholds and monitoring. Recent emphasis has been on monitoring, definition of ecological character and resilience. At a micro scale, the research also highlighted that objectives developed outside of government, the importance of science, paid advocacy and including knowledge suitable for the general public contribute to achieving progress in environmental governance. This lengthy time period to achieve key goals in all three case studies is a major finding. This is most notable in terms of environmental flows (27 years), and marine reserves (24 years). It was found that is was impossible to move quickly on environmental objectives, given the impact of institutional arrangements, and management structures, the need for research and agreement on science techniques, as well as gaining broad community support. In addition it was noted that extremely lengthy implementation periods made the development of thresholds and feedback loops extremely unlikely. Advocacy that was paid or resourced from government was a critical factor, as was compensation. It was found that science was extremely important in the negotiations for the environment and that the hard yards‚ÄövÑvp of negotiating with key user groups were unavoidable. Knowledge management pointed to the critical nature of providing information in forms that the public can understand including the terms that were used and the descriptions that they could relate to. Existing property rights and land tenure contributed to the lengthy time to achieve performance along with getting the public and others to understand the issues involved. Analysis of the case study data also enabled a checklist for environmental governance to be developed. This evolution in environmental governance is a substantial step to assist performance.


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