A look at the achievements of the VCMC

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning recently published a retrospective on the achievements and contributions of the Victorian Catchment Management Council (VCMC). Releasing the report also marks the completion of VCMC’s work and describes the comprehensive achievements to improve Victoria’s catchments and waterways.

The independent government advisory body was appointed under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and spent 24 years providing expert advice and influencing key policy decisions to maintain healthy river and catchment systems.

The VCMC led the integration of the Catchment Management Framework and raised awareness about land stewardship and indigenous engagement and employment.

Established with Jeremy Gaylard as the first Chair of the Council, the VCMC represented the interests of the nine water catchment boards and replaced the Victorian Catchment and Land Protection Council. The new structure saw Victorian Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) given more autonomy over operational elements.

The Council cultivated a collaborative environment between CMAs, regional communities and the state government. It was an important platform to discuss topics, including ecosystem services, knowledge management, climate change, environmental economic accounting, Indigenous issues, using market-based instruments for integrated catchment management, changes in demographics and new policies.

The VCMC established the Regional Catchment Strategy Guidelines in 1997, 2002, 2010 and 2019. These guidelines are firmly founded on the requirements of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. They included existing and emerging ideas to align with new thinking, new information and new technologies. Regional Catchment Strategies, first released in 1997, have been pioneering documents, being the first catchment based integrated catchment management strategies produced statewide.

The VCMC published its first Catchment Condition and Management Report in 1997, with further reports in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017. Each report provided an innovative approach to reporting, featuring a suite of catchment condition indicators developed over the life of the VCMC. These reports have driven a long-term vision for managing Victoria’s natural resources.

The Framework led to various grant programs and initiatives funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments, administered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and implemented through CMAs, such as the Caring for our Country and National Landcare programs.

You can read more about the Council and their work on their website.