Growing recognition of the need
For over a decade, Victoria's CMAs and Melbourne Water have worked hard to build a partnership approach to riparian management with private landholders. The results are impressive: over 8,500 management agreements put in place, 7,800 km of waterways have been fenced, and over 30,000 ha of riparian land has been protected (DEPI 2013, p107).
Given that public funds are used for these riparian works, it is critical to protect the investment in the long-term. Agreements between CMAs and landholders incorporating long-term landholder management responsibilities such as fence maintenance and weed management are intended as a mechanism to help protect the investment. On Crown land, the landholder's responsibilities are also incorporated into their frontage licence conditions.
It is well documented and accepted that regardless of formal agreements, landholder commitment to undertaking the long-term management and caring for the site is critical to ensure that management occurs. An ongoing level of CMA engagement with landholders post works is important to foster that commitment and attempt to ensure each landholder keeps their motivation and commitment to undertaking the long-term management of the riparian site.
Furthermore, numerous evaluations of riparian works and surveys of landholders involved in works have identified that landholders would like more contact with CMAs after the completion of the on-ground riparian works (CSIRO and Wimmera CMA 2011, DPI 2011, Greg Peters and Ed Thexton 2010, North East CMA 2008). The various investigations show many landholders may just want some advice from a CMA representative and may feel the need to have what they are doing validated. This may simply mean the CMA, by keeping in contact, lets the landholder know that they are still part of a bigger program and that the CMA 'still cares'.
There is also a need for existing and future riparian work sites on both Crown and private riparian land to have some sort of follow up inspection to ensure that the sites are being managed according to the responsibilities and obligations specified in the agreements.
Meeting policy commitments
This project supports Policy 9.7 of the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy (VWMS) (DEPI 2013), which states that CMAs 'will maintain long-term contact with landholders who have agreements, including site visits as appropriate. Maintaining long-term relationships with landholders will help to ensure that the sites are being managed and works are being maintained according to the obligations in riparian management agreements'. It also implements Action 9.15 of the VWMS, which states: 'Develop a toolkit of approaches waterway managers can employ for long-term engagement of landholders with riparian management agreements'.
Alignment with agreed engagement framework
The need for CMAs to improve their ongoing engagement with landholders is aligned with principles outlined in the Community engagement and partnerships framework for Victoria's Catchment Management Authorities (Community Engagement and Partnerships Working Group 2012). The framework guidelines require that CMAs 'review our practice and approach to community engagement and partnerships as part of regular monitoring and reporting frameworks'.
The framework principles are:
Alluvium Consulting was commissioned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to produce this toolkit, intended to assist CMAs in their ongoing engagement with landholders with whom they have riparian management agreements. It has been informed by the collective experience of Victoria's CMAs and is designed to be used as part of riparian works programs to help protect public investments on private land.
Previous work on the project (by the Department) included a review of current and previous CMA engagement activities and a survey of landholders to understand preferred approaches (DEPI Waterway Health, 2014). That previous work has informed the development of this toolkit, by highlighting the engagement activities that are already underway and the landholders' perspective on existing engagement programs.
It is important to note that this toolkit is focused on engagement with landholders with whom CMAs have riparian management agreements. It does not concern general community engagement by these agencies or engagement to recruit participants into riparian management programs.
During January 2015 each CMA responded to a questionnaire prepared by Alluvium on the content, format and application of a potential engagement toolkit. The collective results were discussed at a CMA workshop in February 2015, along with an agreed approach forward. Both DELWP and the CMAs were given an opportunity to comment on the draft toolkit, which was then finalised in April 2015.
Engagement drivers and barriers
The Alluvium consultation with CMA staff across Victoria found that the priority reasons they consider ongoing engagement to be important are:
- to provide advice and support to landholders in maintaining riparian works
- to ensure landholder compliance with management obligations
- to support CMA learning on the most effective approaches to riparian management
- the chance to provide validation to landholders for their efforts was also cited by CMAs as a secondary driver for ongoing engagement (Alluvium 2015).
The consultation also revealed CMAs perceptions of the most significant barriers to ongoing engagement, namely:
- resourcing limitations
- concern over raising expectations that may not be met
- sub-optimal back-end systems, and that
- original project staff who set up the CMA-landholder riparian management agreement have moved on.
Where possible, the toolkit provides guidance on how to help manage some of these challenges.
Alluvium 2015. Discussion Paper: Development of a toolkit for CMAs for ongoing engagement with landholders with riparian management agreements. Unpublished paper prepared for DELWP and the Riparian Technical Working Group by Alluvium Consulting, Melbourne.
Community Engagement and Partnerships Working Group 2012. Community engagement and partnerships framework for Victoria's Catchment Management Authorities; Recognising the value of effective engagement and partnerships in achieving the best outcomes for natural resource management. Endorsed by the Victorian Catchment Management Forum.
CSIRO and Wimmera CMA, 2011. Landholder experiences with the Wimmera Funds for Farmers programs: summary results.
DEPI, 2013. Victorian Waterway Management Strategy. Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
DEPI Waterway Health, 2014. Unpublished project report: Catchment management authority ongoing engagement with landholders: results of landholder surveys.
DPI, 2011. Riparian works evaluation project: final report. Fiona Ede of Department of Primary Industries. For DSE River and Wetland Health.
Greg Peters and Ed Thexton, 2010. North Central CMA riparian revegetation assessment. Final report. NCCMA.
North East CMA, 2008. A comparative evaluation of the effectiveness of River Tender.
Page last updated: 19/02/19