Ongoing research can help organisations involved in natural resource management (NRM) in the Fitzroy River catchment better collaborate with one another.
Funded by the Northern Australia Hub of the National Environmental Research Program (NERP), researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (James Cook University) have mapped and analysed social networks within the catchment. Rangelands NRM participated in this survey.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Jorge Alvarez-Romero from James Cook University said this can help organisations further their understanding of their collaborative networks and how they exchange information and other resources to improve NRM.
“We surveyed around 40 organisations, including Aboriginal organisations, government agencies, NGOs, industry, and NRM groups, and asked them who they collaborated with in matters relevant to NRM in the region,” Dr Alvarez-Romero said.
Two types of networks were mapped: collaborations along the stages of NRM management (Figure 1) and type of interactions (Figure 2).
Collaborations along the stages of NRM management included (S1) objective-setting, (S2) research, (S3) planning, (S4) implementation, and (S5) monitoring. Type of interactions included exchange of technical (T) and legal (L) advice, data sharing (D), exchange of resources (R), and on-ground support (G).
Dr Alvarez-Romero said they found notable differences between collaboration networks across the five stages.
“The structure of networks (e.g. density and size) and the role (and contribution) of different organisations in each stage (e.g. centrality and power) varied across the five networks; particularly, organisations appear to interact more widely during implementation,” he said.
Regarding interactions, organisations seem to exchange technical advice and information extensively, but less so when it comes to sharing resources and on-ground support.
He said the network for legal advice was less connected.
Differences between networks are reflected in the role of individual organisations (and sectors) within each network.
Dr Alvarez-Romero said the study can help organisations to identify resources and expertise available to them through their networks, as well as opportunities (or constraints) to improve collaboration in the region.
The results can be used to guide future engagement with stakeholders though the identification of major actors and the pathways to different stakeholder groups.
Rangelands NRM Operations Manager John Silver said the project provided a great insight into the dynamics of how regional networks interact with one other.
“We can keep this in mind to best conduct our role as collaborators and connectors in the WA rangelands,” he said.
Figure 1 – Collaborations along the stages of NRM management in the Fitzroy River catchment
Figure 2 – Type of interactions between organisations working in the Fitzroy River catchment