Effective use of the funds provided to regional organisations for investment in natural resource management (NRM) is a key concern of state and national governments. Public funding from the two major Commonwealth programs—the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) and the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT)—since 2000 totals several billion dollars. In addition, it is estimated that landholders and rural communities contribute time and resources worth several times the government input. The potential public and private gains from improvements to the targeting and effectiveness of these programs are substantial. There has been considerable investment in capacity building under these regionally-based NRM programs, but little or no rigorous analysis of the institutional arrangements put in place for these programs, including arrangements for support of capacity-building activities. To deal with this problem, this CVCB-funded project explored the capacity of regional catchment organisations, along with regional agencies and groups, to develop and implement regional catchment strategies. In the report we identify in detail a number of capacity gaps, discuss their implications, and identify needed actions by government and catchment management organisations (CMOs) themselves.
The report is primarily targeted at policy makers at the national, state and regional levels with interest in better targeted and more effective NRM investments, and is also relevant for people working in government and non-government agencies implementing on-ground works to respond to desired NRM outcomes.