Catchment Management Boards To Gain Fresh Perspective, Strength Across The State

February 11, 2000 The Rural News

Chairman of the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Committee, Tom Stacy, has welcomed the New South Wales Government's decision to form 18 new Catchment Management Boards throughout NSW.

"The establishment of the new boards clearly shows that the Government appreciates the work of catchment management committees. It also demonstrates a strong commitment to the community/government partnership approach to natural resource management" Mr Stacy said.

Mr Stacy said the Total Catchment Management (TCM) movement had achieved a great deal over the past decade, and it was good to see that the Government appreciates that work. "The level of community awareness and understanding of natural resource management issues that is now evident could not have been achieved without the dedicated support of catchment management committee members and others involved in TCM," he said.

"The boards provide a fresh approach to the management of natural resources. They provide a way of finding real long term solutions to major problems such as salinity, soil erosion and declining water quality."

The establishment of the boards provides an effective structure to address natural resource management in a holistic way. They strengthen the partnership between the Government and the community, and provide a real opportunity to achieve a balance between social, cultural, environmental and economic objectives.

The decision follows an extensive community consultation process involving peak interest groups, local councils, CMC's and many concerned individuals.

Mr Stacy said he welcomed the Governments willingness to make a decision which may not be easy, but is necessary. "Like everything else, catchment management organisations and methods need to change to meet changing circumstances and new challenges. This decision by the Government reflects the necessary evolution and the growing maturity of the TCM movement. "The changes will give the new hoards greater autonomy, responsibility and accountability."

Mr Stacy added that he saw the proposed greater involvement of local government, primary industry bodies, conservation groups and Aboriginal communities as a positive step to involve the wider community in natural resource management.

'It is encouraging that the boards will establish focused work programs to address priority natural resource issues in the boards' management area, Mr Stacy said. "This gives us a real chance to operate at the strategic level we need to if we are going to make an impact on the big issues.

The first task of the boards will be to identify the major natural resource issues, focus in on specific objectives and targets to be achieved and management options for achieving them.

This work by the boards will then be subject to formal consideration by the Government.

"This process is more formal than the way CMCs have operated, and it encourages me that the Government ~s giving this strength to the new boards."