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New paradigms to find solutions to intractable NRM problems

Hobbs, R.J. and Allison, H.E. (2008) New paradigms to find solutions to intractable NRM problems. Land & Water Australia, Canberra.

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This final report presents the results of the project conducted from 1 July 2005 to 3 July 2008. The project consisted of three phases: firstly, the investigation of personality types of people involved with natural resource management and policy across Australia with a focus on Western Australia; secondly, the development of a system dynamics model of the Western Australian wheat belt at the regional scale to demonstrate the nature of linked social-ecological systems within a resilience paradigm or framework; and thirdly, the knowledge and adoption phase of the model and concepts of resilience paradigm.

At the beginning of this project in July 2005 the concepts of complex problems and resilience were not in common usage and it was a bold step for Land & Water Australia to support this innovative project at that time. These approaches are now validated by bursts of activity over the past three years in which it has become widely acknowledged that many of our most pressing problems have the characteristics of complex problems and require quite different processes to understand and manage them. For example, the Australian Public Policy Commission acknowledges that the public service has to deal with complex problems and developing ways of dealing with them is an evolving process (Commonwealth of Australia 2007). Similarly it has been recognised that, in order for agriculture to respond to climate change, more systemic changes in resource allocation will be required (Howden, Soussana et al. 2007). Internationally the number of papers in the scientific literature related to complex problems and the paradigm of resilience has risen from approximately 50 per year in 2000 to about 250 per year in 2007 (Janssen 2007). The Resilience Alliance ( has been instrumental in promoting this approach and a new institute, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, was established in May 2007 to advance the understanding of complex social-ecological systems and to generate new insights and means for governance and management of ecosystem services for long-term sustainability.

Item Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Series Name: Project number: UMU25
Publisher: Land & Water Australia
Copyright: Land & Water Australia © July 2008
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