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Improving recovery planning within the Lake Toolibin catchment: a study of landholder perceptions

Munro, Jennifer (2004) Improving recovery planning within the Lake Toolibin catchment: a study of landholder perceptions. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The issues associated with natural resource management and biodiversity decline in Australia are predominantly focused on sustainability concerns and in a large part centre on the matter of agricultural sustainability. Recovery planning has emerged as a viable way of enacting biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes. Given that most agricultural land in Australia is privately owned, recovery planning, to be successful, entails a large degree of public participation. The study site, Toolibin Lake recovery catchment, combines high biodiversity values with predominantly privately owned agricultural lands.

Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to determine how recovery planning and associated land and water management activities could be improved within the Toolibin Lake catchment. The study addressed the research question by means of an exploratory case study, based on a mail-out questionnaire (landholder census) and associated personal interviews, review of relevant Toolibin Lake documentation and informal interviews with CALM personnel. Questionnaire results were analysed using descriptive statistics, interview results using qualitative data analysis, involving hand pattern coding. Toolibin documentation and discussions with CALM staff provided contextual background for the above analyses.

The study showed that landholders value Toolibin Lake principally for wildlife habitat and community reasons. Land management priorities for the catchment focus largely on revegetation activities, both presently and proposed, and current adoption rates are very high. CALM subsidies for these revegetation activities play a decisive role in adoption. The foremost constraints to adoption of management actions were in terms of cost and logistics required to undertake works. Consequently, improved financial support provided the greatest incentive for landholders. Most landholders felt that the Toolibin Lake Recovery Plan had been well promoted, serving to raise awareness and demonstrate CALM efficacy. Strengths of the recovery plan were characterised as increasing knowledge, demonstrating government efficiency and providing funding. Weaknesses were identified in stakeholder interaction, bureaucracy, fiscal (financial restrictions) and lack of catchment involvement.

These findings emphasised the need for CALM to:

1. Consider implementation/research into management actions identified as most desirable by landholders;

2. Maintain regular, sustained communication and information with catchment landholders;

3. Foster and support further development of the Toolibin Lake Catchment Group;

4. Investigate possibilities for greater scope and availability of subsidies;

5. Promote the revised Toolibin Lake Recovery Plan;

6. Look into developing multi-farm management agreements within the Toolibin catchment.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Moore, Susan
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