This section provides further background on the RCS development (design and principles).
This section will be updated with progress reports, case studies and discoveries throughout the life of the RCS.
RCS design criteria
The best way to determine which strategic directions will enable us to create the resilient future we want is to apply both the resilience principles and to apply design criteria to identify strategic directions.
Design criteria used in the development and prioritisation of outcomes and priority directions for the RCS include:
- Alignment with Government policy and targets at the national, state and local government level
- Alignment with community priorities
- Embedding Traditional Owners/First Nations Peoples’ management of Country
- Alignment with important attributes and community values
- Addressing thresholds and trends
- Addressing challenges and opportunities through managing trade-offs and dealing with conflicting interests
- Alignment with existing cost-benefit analysis for biodiversity priorities, such as DELWP’s Strategic Management Prospects and INFER analysis available in the region.
Each of the outcomes and priority directions was tested and refined with key stakeholders during this process, which included the Project Steering Committee and staff, Traditional Owners/First Nations Peoples representatives, Landcare representatives and the North East CMA Board. Participation is further described in the next section.
Resilience design principles
The best way to respond to an uncertain future and complex change is to build resilience. Resilience design principles provide a foundation to build resilience by describing the characteristics of a resilient system. In developing this RCS they have been applied to assist in identifying outcomes and identifying and prioritising strategic directions.
Adopt a complexity perspective
This principle focuses on understanding the complex interactions and dynamics between people, place and operating environment, accepting humans depend on ecosystems and that how the social, economic and environmental systems interact is complex.
Being able to plan and work within this complexity builds resilience in managing natural resources in north east Victoria.
Develop a change focus in the institutions, governance and leadership
A resilient system has leaders and institutions that can understand system change, prepare adequately and learn from the past. They can accommodate and adopt new ways of working, and support decision making at multiple scales. Resilient institutions, communities and their leaders of north east Victoria make decisions quickly in times of uncertainty and learn from them.
Build participation and support self-organisation and local responsibility
No one organisation or group can fully understand the system or build resilience on their own.
This principle recognises that self-organising, local decision making and cohesion are important to prepare north east Victoria for and recover from shocks and changes to the natural resource base.
In times of change and shocks, some communities have the capacity to come together and others will wait for support and help. An observed increase in shock and stresses in recent times means there is a need for communities to come together and to build skills and capacity to self-organise and respond.
Design for flexibility
Designing for flexibility enables deliberate adaptation and transformation. It avoids rigid systems and approaches that can be prone to failure, will not address current sustainability challenges and/or, will not meet changing demands and aspirations of communities for their local landscapes.
Having the ability to be flexible and building flexibility into decision-making is a fundamental to a resilient RCS.
Manage connectivity and networks within and between systems
This acknowledges the importance of connectivity and the flow of essential important attributes such as knowledge, flora, fauna and water within and between systems.
This is addressed at the thematic scale in the RCS. For example, river systems need to be connected to enable the passage of fish and connectivity between vegetation and habitat is important. Both social and economic system require connectivity to access essential services such as communications. This needs to be balanced with the risk of undesirable contagions to move rapidly through the system such as a pest species and most topical – the spread of COVID-19.
This principle also captures the concept of social networks and how important attributes move through a community, fundamental to volunteering and stewardship of natural resources in the region.
Value, retain and build diversity, redundancy and recovery capacities
This principle strives to ensure there is a diversity of options so that Traditional Owners/First Nations Peoples, public agencies, landholders, communities in north east Victoria can and do respond to the changes and shocks that inevitably occur.
Some future shocks are known/anticipated, whereas others may not be. For example, the intensifying impacts of climate change on land and agricultural systems is well researched and there are many programs aiming to understand the impacts and build farmers and the communities’ resilience to anticipate, prepare and respond to climate change. An example of an unanticipated shock is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus on slow variables, leverage and tipping points
This principle focuses on understanding feedback mechanisms in systems and orientating towards the most influential dynamics/causes of stress in north east Victoria’s systems.
The ability to adjust and reorganise is linked to feedback mechanisms and thresholds. Systems have thresholds below which, they will continue to function in a certain way and beyond which, other feedback loops kick in and the system will function differently.
There are two dynamics that change systems over time that are considered in the RCS:
- Slow changing variables, these are prime movers in systems. They play an important role in shaping and placing stress on our region’s natural resources. They may not lead to a major change in the system. However, they reduce the resilience of a system to absorb a shock or change. An example of a slow-moving variable is climate change
- Faster moving dynamics include tipping points. A tipping point is a boundary where a small change can quickly push to a new system.
These dynamics interact with each other. For example, in a shallow lake system, slow-changing variables such as climate, nutrients and rooted plant coverage can change slowly over time. Beyond a certain level of threshold, a tipping point is reached, and the lake can move quickly into a new system e.g. a lake that has recurring algal bloom.
This is an important principle as it assists in navigating complexity and prioritising what to focus on. In general, there are usually four or five key variables that are changing that should be focused on in any system.
This principle focuses on ensuring we learn from what we have done in managing natural resources in north east Victoria. This involves using monitoring and evaluation to identify lessons and the changes needed to increase resilience. Learning requires partnerships, research and mechanisms to collect, synthesise and share learning. It often embraces the concept of triple loop learning. This adds another level of questioning and exploring:
- Were objectives correct?
- How did we do?
- Are there other ways or forms of knowledge that could be brought to the table?
Some of the common terms you will see in this paper include:
- Adaptation – the action or process of adjusting to actual or expected change and its effects. Adaptation can either be incremental or in large shifts, transformational
- Agency – the capacity of individuals and groups to act independently and to make their own free choices
- Aquifer – is a body of rock and/or sediment that holds groundwater
- Biodiverse – having many different native plants and animals within a habitat or area
- Built form – the function, shape and placement of buildings within a designated area as well as their relationship to streets and open spaces
- Catchment – An area where water is collected by the natural landscape. When it rains the water flows over the landscape, seeping into soil, down streams and into rivers. In this way people, soil, water, plants and animals are all linked together within a catchment
- Condition – refers to the quality of the environment and the functioning of important environmental processes. Indicators provide a summary measure of the changes and/or trends in the environment
- Country – Country includes all of the sentient and non-sentient parts of the world and the interactions between them, according to Aboriginal lore. Indigenous lore and life originates in and is governed by Country. Country must be respected. In a western conservation context, this is more aligned to a systems and resilience approach to thinking and to an active, adaptive management approach to practice
- Directly Connected Imperviousness (DCI) – the proportion of the impervious surface of a catchment that is directly connected to a stream through a conventional drainage connection. DCI can be used to assess the scale of the stormwater management problem in a catchment
- Drivers of change – these are the external forces influencing how the region operates and thereby shaping the trajectory of the region. Drivers of change occur and connect at multiple spatial scales (local, catchment, regional, national and global). Climate change is an example that affects the north east catchment across multiple scales and parts of the region
- Ecosystem services – the benefits of ecosystem processes. These include provisioning services, such as food and water, regulating services, such as air purification and flood control, and cultural services, such as spiritual values in nature and opportunities for recreation
- Floodplain – Floodplains are areas of land that are inundated with water when the flow in a waterway (river, stream or creek) exceeds the capacity of the main channel (i.e. flood events). Flood flows are distributed over a broad, relatively flat area often inclusive of wetlands and flood channels
- Iconic species – Iconic species are socially, culturally, and economically significant and valued by the community. The species may be indicative of a habitat, region, assemblage, or ecological community and is typically adopted to represent and benefit the conservation of other species. Agencies often highlight iconic species as ambassadors to promote and support regional/habitat/ecological community-based programs. Often interchangeable with flagship species
- Keystone species – Keystone species have a disproportional ecological influence on ecological dynamics, function and structure of ecosystems. The presence of a keystone species is considered critical to maintaining ecosystems, and their loss is likely to result in permanent ecosystem change. Similarly, cultural keystone species have exceptional significance in social systems and are integral to community identity and culture.
- Landscape(s) – In this document ‘landscapes’ is used to describe an area of land and the connection between people and that place
- Land use planning – Land use planning is essentially about the decisions that change the environment and affect everyday life. Under Victoria’s planning system, local councils and the State Government develop planning schemes to control land use and development and to ensure the protection and conservation of land in Victoria in the present and long-term interests of all Victorians
- NRM – stands for natural resource management which is the management of natural resources such as land, water, flora and fauna. In a resilience-based approach to NRM, people are part of the environment, not apart from it
- North east catchment – the boundary of the North East CMA
- North east Victoria – for the purposes of this paper this is the boundary of the North East CMA
- Outcomes – Outcomes articulate what success looks like and reflects our ambition for Victoria and the North East CMA boundary (north east Victoria).
- Persistence –capacity to stay the same in the face of changes. Persistence means that values, purpose and management are maintained
- Protected areas – a protected area is defined as “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”
- Resilience – the ability of north east Victoria’s people and environment to cope with change while continuing to function in a desired way
- System – a set of things working together, as parts of an interconnecting network. In this document ‘a system’ is referring to socio-ecological systems, which are interconnected systems of people and nature. These occur at a range of connected scales, e.g., local landscapes, to catchment to regional scale
- Thresholds – points where below which systems will continue to function in current way and beyond which the system will function differentl
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) – There are many different of Traditional/First Nations/Indigenous knowledge and definitions. For example, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, and the term Indigenous Biocultural Knowledge is now being applied. In this document the term Traditional Ecological Knowledge has been applied. It distills, a complex cultural system and five distinct conceptual categories of: law, skin, ceremony, language, and Country
- Traditional Owners/First Nations Peoples – The meaning of ‘Traditional Owner’ varies significantly, depending on the context and preferences. The different preferences for terminology is acknowledged. Traditional Owner/First Nations Peoples is used throughout the RCS to include Traditional Owners, First Nations Traditional Owners, Alpine First Nations Traditional Owner Groups and Traditional Ancestral Bloodline Original Owners (TABOO)
- Transformation – fundamental shifts in response to changes that create a new state. Transformation can be either intentional or unintentional, where values, purpose and management changes
- Two-way learning – is where Traditional Owners/First Nations Peoples, community, natural resource managers work collaboratively to teach one another about traditional knowledge and contemporary conservation and natural resource management knowledge
Glossary and abbreviations
Material eroded, transported and deposited by wind.
Material deposited by, or in transit in, flowing water.
Bioregional Conservation Status
The combination of Ecological Vegetation Community (EVC) and bioregion is used to determine the bioregional conservation status (BCS) of an EVC. This is a measure of the current extent and quality for each EVC, when compared to its original (pre-1750) extent and condition. On this basis a BioEVC will have a BCS of endangered, vulnerable, depleted, least concern or rare.
Bioregions are large, geographically distinct areas of land with common characteristics, such as geology, landform patterns, climate, ecological features and plant and animal communities.
Capacity building is a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations from realising their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results.
Carbon sequestration is the process of removal and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as forests, woody plants, mangroves or soils).
Co-design is about challenging the imbalance of power held within groups of individuals, who make important decisions about others’ lives, livelihoods and bodies. Often, with little to no involvement of the people who will be most impacted by those decisions. Co-design seeks to change that through building new relationships, capability and capacity for boundless curiosity. It uses inclusive convening to share knowledge and power.
To consult the community, increase awareness and promote the involvement of community members in a particular event, activity or project.
Country includes the land, water and all living things.
A key strategic planning document that sets direction for and assist in the delivery of cultural outcomes including Caring for Country and other Traditional Owner aspirations.
Cultural landscapes are a traditional way of understanding and managing Country, ‘the planning unit of choice.’
Cultural flows are water entitlements that are legally and beneficially owned by the Nations of a sufficient and adequate quantity and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural, natural, environmental, social and economic conditions of those Nations. These are our inherent rights.
– MLDRIN Echuca Declaration, 2007
Soils in which there is a sharp change in soil texture between the A and B horizons. The soil profile is dominated by the mineral fraction with a texture contrast of 1.5 soil texture groups or greater between the A and B horizons. Horizon boundaries are clear to sharp.
Eutrophication is the ecosystem response to the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertiliser or sewage, to an aquatic system.
NatureKit is a free online mapping and data exploration tool for biodiversity data integration and decision support. For example, NatureKit currently displays NaturePrint and Strategic Management Prospects (SMP) datasets.
NaturePrint is a suite of decision-support products and tools (including Strategic Biodiversity Values [SBV] and Strategic Management Prospects [SMP]) developed by DELWP and designed to help make choices about what actions to take, and in which places, to protect Victoria’s environment and plan for the future.
Reading Country is a bridging tool that expresses a respectful integration of Indigenous oral cultural practices of knowledge protection and transfer (e.g. dreaming stories) and Western applied research. Reading Country involves seeking the areas of change between different elements and systems of Country. It has two main components; firstly, cultural values are identified and recorded. These values may be cultural heritage, intangible heritage -as song, dance, stories, places – and living bio-cultural values – such as culturally significant plants and animals. These values are examined through narrative and yarning with Elders, mentors, peers or knowledge keepers. The second component is interaction (data analysis, interpretation and sharing as knowledge) that then manifests as priorities and actions required to heal and maintain health of Country.
Reading Country embeds data sovereignty and includes developing other knowledge protection mechanisms (cultural governance) to ensure that the ongoing protection of Traditional Owner knowledge and practice is undertaken is culturally appropriate and Indigenous led.
Water beneath the surface held in or moving through saturated layers of soil, sediment or rock.
A sediment or sedimentary rock which shows evidence of metamorphism.
The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. The most recent Ice Age occurred then, as glaciers covered huge parts of Earth. It was followed by the current stage, called the Holocene Epoch.
The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene (2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago) and the Holocene (11,.000 thousand years ago to today).
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance holds the unique distinction of being the first modern treaty between nations aimed at conserving natural resources. The signing of the Convention on Wetlands took place in 1971 at the small Iranian town of Ramsar. Since then, the Convention on Wetlands has been known as the Ramsar Convention.
The Ramsar Convention’s broad aims are to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain. This requires international cooperation, policy making, capacity building and technology transfer.
Regional Landcare Plan
A Plan that recognises the issues faced by Landcare groups and volunteers undertaking NRM activities and provides a framework for a Support Plan that supports their needs.
A type of soil that contains sufficient exchangeable sodium to adversely affect soil stability, plant growth and/or land use.
Sodosols have a sodic subsoil and strong texture contrast between the A and B horizons. Widespread throughout the north central region they frequently occur on the older alluvial plains in the north and on the sedimentary hills.
Strategic Biodiversity Values
Strategic Biodiversity Values (SBV) is a decision-support tool that combines information on areas important for threatened flora and fauna, and vegetation types and condition to provide a view of relative biodiversity importance of all parts of the Victorian landscape. This integrated information is important because decision-makers need access to an objective, comprehensive and spatially explicit view of the rank of biodiversity assets to enable comparison of locations across Victoria.
Strategic Management Prospects
Strategic Management Prospects (SMP) is a decision support tool designed to help biodiversity managers consider and compare which actions to do where. To deliver the Biodiversity Plan’s goals and targets and to try to prevent more species from becoming threatened, we need our management efforts to achieve the most benefits for the most species. To achieve the most positive change for biodiversity, it is important to choose activities based on the greatest benefit to the most species at the least cost.
A type of soil in which there is a high content of expansive clay known as montmorillonite that forms deep cracks in drier seasons or years.
AAPs Adaptation Action Plans
AWAs Aboriginal Waterways Assessments
BGLC Barenji Gadjin Land Council
BRP Biodiversity Response Planning
CaLP Act Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994
CAP Conservation Action Plans
CAPAD Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database
CAR Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (reserve system)
CFA Country Fire Authority
CMA Catchment Management Authority
CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
DELWP Department of Environment Land Water and Planning
EPBC Act Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
FFG Act Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
GMA Groundwater Management Area
GMID Goulburn Murray Irrigation District
IAP2 The International Association for Public Participation (framework)
ICM Integrated Catchment Management
IWM Integrated Water Management
JMP Joint Management Plan
LCIR Loddon Campaspe Irrigation Region
LWMP Land and Water Management Plan
MDBA Murray Darling Basin Association
MERI the Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Framework
ML Megalitre (one million litres)
MLDREN Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations
MNES Matter of national environmental significance
MoU Memorandum of Understanding
NGO Non-government agencies
NRM Natural Resource Management
PICCC Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre
RAP Registered Aboriginal Party
RCS Regional Catchment Strategy
RDV Regional Development Victoria
REZ Renewable Energy Zones
RLP Regional Land Partnerships
SBV Strategic Biodiversity Value
SDG (UN) Sustainable Development Goals
SES State Emergency Service
SEPP State Environment Protection Policy
SMART Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound
SMP Strategic Management Prospects
TLAWC Taungurung Land and Waters Council
TOS Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010
VAAF Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework
VBA Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
VCCI Victorian centre for Climate Change Innovation
VEWH Victorian Environmental Water Holder
VicWaCI Victorian Water and Climate Innovation
WSPA Water Supply Protection Area
WSUD Water Sensitive Urban Design