ABSTRACT: In the last decade, watershed groups (WG) established through government initiatives have become an important part of the natural resource management landscape in developed economies. In this paper, the authors reflect upon their research and experience with Landcare in Victoria, and to a lesser extent with Watershed Councils in Oregon, to identify the principles that appear fundamental to sustaining effective WG. In the first instance, these groups must be established at a local scale using social as well as biophysical boundaries. It is also critical that WG are embedded within a supportive institutional framework that identifies realistic roles for private landowners, local organizations such as WG, and regional planning bodies. Without broad stakeholder representation, the perceived benefits of participation are quickly forfeited. It is simply unrealistic to expect an effective network of WG to be sustained without substantial investment by government to provide for program management, group coordination, and cost sharing for on‐ground work. There must also be the commitment and skills within a program to establish processes that build trust and competency amongst citizens and agencies. These principles should also provide a foundation for the critical evaluation of WG programs.
Journal of the American Water Resources Association – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2002
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