An ongoing study by researchers of the Conservation Planning Group can help organisations involved in natural resource management (NRM) in the Fitzroy River catchment to better understand how they collaborate with one another.

Funded by the Northern Australia Hub of the National Environmental Research Program (NERP), researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (James Cook University) have mapped and analysed collaboration networks of organisations working in the Fitzroy catchment. This project aims to help organisations further their understanding of their collaborative networks and how they exchange information and other resources to improve NRM.

Researchers surveyed over 40 organisations, including Aboriginal organisations, government agencies, NGOs, industry, and NRM groups, and asked them who they collaborated with in matters relevant to NRM in the region. Two types of networks were mapped: collaborations along the stages of NRM planning and type of interactions.

Researchers found notable differences between collaboration networks across the five stages of planning (Fig 1). The structure of networks (e.g. density and size) and the role (and contribution) of different organisations in each stage (e.g. centrality and power) varied across the five networks; particularly, organisations appear to interact more widely during implementation.

Fig 1. Collaborations along different stages of NRM: In the diagrams below each coloured dot is an individual organisation and the linking lines represent collaborations between organisations. Each of the five diagrams shows collaborations during a different stage of the NRM process: (S1) objective-setting, (S2) research, (S3) planning, (S4) implementation, and (S5) monitoring.


Regarding interactions, organisations seem to exchange technical advice and information extensively, but less so when it comes to sharing resources and on-ground support (Fig 2). The network for legal advice was also less connected. Differences between networks are reflected in the role of individual organisations (and sectors) within each network.

Fig 2. Type of interactions between organisations: In this figure, the linking lines represent exchange of technical (T) and legal (L) advice, data sharing (D), exchange of resources (R), and on-ground support (G). Black lines indicate that linked organisations provide and receive (e.g. advice), while grey lines represent unidirectional interactions (one provides and the other receives).


The study can help organisations to identify resources and expertise available to them through their networks, as well as opportunities (or constraints) to improve collaboration in the region. The results can also be useful to guide future engagement with stakeholders though the identification of major actors and the pathways to different stakeholder groups.

For more information contact Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero


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