NESP Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub’s project on multiple objective planning in northern Australia is guiding participatory scenario planning to construct and assess the outcomes of alternative development scenarios in the Fitzroy catchment, WA. The project’s planning team will meet three times to discuss possible development pathways for the Fitzroy catchment and their consequences.

On July 10-11, NESP researchers led the first workshop, gathering 40 people from 26 organisations across all main stakeholder groups, including the federal Department of the Environment and Energy, WA agencies, local governments, mining, agriculture and tourism organisations, environmental NGOs, Rangelands NRM, Kimberley Land Council, and Prescribed Bodies Corporate representing the interests of Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Nyikina-Mangala, Yi-Martuwarra and Yungngora peoples (Figure 1). During the workshop, the team discussed the meaning of development, driving forces of land use change, and the diverse development initiatives proposed for the catchment.

Figure 1. Scenario planning team comprising Fitzroy River stakeholders and NESP researchers. The workshop involved a series of activities to help team members get to know each other, strengthen relationships, and build trust – all critical elements of the participatory scenario planning approach. Jorge Álvarez-Romero and Milena Kim, NESP-NAERH researchers and members of The Conservation Planning Group, coordinated the workshop. Photo by Karen Dayman ©

An important goal of the initial workshop was to create shared understandings of what is happening in the region that could shape the future development of the catchment. This included a discussion about the diverse views on development. Before exploring the future, the group looked back into the past. They created a timeline for the Fitzroy, identifying the events and forces that have shaped how the catchment looks today (Figure 2) and could drive development in the future.

Figure 2. Looking back to look forward – a timeline of the Fitzroy catchment. Events included the Camballin Irrigation Scheme, sealing the Great Northern Highway and proclamation of the Native Title Act that recognizes the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs; today, the combined determined Native Title areas cover most of the catchment. Photo by Karen Dayman ©

Finally, the group started exploring the main development initiatives (e.g. irrigated agriculture, tourism, mining, carbon farming) that could happen in the catchment. Through improving the understanding of the driving forces and development initiatives likely to influence land use change, including the factors constraining or promoting those initiatives, the group will develop the scenarios during the second workshop to be held in November 2018.

For more information, contact Jorge and visit the project’s website

This work is jointly funded through James Cook University and the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP).

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