Getting science onto the ground with resource planners

Getting science onto the ground with resource planners

It is often a challenge to make science accessible and useful to regional planners; for both sides of the researcher/research user divide. What are the information needs; how and when do regional groups use the science and in what form, and are research programs meeting planning and delivery needs?

These questions were amongst those discussed at a combined NERP TE Hub/Stream 2 Climate Change workshop run by James Cook University’s Cairns Institute on the 4th of June. The meeting, led by Professor Allan Dale and organised by Gay Crowley, was very well attended by an enthusiastic and engaged group of NRMs and RDA research users, and researchers from across the State. Attendees came from Natural Resource Management bodies, including Cape York, Northern and Southern Gulf, North Queensland Dry Tropics and Terrain. Regional Development Australia was also represented, as was Charles Darwin University, CSIRO, James Cook University and RRRC Ltd, representatives of the NERP TE Hub, the NERP Northern Australia Hub, and Stream 2 Climate Change Wet Tropics and Monsoon North Research Programs.

The day was a culmination of two years of work under NERP TE Hub project CF2, completed at the end of June, and focused on integrating NERP TE Hub science into North Queensland regional planning undertaken by RDA and the NRMs.

Initially Professor Dale addressed the key objective, emphasising the need to develop a clear understanding of NRM plans and how climate change science might feed into them.

The regional bodies then described their planning, governance and engagement processes, underway to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. Although each group's processes were region-specific, many similarities were identified, as were areas where efforts could be aligned.

The potential for research to support regional planning efforts was then identified in six areas: governance and engagement; knowledge synthesis, storage and access systems; scenario development; planning and prioritisation tools; and monitoring and evaluation systems.

Subsequent identification of substantial existing contributions by NERP and Stream 2 research projects was then followed by "breakout" sessions which discussed where these efforts could be strengthened and extended to other initiatives. The key messages here surrounded the need to build communications and keep strengthening relationships between researchers and research users.

One of the major outputs of the project describes the climate change (CC) relevance of the NERP TE Hub projects to North Queensland Natural Resource Management groups from Torres Strait to Mary Burnett and west to include Northern Gulf. These summaries (link below) were discussed at the Workshop, and will be used to identify options for project findings to be incorporated into NRM planning and management.

The Workshop was counted as a success by all attending, and the work continues, to improve the long-term resilience of the landscape, communities and agricultural economies, funded by the Federal Government's Carbon Farming Initiative, and the Biodiversity Fund.

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