Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Negotiating the turbulent boundary: the challenges of building a science–management collaboration for landscape-scale monitoring of environmental flows

J. Angus Webb A F , Michael J. Stewardson B , Yung En Chee C , E. Sabine G. Schreiber D , Andrew K. Sharpe E and Michael C. Jensz D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Resource Management and Geography and the eWater CRC, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

B Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the eWater CRC, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

C School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

D Department of Sustainability and Environment, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.

E Sinclair Knight Merz, Armadale, Vic. 3143, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: angus.webb@unimelb.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(7) 798-807 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF09059
Submitted: 17 March 2009  Accepted: 29 December 2009   Published: 23 July 2010

Abstract

With drought and climate change leading to increased water scarcity at a time of increasing consumptive demand, the provision of environmental flows is a potentially divisive issue. Demonstrating the ecological effects of environmental flows is thus important for supporting policy and management decisions. We describe the development of a multi-basin monitoring and assessment program for environmental flows in Victoria, Australia. We examine the challenges associated with negotiating the turbulent boundary between water science and water management when building a partnership between multiple partners with differing priorities, expectations and responsibilities. We describe the mistakes made and corrective actions taken, and present a critical analysis of the lessons learned. Strong science–management collaboration will be aided by: explicit recognition of the importance of the engagement process, establishing the partnership at the outset, assessing and understanding the disparate needs of individual partners, frequent articulation of the shared vision that motivated the collaboration, and providing sufficient opportunities for information exchange among partners. Cullen first described the challenges to science-management collaboration twenty years ago, but to some extent, the same mistakes continue to be made. Our real-world example shows that it is possible to develop a strong partnership, even when such mistakes are made at the outset.

Additional keywords: adaptive management, Bayesian hierarchical modelling, capacity building, conceptual model, environmental water reserve, evidence-based modelling, VEFMAP.


Acknowledgements

VEFMAP could never have got off the ground without the strategic leadership of Jane Doolan and Paul Bennett from DSE. Peter Cottingham also played an integral role in the early stages of the program. We thank the scientific panel (Gerry Quinn, Angela Arthington, Mark Kennard, Barbara Downes, Alison King, Wayne Tennant) and other experts (Leon Metzeling, Terry Hillman, Jane Roberts, Paul Boon, Geoff Earl) for their careful oversight; and the EWR officers, without whom VEFMAP would just be a plan. VEFMAP is funded through a variety of channels, including DSE (Our Water Our Future), the CMAs and the eWater CRC. Y.E.C. was also supported by ARC Linkage grant LP0667891. Finally, we thank Moya Tomlinson, Darren Ryder, Andrew Boulton and an anonymous reviewer for their careful review of this manuscript, and Beth Wallis for producing Fig. 4.


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