Connecting Research and Practice Workshop 26–28th April 2010
Reflections on 10 Years of Integrated Catchment Management Research
Andrew Fenemor, Programme Leader
At the Connecting Research and Practice Workshop the team from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) programme celebrated 10 years of FRST-funded research. Researchers from Landcare Research and Cawthron coordinated the 3-day public workshop that attracted over 135 participants including the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
Guest Dr Gene Likens, founder of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study 47 years ago, and discoverer of acid rain, saw New Zealand as a world leader with integrative research like this. But as one of the original designers of the Motueka ICM project, he thinks 10 years just isn’t long enough to understand how things work.
The amount of interest in the workshop was way beyond expectations, but feedback shows that ICM is seen as a fundamental approach for resolving the high profile land and water issues facing New Zealand. The audience evaluations suggest they took away many pointers on what makes a successful ICM approach.
The inter-disciplinary research team, which includes Landcare Research, Cawthron, Tasman District Council, NIWA, GNS, Scion, iwi, Landcare Trust and social science researchers, sees ICM as based on three integrative principles -
- Resource management that considers land as being connected with water and with the coast (geographical integration)
- An adaptive management process driven by the big issues in a catchment
- A way of operating that links biophysical knowledge (our traditional science) with engagement processes (what we’ve loosely termed community resilience).
We’ve found that by researching together in this way, the outcomes and spin-offs from different disciplines working together are multiplied. ICM water quality and riparian research with farmers in the Sherry River catchment, for example, has led to a 50% improvement in water quality. It also led to stock-crossing recommendations in the Clean Streams Accord but, just as importantly, motivated the community in that catchment to commit voluntarily to ongoing changes in land management via Landowner Environmental Plans to achieve an 80% improvement and make their river swimmable.
What are the big ICM 'take-home' research findings?
Here are a few that we discussed at Café Scientifique
- ICM is about whole community engagment with the science of land-water management, so the community almost instinctively sees themselves within a wider environment rather than just seeing their own property or sector
- ‘Catchments’ extend offshore (in the case of the Motueka about 400km2); increased interest in coastal values and aquaculture demands conjunctive management of catchments and coastal zones
- Long-term sediment yields from agriculture are often larger than from forestry
- Long duration floods in spring were the main cause of the 1990s 70% decline in Motueka trout numbers
- Building iwi capacity and respect for kaitiakitanga principles can do wonders for collaborative catchment management
Day 1: Mobilising-Moderating-Motivating: Engaging People in Collaborative Environmental Management
Forum exploring what lies at the heart of integrated catchment management – working with multiple interests and bringing together diverse knowledge including innovative ways to build collective capacity for effective environmental management.
Day 2: The Legacy of ICM Science from the Motueka catchment
Summarising and discussing what we have learned about catchment science, how it has enlisted greater community and stakeholder involvement, and how it can enhance management opportunities, including for other regions. Presentations of ICM research findings from Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, NIWA, GNS Science, Scion and others.
With US guest panelist Dr Gene Likens, Director Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (CIES), New York and currently a visiting Fellow at the Australian National University developing a long-term ecological monitoring network for Australia, discoverer of acid rain and pioneer of the Hubbard Brook experimental catchments.
Fieldtrip: Ridgetops to the Sea
A practically oriented field trip from the upper Motueka to the sea, to discuss the relevance of a ridgetops-to-the-sea perspective in studying catchment behaviour, the legacy that large events or intensive land use in the headwaters have on downstream catchment behaviour over time (e.g. sediment and faecal contaminants) and how a community ICM process has worked in the Motueka catchment (using the Sherry example) and the benefits of interaction between science, resource management and land owners.
Download Field Guide