Challenges to Decentralization of Watershed Management: The Case of New South Wales, Australia

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ICFAI University Press


"Decentralization includes different types of policy reforms aiming to shift powers from centralized to more localized institutions. It has gained increasing support, particularly in the realm of natural resources management (NRM). Moving towards more decentralized forms of NRM can, however, involve remarkable institutional challenges. Understanding the factors that can facilitate and/or constrain decentralization is, therefore, critical in overcoming such challenges, as well as (re)designing and implementing more suitable policies. In Australia, catchment management - a watershed management initiative - is an example of moving decision-making for NRM from the State to the catchment (watershed) level. New South Wales (NSW) was the first Australian State to adopt, in the late 1980s, catchment management as a state-wide statutory policy. Catchment management has since undergone a number of institutional changes. Specific legislation, for instance, has been introduced and reformed, such as the Catchment Management Act 1989, the Catchment Management Regulation 1999, and the Catchment Management Authorities Act 2003. Consequently, Catchment Management Committees, which operated in the 1990s were replaced by Catchment Management Boards in 2000, which in turn, have recently been replaced with Catchment Management Authorities. This paper summarizes some of the findings from a broader study on the NSW catchment management initiative (see Fidelman, 2006), and examines decentralized approaches to NRM as part of such a NSW initiative. Building on the Ostrom's institutional rule sets and the recent theorizing on decentralization of NRM, an evaluative framework was developed to examine catchment management in NSW."



decentralization, watersheds, institutional analysis--IAD framework, institutional change