Over the last 20 years, the Queensland Government has invested significant resources in natural resource management (NRM) using a regionally-based delivery model, primarily through Queensland’s regional NRM bodies. The decision to move to a regionally-based delivery model was driven by the belief that it would result in more responsive, legitimate and effective governance that would take better account of local circumstance, and that regional groups could provide the much-needed link between the community and government priorities for strategic planning and investment. The overarching goal of this investment has been to achieve regional-scale improvement in landscape condition and natural resource management across Queensland.

Natural Resource Management planning in Queensland has a long and successful history of developing program evaluation frameworks at a range of scales; however often the emphasis of these programs is on collecting data that provides evidence only to support claims against output level achievements and activities. It is not as common to assess how these various outputs and activities have contributed to the delivery of long term desired outcomes, and importantly how they contribute to the delivery of unexpected or unplanned outcomes.

This project specifically sets out to design and implement an evaluation process that would focus on the assessment of landscape scale change towards a number of priority Natural Resource Management (NRM) outcome areas across all fourteen NRM regions in Queensland using a collaborative knowledge synthesis approach.

The primary purpose of the project was to develop and trial a process that would focus on assessing change at the intermediate outcome scale but that also a) incorporates multiple views and knowledge claims by a wide number of stakeholders; b) builds capacity and tactic knowledge of the participants involved in the process; and c) documents potential data sources of evidence to substantiate the claims.

Alluvium work with all 14 NRM regional bodies across Queensland to understand how and to what extent change has occurred as a result of 10 years of NRM investment. To do this we relied on the use of ‘impact pathways’ that describe the logic and assumptions behind investment decisions and how these propose to achieve a range of NRM-related outcomes at a landscape scale.

Eleven outcomes and their associated indicators were identified across the four impact pathways – socio-economic, soil, water and biodiversity. The outcome statements were used to target information collection.  After further discussion these outcomes were also used to establish a baseline or benchmark for which the change in human and environmental landscape as a consequence of NRM program investment since 2003 could be more effectively assessed.  The final suite of indicators used in this project are identified below.