Governments spend substantial public funds collaborating with landholders on riparian protection and improvement works such as fencing, revegetation, weed control and off-stream watering. It is well established that landholder commitment to these projects is critical to ensure their on-going management and success, and that continued agency engagement motivates and supports this. However, the extent of agency follow-up can vary widely between regions and data collection regarding long-term maintenance, project outcomes and landholder satisfaction is often ad hoc and noncomprehensive. In short, it can be difficult for regional and state agencies to demonstrate that this high level of government investment has achieved its aims and is secured long-term.
The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is addressing these issues by developing best practice standards for follow-up site inspection and landholder re-engagement. This involves reviewing existing Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) approaches to gather the lessons learnt, ideas for improvement and needs of riparian managers and by working with experts in the collection of landholder social data, riparian project implementation and site condition assessment.
The standards will support CMA staff to re-engage with landholders and project sites to see where improvements can be made at the site, relationship and program levels. They will also ensure consistent data collection, enabling regional and state managers to tell the story of riparian management successes to their communities, potential collaborators and funders.
This paper presents a snapshot of the current Victorian process, a summary of what riparian project managers have learnt from earlier attempts (and want to see in future), and an outline of best practice re-engagement and site assessment for riparian works.