Environmental Governance in Rural Regions: A critical-interpretive perspective on policy implementation in Australia.

Taylor, B. M. (2011). Environmental Governance in Rural Regions: A critical-interpretive perspective on policy implementation in Australia. PhD Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland.

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Author Taylor, B. M.
Thesis Title Environmental Governance in Rural Regions: A critical-interpretive perspective on policy implementation in Australia.
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-11
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Geoffrey Lawrence
Dr Tabatha Wallington
Total pages 239
Total black and white pages 239
Language eng
Subjects 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified
160507 Environment Policy
160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)
Abstract/Summary Regional governance is widely employed in the delivery of sustainable development,natural resource and environmental policies in rural landscapes. Underpinning the implementation of these policies in Australia, and elsewhere, are assumptions of cooperation amongst rural interests, governments, and relatively new regional entities. This cooperation occurs between ‘older’ structures and practices of planning and policy-making, based on hierarchies and sectors, and more recent, decentred, and increasingly networked ones. This thesis argues that understanding social coordination in these settings requires an analytical sensitivity to two particular features. The first – using Forester’s concept of practical social action – is the influence of argument and dialogue in shaping relations between actors in governance. The second feature – using Manuel Castells’ concepts of territorial resistance and collective identity – are the socio-spatial strategies that different actors employ. The study focuses on two cases of nationally significant policy implementation in Australia, over the last decade: the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan), and the extension of the Natural Heritage Trust (the Trust). The first of these programs aims to reduce diffuse water quality pollution from farms adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, and, the second encourages sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation more broadly. Both these policies rely on, in large part, the participation of diverse rural interests and governments through regionalised planning and implementation programs coordinated by non-government regional bodies. This research asks, in relation to these processes: i) what role is the state now adopting in regionalised rural environmental governance; ii) how have rural interests responded to these arrangements; and, iii) how might this response be understood in terms of contests over competing regional identities. The study also considers what these findings imply for the success of current and future models of rural environmental policy delivery. The study adopts a qualitative, interpretive methodology to examine the two policy cases. Through interviews, participant observation and other methods the study engages with the experiences and claims of diverse actors involved in debating and delivering these programs. These participants include officials from Australian and State Government agencies, representatives of regional bodies, farmers and their agripolitical representative organisations and rural local governments. Observations were made in a number of locations across Australia including several regions of the northern tropical savannas, catchments of the Great Barrier Reef, and, the Avon River Basin in the Western Australian Wheatbelt. Key findings are organised around three main themes. The first of these relates to the tendency of the state to occupy dual positions in the governance structure – as participant in the regionalised networks it promotes, and, in its hierarchical guise as orchestrator and regulator of those same governance networks. The second theme relates to the unresolved, but productive, tension between more recent modes of representation – aligned to the spatial-administrative logic of the ‘region’ – and the sectoral and political modes of interest-based representation. Third, the study draws attention to the presence of a distinct, territorial and oppositional strategy employed by local rural actors in response to state-led region-making.
Keyword Rural
Water quality

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Created: Mon, 21 May 2012, 15:44:00 EST by Mr Bruce Taylor on behalf of Library - Information Access Service