7 Connecting the champions of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers 91 this approach is underway in the Coongie Lakes region in South Australia, using funding from the International Riverprize. Most importantly, the Strategic Adaptive Management approach engages stakeholders in management and the environmental indicators relevant to management, linked to an overarching vision. This provides the template for exploring trends in indicators and the potential need for management intervention, followed by assessment of management success. This critical framework began through the development of visions by different organisations within the community (e.g. catchment management committees and regional natural resource management bodies). The Community Advisory Panel and Scientific Advisory Panel then integrated these visions to develop a working vision for the entire Lake Eyre Basin, reflected in coarse-scale objectives (Fig. 7.7). The progressive implementation of Strategic Adaptive Management will be far reaching, linking visions and objectives to actual monitoring and management. It provides the opportunity for governments and communities to improve the value of their investments in the management and monitoring of Lake Eyre Basin rivers, and to report the outcome of management actions. The vision (Fig. 7.7) formally recognises the uniqueness of the Lake Eyre Basin and its values. It specifies the free-flowing status of this natural desert river system. The social, economic and environmental dimensions are captured, recognising the industries and communities so important in sustaining a large and complex socio-ecological system. It also specifies what is critically important Lake Eyre Basin rivers need to remain healthy. Industries need to respect this by ensuring they are sustainable. There is an increasing need to also understand the importance of ecosystem services delivered from natural cycles of the river system to the economy and to the social and cultural aspects of people’s livelihoods. Equally important is a clear understanding of the potential costs of water resource developments on this unique environment and its people (see Chapter 18). And our communities need to maintain their vibrancy and ability to engage and interact in this harsh climate. The incredible natural variability of the Lake Eyre Basin and its rivers imposes adaptation on all pursuits, people and industries. ‘Adaptive cultures’ describes not only the willingness of the people of the Lake Eyre Basin to embrace change, but also the importance of effective partnerships and communication, and a commitment to adaptive management, where knowledge is underpinned by clear objectives and the best science. Conclusion The story so far for the Lake Eyre Basin rivers and their communities is one of these communities driving the future. There have been challenges and failures, but the partnerships in the Lake Eyre Basin generally remain committed to the sustainability of the rivers. ‘Prevention is better than a cure’, in relation to the impact of water resource development, has been a strong and consistent theme of the last three decades of Lake Eyre Basin community partnerships. Communities and their governments continue to articulate the importance of protecting the natural flows of rivers in the Lake Eyre Basin. Echoed in the Intergovernmental Agreement, this goal is reflected in relevant water plans and environmental protection measures from the Basin to the local scale, including in the Cooper Creek Water Resource
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