A History of the Natural Resource Management Strategy for the Northern Agricultural Region

The Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) stretches from Two Rocks to Kalbarri, covering approximately 7.5 million hectares of farming and fishing grounds to the north and north east of Perth; the traditional land and coastal waters of the Yamaji People in the north and the Noongar People in the south.

The region is situated within the Southwest Australia global biodiversity hotspot and is home to two national biodiversity hotspots, over 200 conservation reserves, unique and diverse flora and fauna, and around 65,000 people.  There are 15 Local Government Authorities within the region, including the City of Greater Geraldton, and the main land use is broadacre farming.

The NAR has had a regional natural resource management (NRM) strategy in place since 2005. The aim of this strategy is to guide environmental investment in the region, identifying priorities for conserving and enhancing natural assets and advancing sustainable development. It is focused on responding to climate change, conserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable production, and incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into NRM planning.

The 2005 strategy was produced in consultation with land users, technical experts, community groups, and government officials active in the NAR. Developing the strategy involved the NRM community writing management actions and aspirational resource condition targets for biodiversity conservation, land and water management, and community development. More than 1,000 actions were identified, targeting significant NRM opportunities and threats, protecting high value assets, delivering improvements over large areas, and building long-term NRM capacity in the NAR. The NRM community worked together to identify themes relevant to the whole region and set ~65 resource condition targets e.g. Maintain and increase native vegetation extent by 2025.

In 2012, the NRM community in the NAR again participated in a series of planning workshops, this time to identify significant environmental assets in the region. Through this process, using the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) methodology, the community identified 203 places, species, and ecological communities important for NRM in the region. Together, this asset register and the aspirational targets and management actions identified in 2005 form the basis of the current NRM strategy in the NAR.

The strategy was updated in 2013-2015 to include a deeper consideration of the impacts of climate change in the region. During another round of community consultation, the management actions and targets were separated into seven regional aspirations reflecting a landscape-scale approach. The updated strategy was converted into an interactive, GIS-enabled website known as the NARvis and was last comprehensively updated in 2017 with a stronger emphasis on Traditional Owner engagement in NRM compared to previous versions of the strategy. 

NACC NRM is the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships Program service provider for the NAR and the custodian of the regional NRM strategy. Regional NRM planning is one of the core functions of the 54 regional NRM organisations across Australia.

As a requirement of the current Regional Land Partnerships service provider agreement, NACC NRM is currently updating the strategy. This most recent update is focused on ensuring that the regional strategy continues to address emerging threats and opportunities for regional NRM as well as the changing needs and priorities of our diverse NRM community.

Updating NARvis will involve extensive consultation with regional stakeholders including community groups, business and industry, non-government organisations, and all levels of government. Keep an eye out for opportunities to participate in one of the planned in-person and online consultations. A first round of workshops took place in September 2020. Get in touch with NARvis Project Officer Amanda Bourne via email [email protected] or phone 9938 0122 for more information on how you can contribute to updating the strategy.

Amanda Bourne – NARvis Project Officer

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