Frameworks under the NAP and NHT programs

The frameworks described below (Standards and Targets Framework and the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework) come under National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) and the National Landcare Program (NHT) programs. Details of these can be found on the Australian Government’s NRM website.

Standards and Targets Framework

This National Framework establishes the principles and requirements for natural resource management standards and targets, to guide investment through national resource management programs. Investment through integrated regional natural resource management (NRM) plans that have been prepared under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the Natural Heritage Trust is of particular interest. The framework sets out consistent national directions and approaches to natural resource planning, target-setting, action and performance measures at all levels.

National natural resource outcomes

The statements of desired national natural resource outcomes are listed in the table below. These statements include the objectives of both the National Action Plan and the National Heritage Trust programs. The national outcomes are aspirational statements about desired national natural resource outcomes. They are expressed in a manner that allows an assessment of progress towards those outcomes to be made. The national outcomes are largely focussed on resource condition, but also include the objective of changing land and water management systems and practices. Such change will be integral to the achievement of improvements in resource condition. The national outcomes provide direction for catchment/regional communities to identify specific time-bound and measurable targets for each region, which will move natural resource condition towards the achievement of national outcomes.

Regional targets

The standards and targets framework specifies the minimum set of matters for which all catchments/regions must have regional targets (see table ). The framework does not specify the level for the targets in any region. Actual target levels are being determined according to each region’s circumstances. Targets are being set by regional bodies as a core element of integrated regional NRM plans. The plans, and the targets they contain, are considered by the Commonwealth and States/Territories as part of the accreditation process prior to investment by governments in those plans. Targets may relate to absolute improvement in resource condition or decreases in the rate of degradation. They may be expressed as numbers or percentage changes.

Targets can be characterised as:

Asprirational targets

These are long-term ‘targets’ which are aspirational statements about the desired condition of their natural resources in the longer term (e.g. 50+ years).

Achievable resource condition targets.

These are medium-term (10-20 years) targets, relating largely to the condition of resources listed in the minimum set of matters for regional targets (set out in the table below). These targets must be pragmatic and achievable.

Management action targets

These are short-term targets (1-5) years, relating mainly to management actions or capacity-building. These targets must contribute to progress towards the longer-term resource condition targets.

In setting these targets, regions are taking account of national indicators, and associated guidelines and protocols for measuring and reporting, as set out in the National Framework for NRM Monitoring and Evaluation, so that they are using consistent approaches, where these have been identified.

In many cases, a reasonable period of monitoring will be required to establish baselines or trends. Hence, many regions are not in a position to set specific achievable targets for natural resource condition at the time their regional plans are put forward for accreditation. To address this situation, for accreditation, a regional plan needs to contain:

  1. Management action targets, which will result in progress towards the minimum set of matters identified for regional targets;
  2. Resouce condition targets consistent with the National Framework for NRM Standards and Targets, where they can be set;
  3. Resource condition targets which have been agreed by relevant jurisdictions;
  4. Commitment to the early establishment of monitoring systems to collect/analyse baseline and trend information, to enable setting of resource condition targets against the minimum set of matters;
  5. Proposals and a timetable for setting targets; and
  6. A commitment to have in place, within three years of signing the relevant Bilateral Agreement(s), the minimum set of regional resouce condition targets, or have demonstrated significant progress towards their establishment (including performance against dot points 4 and 5 above).
National outcomes Matters for which regional targets must be set
  1. The impact of salinity on land and water resources is minimised, avoided or reduced
  2. Biodiversity and the extent, diversity and condition of native ecosystems are maintained or rehabilitated
  3. Populations of significant species and ecological communities are maintained or rehabilitated.
  4. Ecosystem services and functions are maintained or rehabilitated.
  5. Surface and groundwater quality is maintained or enhanced.
  6. The impact of threatening processes on locations and systems which are critical for conservation of biodiversity, agricultural production, towns, infrastructure and cultural and social values, is avoided or minimised.
  7. Surface water and groundwater is securely allocated for sustainable production purposes and to support human uses and the environment, within the sustainable capacity of the water resource.
  8. Sustainable production systems are developed and management practices are in place, which maintain or rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services, maintain or enhance resource quality, maintain productive capacity and prevent and manage degradation.
Resource condition matters for targets
  1. Land salinity.
  2. Soil condition.
  3. Native vegetation communities’ integrity.
  4. Inland aquatic ecosystems’ integrity (rivers and other wetlands)
  5. Estuarine, coastal and marine habitats’ integrity.
  6. Nutrients in aquatic environments.
  7. Turbidity/suspended particulate matter in aquatic environments.
  8. Surface water salinity in freshwater aquatic environments.
  9. Significant native species and ecological communities.
  10. Ecologically significant invasive species.

Management action matters for targets

  1. Critical assets identified and protected.
  2. Water allocation plans developed and implemented.
  3. Improved land and water management practices adopted.

Montoring and Evaluation Framework

This framework was developed to assess progress towards improved natural resource condition through the development of accurate, cost-effective and timely information on the:

  • health of the nation’s land, water, vegetation and biological resources
  • performance of programs, strategies and policies that provide national appoaches to the conservation, sustainable use and management of these resources

It provides a set of indicators for assessing change in resource condition and program performance. The roles and responsibilities for meeting national, State/Territory and regional level reporting requirements are outlined.

The framework structures monitoring and evaluation processes at the national level and also provides a blueprint for monitoring and evaluation frameworks for programs, strategies and policies within the scope of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council.

Additional resources

An example of a project conducted under the NAP framework is the Central Queensland Strategy for Sustainability – 2004 and Beyond (Fitzroy Basin Association).