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National Natural Resource Management Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

The Audit was responsible for developing key indicators for the Natural Resource Management M&E Framework, used to assess progress towards improved natural resource condition.

The National Natural Resource Management Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (referred to as the National M&E Framework) was endorsed by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in 2002. It was developed to assess progress towards improved natural resource condition through the development of accurate, cost-effective and timely information on:

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

The Framework identifies three key requirements for monitoring natural resource condition:

  • a set of natural resource condition indicators (including those for the ‘matters for target’ identified in the National Framework for Natural Resource Management Standards and Targets) to measure progress towards agreed national outcomes on a medium and long term basis
  • a set of indicators for monitoring community and social processes relevant to or affected by NRM programs, as well as measures of the adoption of sustainable development and production techniques
  • contextual data pertinent to the indicator being considered

The Audit was responsible for the development of these indicators, as well as supporting the national collection and collation of data, and reporting against each indicator.

Monitoring and evaluation of core indicators supports evidence-based decision making at national, state/territory and regional levels. However, each level may have a wide variety of data and information needs, in terms of content, context or scale. There is also complexity across the three levels of use associated with multiple needs, values, preferences and timeframes. The National M&E Framework helps answer questions raised by local processes, such as:

  • What is the existing nature of the issue?
  • Is the existing or proposed intervention appropriate for the size of the issue?
  • What types of intervention work best, are most cost effective, and have the best transferability across regions?
  • What was the impact of the policy or program investment - in the intermediate and long term?

Resource Condition and Management Action Targets

An important feature of the NRM initiatives is the level of program delivery that takes place through regional NRM bodies. Under these arrangements regional bodies are required to report on progress towards:

  • management action targets (MATS) - output reporting such as dollars spent or activities undertaken
  • resource condition targets (RCTs) - an assessment of whether there is a change in resource condition as a result of specific NRM program investment. This is sometimes referred to as ‘point of investment’ monitoring

In addition to these requirements there is a need for reporting on the overall resource condition and trends within the region, irrespective of NRM program investment. This has been referred to in different jurisdictions as ‘surveillance’ or ‘ambient’ monitoring.

This information provides context for regional planning, and baseline and trend information that can help assess progress towards targets.

While the Audit’s primary focus was on overall resource condition monitoring and reporting, a sound monitoring and evaluation system includes links between all of the above.

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