From Conflicts to wise practice agreement and national strategy: cooperative learning and coastal stewardship in estuarine floodplain management, Tweed River, eastern Australia




White, Ian
Melville, Michael D
MacDonald, Bennett
Quirk, R
Hawken, R
Tunks, Mark
Buckley, D
Beattie, R N
Williams, John
Heath, Lance

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Appropriate information, participatory processes and wise practice agreements are key elements in reducing conflicts over the use and management of coastal resources. In this work we describe the evolution of a cooperative learning approach to coastal floodplain management, incorporating these elements. Government-encouraged drainage of coastal floodplains in eastern Australia caused accelerated oxidation of acid sulfate soils and export of diffuse acidic drainage into streams. Major impacts on infrastructure, ecology, fisheries and aquaculture resulted. In the Tweed River estuary, in 1987, all gilled organisms were killed by acid discharge from floodplain canelands. This generated major conflicts between fishers, environmentalists and sugarcane producers. The cooperative learning partnership that evolved, involving cane farmers, local government, and researchers, has produced better strategies for managing sulfidic estuarine areas and mitigating impacts on downstream ecosystems. These underpinned mandatory best practice management guidelines for the NSW sugar industry. Increases in productivity and decreases in acid discharge have resulted. Fish kills on the Tweed and elsewhere also generated broader, parallel whole-of-government approaches that led to Australia's national strategy for managing coastal acid sulfate soils and the rapid adoption of information and strategies across Australia.



Keywords: Coastal engineering; Drainage; Estuaries; Learning systems; Oxidation; Soils; Acidic discharge; Coastal stewardship; Diffuse source pollution; Wise practice agreements; Flood control Acid sulfate soils; Acidic discharge; Coastal floodplain management; Cooperative learning; Diffuse source pollution; Wise practice agreements



Journal of Cleaner Production


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