The Impact of Varying Statutory Arrangements on Spatial Data Sharing and Access in Regional NRM Bodies
Keywords: Catchment Management, Natural Resource Management, Spatial Information, Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), Statutory Arrangement
Abstract. Spatial information plays an important role in many social, environmental and economic decisions and increasingly acknowledged as a national resource essential for wider societal and environmental benefits. Natural Resource Management is one area where spatial information can be used for improved planning and decision making processes. In Australia, state government organisations are the custodians of spatial information necessary for natural resource management and regional NRM bodies are responsible to regional delivery of NRM activities. The access and sharing of spatial information between government agencies and regional NRM bodies is therefore as an important issue for improving natural resource management outcomes. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the current status of spatial information access, sharing and use with varying statutory arrangements and its impacts on spatial data infrastructure (SDI) development in catchment management sector in Australia. Further, it critically examined whether any trends and significant variations exist due to different institutional arrangements (statutory versus non-statutory) or not. A survey method was used to collect primary data from 56 regional natural resource management (NRM) bodies responsible for catchment management in Australia. Descriptive statistics method was used to show the similarities and differences between statutory and non-statutory arrangements. The key factors which influence sharing and access to spatial information are also explored. The results show the current statutory and administrative arrangements and regional focus for natural resource management is reasonable from a spatial information management perspective and provides an opportunity for building SDI at the catchment scale. However, effective institutional arrangements should align catchment SDI development activities with sub-national and national SDI development activities to address catchment management issues. We found minor differences in spatial information access, use and sharing due to varying institutional environment (statutory versus non-statutory). The non-statutory group appears to be more flexible and selfsufficient whilst statutory regional NRM bodies may lack flexibility in their spatial information management practices. We found spatial information access, use and sharing has significant impacts on spatial data infrastructure development in catchment management sector in Australia.