Spatial decision support for integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in Victoria, Australia: constraints and opportunities

2017-02-08T05:05:21Z (GMT) by Wheeler, Peter John
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992) endorsed a sustainable development approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), to be practiced amongst sectorally-based stakeholder groups via well-informed integrated and adaptive management. Adopted as public policy in Victoria, Australia, its prospects for success were enhanced, because promotion of the necessary information age data management had also become public policy. However, whilst public ICZM stakeholder agency Geographic Information Systems (GIS) users in Victoria have for some time had access to centralised government spatial data infrastructure (SDI), it is shown that a lack of detailed spatial information, and associated capacity-building to support its application, has prevented Victorian ICZM policy from being brought to best practice. This is evident from results of digital spatial modelling with both qualitative and quantitative assessments of stakeholder decision support systems. They reveal failure of stakeholder agencies to adopt appropriate spatial information maintenance and sharing procedures, and to recognise: a) the value of time-series data from across the coastal-catchment continuum for deployment in an integrated stakeholder consensus-building and decision support role, and b) that the appropriate data and information flows for decision support are unlikely to be established, unless the stakeholder agencies can be reformed to include ICZM practitioners familiar with the potential benefits offered by adoption of digital spatial information handling and modelling. In terms of decision support for the three key underpinning principles of the Victorian ICZM program - integrated and adaptive management, and ecologically sustainable development (ESD), it becomes apparent that the currently centralised SDI represents a top-down approach that is not balanced by user-based (bottom-up) input from ICZM stakeholders. Restitution lies in the establishment of regional GIS-based data sharing and spatial modelling decision-support frameworks within and between ICZM stakeholder agencies.