Natural resource management (NRM) in Australia began as a series of campaigns against specific threats to agricultural and pastoral production, with war progressively declared on soil erosion, introduced pests and dryland salinity. Critiques of NRM programs in the 1990s coincided with a shift towards an asset-based approach. This approach emphasises the need for public investment to be focused on those parts of the landscape of high value, rather than defending large areas against broad-scale threats. The asset-based approach is more strategic, but runs the risk of sacrificing effectiveness for efficiency by overlooking the large-scale biophysical and social processes that underpin the viability of discrete assets. Further, the asset-based approach fails to sufficiently acknowledge the importance of engaging and building the human, social and cultural capital required to underpin longterm environmental management. A condition-based approach to NRM is proposed that builds on the best of the threat-based and asset-based approaches by setting targets based on environmental processes rather than perceptions of ideal states; borrowing systematic approaches to assessing value and condition from conservation planning; and investing in the social, economic, human and cultural capital required to support lasting change.