Local stakeholder judgements of the social acceptability of applying environmental water in the Gunbower Island forest on the Murray River, Australia

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    Abstract

    Australian governments have purchased large volumes of water from irrigators to decrease the amount of water diverted for agriculture to improve the health of the Murray River. Irrigation entitlements ‘bought back’ are managed by government agencies and are broadly described as ‘environmental water’. The water reform process, the volume of water bought back from irrigators and the objectives and application of environmental water are all contested by irrigators and local communities. This paper provides the first examination of the social acceptability of environmental water in Australia with a case study of Gunbower Island on the Murray River using a survey of local stakeholders. Most respondents visited Gunbower Island regularly, placed a high value on the island and were committed to maintaining the health of the island. Nevertheless, respondents were more likely to exhibit unfavourable judgements about environmental water. Positive judgements were associated with pro-environmental values, belief in the benefits of environmental water and higher levels of trust in the managing agency. Findings provide insights about how the key agency can improve the social acceptability of environmental water in Gunbower Island, including a greater focus on on-ground work as an opportunity to engage local people in learning and action.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)218-234
    Number of pages17
    JournalWater Policy
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

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    stakeholder
    river
    water
    reform process
    environmental values
    government agency
    health
    irrigation
    learning
    agriculture
    reform
    examination
    community
    Values

    Cite this

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    abstract = "Australian governments have purchased large volumes of water from irrigators to decrease the amount of water diverted for agriculture to improve the health of the Murray River. Irrigation entitlements ‘bought back’ are managed by government agencies and are broadly described as ‘environmental water’. The water reform process, the volume of water bought back from irrigators and the objectives and application of environmental water are all contested by irrigators and local communities. This paper provides the first examination of the social acceptability of environmental water in Australia with a case study of Gunbower Island on the Murray River using a survey of local stakeholders. Most respondents visited Gunbower Island regularly, placed a high value on the island and were committed to maintaining the health of the island. Nevertheless, respondents were more likely to exhibit unfavourable judgements about environmental water. Positive judgements were associated with pro-environmental values, belief in the benefits of environmental water and higher levels of trust in the managing agency. Findings provide insights about how the key agency can improve the social acceptability of environmental water in Gunbower Island, including a greater focus on on-ground work as an opportunity to engage local people in learning and action.",
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    N2 - Australian governments have purchased large volumes of water from irrigators to decrease the amount of water diverted for agriculture to improve the health of the Murray River. Irrigation entitlements ‘bought back’ are managed by government agencies and are broadly described as ‘environmental water’. The water reform process, the volume of water bought back from irrigators and the objectives and application of environmental water are all contested by irrigators and local communities. This paper provides the first examination of the social acceptability of environmental water in Australia with a case study of Gunbower Island on the Murray River using a survey of local stakeholders. Most respondents visited Gunbower Island regularly, placed a high value on the island and were committed to maintaining the health of the island. Nevertheless, respondents were more likely to exhibit unfavourable judgements about environmental water. Positive judgements were associated with pro-environmental values, belief in the benefits of environmental water and higher levels of trust in the managing agency. Findings provide insights about how the key agency can improve the social acceptability of environmental water in Gunbower Island, including a greater focus on on-ground work as an opportunity to engage local people in learning and action.

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