The MERI program is essential to ensure that we learn from our experiences and improve our programs and projects to better achieve the environmental gains described in our Lachlan Catchment Action Plan (CAP) targets. All projects are partnerships with landholders or the community. So our monitoring and evaluation also relies on partnering with them to get sustainable relationship upon completion of projects.
The major aims of the MERI Program are;
To monitor our progress in implementing the Lachlan CAP,
To guide evaluation and reporting to help us improve Lachlan CMA's operations and demonstrate value from our funded programs,
To support landholders and the community to monitor their natural resources to make better management decisions, and
To help develop and publish the NSW State of the Catchment Report Card for the Lachlan.
The Natural Resource Commission is an independent body that was established by the NSW government. The main role of the NRC is to provide independent advice to the State Government about natural resource issues. The Natural Resources Commission has also recommended state standards for the management of natural resources and will continue to audit all CMA's, including their MERI Plans and activities to ensure these standards are being met.
The first review of the Lachlan CAP will be in 2010, Triggers for change could include community attitude, economic shifts, climate change, new knowledge, legislative change, energy costs, and other issues identified in the Lachlan MERI Program. The inclusion of monitoring, evaluation and reporting in the CAP will guarantee that the community will receive value for money in its investment in natural resource management. To achieve this, the Lachlan CMA has developed a MERI Plan (including MERI Framework and other documents) to ensure that activities being funded through the Lachlan CAP are undertaken in the most efficient and effective way and the NRC standards are met.
The Lachlan MERI Framework (Lachlan CMA, in press) uses the NSW State framework (NSW Government 2009) and Australian Government framework (Australian Government 2008). This identifies, monitoring, reporting and reviewing procedures and responsibilities for all business, strategic and operational activities within the Lachlan CMA. The key outcome of these activities is to support the process of adaptive management and continual improvement.
The Lachlan MERI program assesses progress on catchment NRM targets and welcomes contributions from the community. The program is defined in the Lachlan Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Framework (LCMA, in press) and takes into account the requirements set out in the 'NSW Standard for Quality Natural Resource Management' (Natural Resources Commission, 2005) and their application to the business of the Lachlan CMA whilst covering all aspects of the Lachlan CMA business.
Australian Government, Natural Resource Management Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) Framework, 2008, www.nrm.gov.au/publications/frameworks/meri-framework.html.
NSW Government, Draft Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Framework, 2009
Lachlan Catchment Management Authority, Lachlan Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Framework, in press NRC, 2005, Standard for Quality Natural Resource Management, September 2005, Sydney, V.1.0, Doc No.D05/5274