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Partnerships and participation in catchment scale restoration: A study of the Manga-o-tama, Ōhaupō Peat Lakes to Waipā River Catchment Restoration Project

With a changing climate, rapidly declining ecosystems and an increasing population, the time to act and redefine society’s relationship with the environment is upon us (Chapin et al., 2012; Jenkins, 2018). Collaborative approaches to environmental management have emerged across the globe to better provide holistic and sustainable outcomes for people and the planet (Fenemor et al., 2011; Reo et al., 2017). At the heart of landscape scale collaboration lies the formation of multistakeholder partnerships. This study investigates the factors that influence the formation of successful multistakeholder partnerships in collaborative catchment scale restoration, in an Aotearoa New Zealand setting. Using a case study, the Manga-o-tama, Ōhaupō Peat Lakes to Waipā River Catchment Restoration Project, this research explores the interconnected social, political, economic and environmental factors at play in a collaborative partnership. Ostrom’s (2007, 2009) social- ecological systems framework guided the organisation and analysis of this study. Qualitative research methods comprising a comprehensive literature review, nine semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observations were carried out in this case-study analysis. The findings show that purposeful and ongoing participatory processes are required to support the development of an effective partnership and a shared understanding. Participants in this study are largely motivated by a connection to the environment and a community, with a sense of stewardship or sense of place being key to supporting participation and ongoing behaviour change. Organisational barriers and challenges, including that of funding, capacity issues and the need to further strengthen relationships between some stakeholder groups were identified. Project planning and funding models that allow for adaptative management and social and ecological learning were also identified as being highly valuable to establishing effective collaborative partnerships. This thesis contributes to the field of multistakeholder partnership and social-ecological systems research, with a specific focus on catchment scale collaborations in an Aotearoa New Zealand context.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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