Incorporating economic, social and environmental factors into a decision model for sustainable management of natural resources : a case study of the Ningaloo coast, Western Australia : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Economics at Massey University
There is growing demand for many of Australia's coastal areas to be conserved and retained in their natural state. The reconciliation of competing demands; such as residential, industrial, recreation, conservation and tourism; in a manner that ensures the sustainability of natural areas is a major issue facing coastal planners. The Ningaloo coastal strip in Western Australia is a prime example of a fragile coastal environment, subject to increasing visitation, complex economic, social, environmental and institutional forces and a wide range of stakeholders. The challenge for managers and planners of the coastal strip is to determine an appropriate level of development and a management regime that meets the needs of stakeholders while still achieving the state government's goals in relation to coastal zone management. To meet this challenge, decision need to carefully balance human needs with the environment's ability to assimilate the pressures placed upon it. This research integrates social, environmental and economic factors into a decision framework for the sustainable management of natural resources. This framework differs from existing frameworks in two ways; firstly, it specifically includes stakeholder analysis as an individual assessment technique and secondly, it focuses on rapid appraisal techniques. Three individual assessment techniques; environmental impact assessment, cost benefit analysis and stakeholder analysis; are incorporated into a multiple criteria analysis model. This model is applied to a case study of the Ningaloo coast, Western Australia. The results show that a co-management arrangement between indigenous communities and the Department of Conservation and hand Management is consistently superior to other management options identified. Another favourable management option is sole management by the Department of Conservation and Land Management. When weightings that reflect an environmental perspective are used, low visitation scenarios are preferred. The research concludes with land use and management recommendations for the Ningaloo coastal strip. This recommended management regime would involve some form of co-management between stakeholder groups and CALM, particularly the traditional Aboriginal inhabitants. The level of development would be low, with at most, a single wilderness lodge facility.