Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1417–1431 | Cite as

Objectives for management of socio-ecological systems in the Great Barrier Reef region, Australia

  • Ingrid Elizabeth Van PuttenEmail author
  • Catherine Mary Dichmont
  • Leo Ximenes Cabral Dutra
  • Olivier Thébaud
  • Roy Aijun Deng
  • Eddie Jebreen
  • Randall Owens
  • Ricardo Pascual
  • Mark Read
  • Carolyn Thompson
Original Article


A wide range of goals and objectives have to be taken into account in natural resources management. Defining these objectives in operational terms, including dimensions such as sustainability, productivity, and equity, is by no means easy, especially if they must capture the diversity of community and stakeholder values. This is especially true in the coastal zone where land activities affect regional marine ecosystems. In this study, the aim was firstly to identify and hierarchically organise the goals and objectives for coastal systems, as defined by local stakeholders. Two case study areas are used within the Great Barrier Reef region being Mackay and Bowen–Burdekin. Secondly, the aim was to identify similarities between the case study results and thus develop a generic set of goals to be used as a starting point in other coastal communities. Results show that overarching high-level goals have nested sub-goals that contain a set of more detailed regional objectives. The similarities in high-level environmental, governance, and socio-economic goals suggest that regionally specific objectives can be developed based on a generic set of goals. The prominence of governance objectives reflects local stakeholder perceptions that current coastal zone management is not achieving the outcomes they feel important and that there is a need for increased community engagement and co-management. More importantly, it raises the question of how to make issues relevant for the local community and entice participation in the local management of public resources to achieve sustainable environmental, social, and economic management outcomes.


Coastal management Management objectives Case study research Community consultation Great Barrier Reef 

Supplementary material

10113_2015_867_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Elizabeth Van Putten
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Catherine Mary Dichmont
    • 3
  • Leo Ximenes Cabral Dutra
    • 3
  • Olivier Thébaud
    • 3
    • 4
  • Roy Aijun Deng
    • 3
  • Eddie Jebreen
    • 5
  • Randall Owens
    • 6
  • Ricardo Pascual
    • 1
  • Mark Read
    • 6
  • Carolyn Thompson
    • 7
  1. 1.CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere FlagshipHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Ecosciences PrecinctDutton ParkAustralia
  4. 4.IFREMER, Centre BretagnePlouzanéFrance
  5. 5.Queensland Department of AgricultureFisheries and ForestryBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Great Barrier Reef Marine Park AuthorityTownsvilleAustralia
  7. 7.Great Barrier Reef Marine Park AuthorityMackayAustralia

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