Integrating Sciences for Australian Natural Resource Management: The Role of the Social Sciences

By Christina Dwyer and Helen Ross.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Contemporary natural resource management is inherently complex and influenced by the changing nature of government, community partnerships and diverse agendas. Consequently, research to support natural resource management is most effective when integrative and adaptive. This paper describes a study undertaken in the Natural Resource Sciences (NRSc) Business Unit of the Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW), Queensland, Australia, to develop a framework for enhancing integrative research in their predominantly biophysical science. A collective view of ‘integrating sciences’ was developed and identified five different dimensions of integration for improving the way they do their science business. These are (1) the integration of scientific (biophysical, social and economic) outputs into policy and decision making, (2) supporting community needs with science, (3) further research on the principles and practice of integration and development of research approaches, (4) communication, and (5) the integration of local with scientific knowledge. The study’s findings, including significant challenges for integration within the organisation, highlight the social nature of enhancing integrative science approaches. A further exploration of the five dimensions focuses on the contribution and role of the social sciences and social processes underpinning this integration framework.

Keywords: Integration, Natural Resource Management, Natural Resource Science, Social Science, Integrative Science

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.926MB).

Ms Christina Dwyer

Principal Natural Resource Officer, Natural Resource Sciences, Department of Natural Resources and Water, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Christina Dwyer is a Principal Scientist in the Natural Resource Sciences Business Unit, Department of Natural Resources and Water, Queensland, Australia. She has interdisciplinary interests and background in geography, science and environmental education. Her fields include community participation in natural resource management, particularly through community monitoring of waterways and development of integration frameworks and approaches for enhancing natural resource science.

Prof. Helen Ross

Professor of Rural Community Development, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Queensland, Australia

Helen Ross is Professor of Rural Community Development in the School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, the University of Queensland, Gatton, Australia. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist (environmental psychologist and anthropologist) specialising in social aspects of sustainable development and environmental management. Her fields include community participation in natural resource management, collaborative planning and management processes involving communities and agencies, social impact assessment and approaches to integration.


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