Place-based knowledge networks: The case of water management in South-West Victoria, Australia

Kevin O'€™Toole
School of International and Political Studies, Deakin University, Australia; otoole@deakin.edu.au
Anne Wallis
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia; amwallis@deakin.edu.au
Brad Mitchell
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia; bradm@deakin.edu.au

ABSTRACT: This article aims to investigate the need for effective exchanges between knowledge generators and knowledge users in water management. Firstly, we explore the use of adaptive management for water governance and then outline the communication issues of water-management knowledge at a regional scale. Central to this approach is the need to harness 'local' knowledge that can be used to develop community participation in local water governance. Accordingly, we propose a three-network communication model to illustrate the process and identify the issues of concern for developing place-based strategies. Since research plays a central role in knowledge generation, one of the first ways to proceed is to recognise local research and incorporate it into an inclusive decision-making process. One way to achieve this is through the development of regional networks that are openly available to all, and we explore this by focusing on the place of 'network thinking' at local scale using a newly developed regional network for local knowledge dissemination in south-west Victoria, Australia. We conclude that so far this new network is too heavily reliant upon one web-based tool and outline a broader range of strategies that can be used to achieve its aims.