Review of Catchment Action NSW funding to Local Land Services

Since 2008, the Catchment Action NSW has provided funding to Local Land Services (and previously Catchment Management Authorities) for regionally-delivered projects to address state natural resource management priorities.

Until 2013, the Catchment Action NSW funding was provided by the Minister for Primary Industries via NSW Trade and Investment. In 2013, the Cabinet decided that the funding would be drawn from the Waste and Environment Levy under the Minister for the Environment.

Evaluation of Catchment Action NSW

At the request of the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Natural Resources Commission (the Commission) has commenced an end-of-program evaluation of Catchment Action NSW.

The evaluation will include the funding period 2013-14 to 2016-17 with a focus on the last two years. During this time, funding for Catchment Action NSW was provided to Local Land Services by the Office of Environment and Heritage.

This evaluation will provide high-level assurance around Local Land Services’ delivery of the Catchment Action NSW funding, provided by the Office of Environment and Heritage.

The scope of this evaluation is guided by an evaluation framework. It will involve a review of project reports and data from a sample of successful projects, as well as interviews and site visits. The review will focus on outcome, process and economic evaluation of the Catchment Action NSW.

Mid-term review of Catchment Action NSW

The Office of Environment and Heritage appointed the Commission to carry out a mid-term review of Local Land Services’ delivery of Catchment Action NSW funding in 2014-15.

The Commission has now finalised its report. Overall, the Commission found that:

  • Local Land Services are delivering projects that align with a broad interpretation of the funding themes under the agreement - biodiversity conservation, threatened species, Aboriginal cultural heritage and native vegetation management

  • an assessment of Local Land Services project plans against the Performance Standard for Local Land Services indicates they are likely to be delivering the intended outcomes

  • several barriers and transitional issues at the state level including Local Land Services’ organisational immaturity, lack of effective risk management and limited communication with regions, prevented Local Land Services from fully meeting the intent of the Catchment Action NSW program in 2014-15. Despite these constraints, Local Land Services have the capacity to fully deliver on the intent of the program in coming years, providing they continue to work with the Office of Environment and Heritage to clarify investment and reporting expectations, improve state-scale communication and reporting processes, and make ongoing improvements to regional project planning and quality assurance.

The Commission recommended that ongoing risks to successful delivery of Catchment Action NSW funding can be addressed through the opportunities for improvement identified in the report.

The Commission has drawn on a range of evidence to inform its findings, including review of relevant documentation, interviews with the Office of Environment and Heritage and Local Land Services representatives, and assessment of 25 sample project plans drawn from the Central West, Hunter and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services regions.

Final report - Mid-term review of Catchment Action NSW (November 2015)