Assessing the Impacts on Local Communities of Changes Natural Resource Management

Imagine a situation where a change is proposed in the production, use or access of a natural resource (i.e., fisheries, forestry, mining, water, agriculture). The change may be about limiting access to the natural resource or it may be about reducing production volumes.

One of the key questions is the extent and magnitude of any potential impact on communities and people that may be dependent upon the resource.

Town Resource Cluster Analysis (TRC-Analysis) is a key methodological framework and tool that has been used to assess the impacts of change in natural resource management on local communities. It has been used to assess micro economic impacts and impacts on the composition of populations and the provision and use of social infrastructure services.

Using indicators of vulnerability and resilience it has also been used to assess the relationship between natural resource management and the health, well being and vitality of communities.

The following figure provides a very basic explanation of the framework on which the technique is based. Working through the six figures in turn:

Figure A: Imagine 30 fishing business located in four coastal towns. Most are located in the town of Lucinda.

Figure B: We know from interviews that the 30 fishing businesses fish in specific areas. Many fish in an area close to the four costal communities (primary resource catchment), while others fish further away (secondary resource catchment).

Figure C: Where do these businesses spend their money? Figure 3 shows that while most of the businesses are located in Lucinda most of their purchases are from the inland town of Ingham.

Figure D: Where do the employees live? Most live in Lucinda and Ingham, although some also live in Halifax and Dungeness.

Figure E: Where do these employees spend their money? Most of the employee expenditure occurs in the town of Ingham and not in Lucinda.

Figure F: Where are the social infrastructure services (schools, hospitals etc) used by employees? Again most of the social infrastructure services are in Ingham.

How can such a framework be used to assess impacts?

Imagine that there was closure of part or the entire fishery in the either the primary or secondary catchment identified in Figure 2. Through this framework we know where the impacts would occur and although the calculations are not shown here, we would also know about the extent and magnitude of the impacts associated with employment, business expenditure, employee expenditure and the use of social infrastructure services.

With the use of additional indicators about the four towns we would also know how vulnerable or resilient the towns were to change.

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