Skip to navigation Skip to content

Putting 'Good Practice' in Context - Lessons for Catchment Management

Research Funding Body

RESAS programme 2009-2015, work package 3.5: Managing at a Catchment Scale


Marshall, K.,Blackstock, K. L., Waylen, K. and Dunglinson, J

Project Objectives

To provide improved understanding of the catchment management project cycle.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures?

Previous research has identified several factors that promote collaborative management success including the use of adaptive management approaches, good communications between stakeholders and management of conflictive situations. However, critical assessment of past case studies shows that following good practice processes may not always result in successful outcomes (e.g. increased engagement, sustainable process, improved water quality) as other factors can intervene such as lack of funding, poor coordination, and difficulties in maintaining engagement with key stakeholders. This research addresses the need to understand the factors that may influence the efficacy, efficiency and equity of such processes.


A desk study on 29 catchment management processes illustrated that they operated over different timescales, with different objectives, levels of funding, staffing and stakeholder engagement, and for different rationales. Interviews were conducted with catchment officers and steering group chairs (N = 15) for eight of these processes.

Key Results

  • The success of catchment management is not dependent on a single type of process and cannot be assessed simply by using a single, inflexible set of criteria.
  • The extent to which the use of ‘good process’ guidelines or toolkits can improve the likelihood of success depends not only on if they are used, but if they are flexible enough to be applied appropriately in a diverse range of settings.
  • A key element, and a predominantly external one, influencing the ability of catchment management to function effectively, was funding for the role of a co-ordinator or process manager. Without such staff effective communications between stakeholders and coordination of resources was not considered possible. Managers, and chairs of steering groups where they exist, also play a central role in achieving the levels of representation required for a properly collaborative management process. The need for an enthusiastic individual offering leadership, providing vision and steering the process is key to the success of catchment management



Contact Person

Kirsty Blackstock (

More Information


Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/putting-good-practice-context-lessons-catchment-management on 01/12/23 10:41:31 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.