• watershed management;
  • collaborative planning;
  • interdisciplinary research;
  • incentive programs;
  • public participation

ABSTRACT: Watersheds are widely accepted as a useful geography for organizing natural resource management in Australia and the United States. It is assumed that effective action needs to be underpinned by an understanding of the interactions between people and the environment. While there has been some social research as part of watershed planning, there have been few attempts to integrate socio-economic and biophysical data to improve the efficacy of watershed management. This paper explores that topic. With limited resources for social research, watershed partners in Australia chose to focus on gathering spatially referenced socio-economic data using a mail survey to private landholders that would enable them to identify and refine priority issues, develop and improve communication with private landholders, choose policy options to accomplish watershed targets, and evaluate the achievement of intermediate watershed plan objectives. Experience with seven large watershed projects provides considerable insight about the needs of watershed planners, how to effectively engage them, and how to collect and integrate social data as part of watershed management.