ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Mapping community values for regional sustainability in the Lower Hunter region of NSW (2012-13)

Strategic Research Area

Social research for Regional Natural Resource Management


National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Landscape and Policy Hub, $175,000

Investigators/ Researchers

Dr. Christopher Raymond and Prof Allan Curtis


The Lower Hunter region (defined as the area covered by the Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens LGAs) is located in Eastern NSW and covers approximately 430,000 hectares, 60% of which is covered in native vegetation. Population growth and demand for residential dwellings is increasing pressure on the region's natural environment.  Regional planning authorities have recently commissioned a number of biophysical investigations to examine the impact of new dwellings on the natural environment; however, no studies into community values and preferences have been conducted.  The current project addresses this knowledge gap.

This project has three key objectives

  • Identify and map the values assigned by multiple community types to natural and built features in the Lower Hunter region.
  • Develop a robust methodology for eliciting community values for natural and built features which can be applied in multiple regional planning contexts.
  • Provide information and a series of policy recommendations to inform the Lower Hunter regional strategy, including a reliability check of sites tagged for conservation and regional development.
Rural land on urban fringe Hunter Valley NSW


A survey instrument and standardised methodology for mapping community values for regional sustainability in other land-use contexts. The journal paper Brown, G and Raymond, C.M. Methods for identifying land-use conflict potential using participatory mapping.  Landscape and Urban Planning is under review.


The project will recommend innovative ways for balancing conservation and development in the Lower Hunter, including maps which show the potential for conflict between development and conservation proposals.  

Dr Christopher Raymond
CSU Albury

May 2013