Evaluating Participatory Watershed Management: A Case Study of the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Program
Participatory approaches to watershed management have been touted as more effective
than traditional command-and-control approaches, yet evaluations of their success have
been limited. This master’s project develops a framework for participatory watershed
management program evaluation in terms of process and outcomes, with particular
attention to social capital outcomes. I then apply the framework in a case study
evaluating the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Program (APNEP) to discern
program strengths, challenges, and lessons learned. APNEP is a participatory watershed
management program that spans coastal NC and VA. Since the mid 1980’s members of
the public have been involved in a process to develop and implement a Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan for the region via a Citizen Advisory Committee
(CAC). I evaluate APNEP using qualitative and quantitative data collected through
interviews and surveys of CAC members.
Members of the Citizen Advisory Committee perceive broad stakeholder involvement,
common goals, and dedicated staff as the primary strengths of the APNEP process.
Perceived ecological outcomes are related primarily to water quality improvements.
Social capital outcomes (such as improved social networks and education) are the
impacts of APNEP that CAC members most frequently recognize. Program challenges
include insufficient funding and lack of immediate and visible impacts. The study
concludes with lessons learned from the APNEP case study evaluation which could
inform the design of participatory watershed management programs in other watersheds.
Many of the positive results that APNEP participants reported would not have been
captured by traditional evaluations focused only on measuring biophysical outcomes.
The evaluative framework developed in this study is therefore a valuable tool to provide a
more holistic evaluation of the full impacts of any participatory watershed management
School Location:USA - North Carolina
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:watershed management participatory albemarle pamlico national estuary program apnep
Date of Publication:05/01/2007