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Cr Robertson, who has worked as a water quality scientist, was commenting in a roundtable discussion at the University of Otago's latest annual Foreign Policy School, held at St Margaret's College, Dunedin.
The school was devoted to ''Global Resource Scarcity: Catalyst for Conflict or Collaboration?''.
Cr Robertson, who has an Otago BSc (Hons) degree in ecology, reflected yesterday on work she had undertaken as a facilitator involving the Taieri Trust, between 2001 and 2006.
That trust had been widely inclusive of community interests, including the regional council and farmers, and had involved an early example of integrated catch-ment management.
This model had since been adopted elsewhere in the country, she said in an interview.
Before the trust initiative, there had been conflict and misunderstandings over land and water use on the Taieri.
Considerable scientific research had previously been conducted by Otago University researchers involving the Taieri River, but the community had often been unaware of the results.
The shared approach had proved successful, building better relationships, and also sharing the research results.