Effective conservation is all about making smart decisions

A red ironbark woodland in Jackass Flat Nature Conservation Reserve, Victoria. What’s the value of acquiring more information for our management of these ecosystems? (Photo by Melburnian, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Valuing information for management

Improving the future of box-ironbark forests with targeted learning Key messages: Value-of-information analysis reveals the expected benefit of reducing uncertainty to a decision maker. We performed this analysis on management of box-ironbark forests. With three management alternatives (limited harvest/ firewood removal, ecological thinning, and no management), managing the system optimally (for 150 years) with the […]

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Triggers: linking monitoring to decision making

How we can better integrate decision triggers into management Managing natural environments involves making difficult decisions about when to intervene to prevent undesirable changes. Intervening too early may result in unnecessary management actions, while intervening too late may lead to much greater costs or irreversible outcomes. ‘Decision triggers’ is one approach that can be useful […]

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Burnt heath (foreground) and woodland (background) after a
large wildfire. The burnt stems in the foreground are Banksia ericifolia.
This usually dominant heath plant can become locally extinct if fire
intervals are too short. (Photo by Claire Foster)

Environmental context is critical for fire management

Guidelines need to look beyond species traits for good outcomes Key messages: Fire-management guidelines are often based on the traits of individual species We studied the association between the recent fire regime and the plant community in three common vegetation types of coastal SE Australia Guidelines considering different vegetation types as separate management units may […]

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We are really bad at predicting management outcomes for entire communities such as the endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland pictured here. (Photo by Ayesha Tulloch)

Making big predictions using small data

Managing threats to communities of declining species with incomplete information Key messages: By combining models of responses to threats with network analyses of species co-occurrence, we developed an approach to predict how an ecological community restructures under threat management Information from a few species on co-occurrence and expected responses to alternative threat management actions can […]

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Impact of a large wildfire

Management guidelines for many fire-prone ecosystems highlight the importance of maintaining a variable mosaic of fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Managers are encouraged to aim for fire mosaics that include all successional states of vegetation, and also include variation in the underlying ‘invisible mosaic’ of past fire frequencies, severities, and fire-return intervals. But how should […]

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Conservation and the Village Forest

Do community forests reduce deforestation? Community forest management has been identified as a win-win option for reducing rates of deforestation while also improving the welfare of rural communities in developing countries. But is it delivering the hoped for benefits? Despite considerable investment around the world in community forestry, there is a lack of systematic evaluation […]

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Fishery managers constantly have to deal with the challenge
of making decisions on allowable catch quotas with incomplete
information. Adaptive management is one pathway to meet this
challenge. (Photo by Megan Saunders)

Learning about adaptive management

Good decisions produce results AND help you learn KEY MESSAGES: Ecosystems are poorly understood, but often require immediate management action Adaptive management allows action to be taken immediately, and also helps learning Though commonly cited, true adaptive management is rarely applied Changing management because of ongoing monitoring at management sites is not adaptive management Adaptive […]

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Billions of dollars have been invested in large-scale restoration programs across farming landscapes in Australia and overseas. Some projects involve the protection of remnant native vegetation, others involve linear or block plantings of native trees. Some involve innovative mixes of native and traditional crops. Which approaches work? Which designs are most cost effective and enduring? Longterm monitoring can generate the evidence on which to judge these programs and build better policy (evidence-based policy). Unfortunately, long-term monitoring for such programs is more the exception than the rule. (Image by Dean Ansell)

Five things about long-term monitoring

Good decisions for the environment need an eye on the longer term Key messages: Long-term monitoring provides essential evidence on which to base good environmental decisions Good design is essential for effective long-term monitoring Things change over time; to remain effective, long-term monitoring needs to adapt around these changes Partnerships are crucial for ensuring long-term […]

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Using fire to promote wildlife conservation

Understanding how pyrodiversity begets biodiversity Key messages: Pyrodiversity describes the variation in the time between fires, their severity, size and patchiness New work is advancing our knowledge of the connection between pyrodiversity and biodiversity but there is a need to further develop approaches that are better tailored to local conditions All around the world fire […]

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One dog’s fun is another bird’s terror. Repeated disturbance by dogs can stress and even kill shorebirds. (Photo by Kiran Dhanjal-Adams)

Using maths to decide when to put dogs on leashes

Reducing the threat to our endangered migratory shorebirds Key messages: We sought the most cost-effective allocation of patrol effort among sites with a limited budget to help manage disturbances to migratory shorebirds We demonstrate a straightforward objective method for allocating enforcement effort while accounting for diminishing returns on investment over multiple visits to the same […]

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Photo of the Ex-Mega Rice Project Area

Modelling Kalimantan’s tropical forest landscapes

Mixed policies can meet multiple expectations Key messages: We analysed the potential outcomes of 10 alternative land-use policy scenarios for a high-priority region for forest protection, restoration and rural development in Central Kalimantan All 10 policy strategies are capable of achieving all stakeholder objectives provided at least 29–37% of the landscape is conserved for biodiversity […]

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Riparian vegetation along Brisbane River. Queensland’s waterways provide over $10 billion annually in economic benefits.

Restoring waterways cost-effectively

Southeast Queensland’s waterways provide over $10 billion annually in economic benefits through drinking water supply, fishing, tourism, and recreation. But these goods and services are under threat from intensive agricultural, urban development and climate change.

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Should we protect highly threatened habitats or safe habitats?

Risk it or play it safe? KEY MESSAGES: There is a bias towards placing MPAs in areas that are least threatened We found that conservation targets in our study area could not be met solely by avoiding high threat areas A threat selection strategy should be part of the management toolbox Cost-effectiveness in spatial conservation […]

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The Los Molles fisher organisation on the central coast of Chile (Image by Katrina Davis)

Why are fishers not enforcing their user rights?

Sustainable fisheries management in Chile KEY MESSAGES: Assigning user rights to fishers is expected to lead to more sustainable fishing practices by fishers Fishers may choose not to enforce their user rights if they think that government policing of marine areas and punishment of poachers are ineffective In Chile, the government can support fishers’ engagement […]

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Robecca Jumin from WWF-Malaysia (third from the right) receives a
certificate in conservation planning from trainers from the University
of Queensland (during one of the Marxan courses run in Malaysia).
From the right are Hugh Possingham, Hedley Grantham and Carissa
Klein. The course was run in 2010 in Sabah.

From Marxan to management

Ocean zoning with stakeholders establishes the Tun Mustapha Marine Park Malaysia has just established the Tun Mustapha Marine Park off the northern tip of Sabah province in Borneo (Malaysia). At 1.6 million hectares, it’s the country’s biggest marine protected area, and Marxan and CEED scientists have played an important role in the planning process that […]

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In this game you will be asked to manage a hypothetical Coho salmon

‘Robots’ vs environmental managers

Automated model-based algorithms compete against humans in conservation games KEY MESSAGES Computer games allow us to compare human-based decisions against model-based decisions On average the ‘robots’ made better decisions than humans using intuition There is real value in the greater use of quantitative methods in environmental management Given all the real world complexities involved when […]

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Focussing on the fox alone might unleash the rabbit population creating an even bigger impact on the threatened species being managed for.

Threat management and conservation priorities

Accounting for the interactions between management actions Key messages threatened species face multiple threats that need managing effective management requires a consideration of how management actions for different threats might act together considering management interactions when choosing conservation priorities is not common Threatened plants and animals often face multiple threats, each of which require different […]

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