A good decision for the environment

What’s a good decision for the environment?

Is it: More funding for biodiversity conservation? a new national park being declared? a threatened species being declared a state emblem to give it a higher profile? or a program to pay farmers for good environmental stewardship?

All of these proposals would be sold by the government (or agency or NGO) implementing them as good decisions for the environment. But are they? Even if they generated the outcomes that were promised, is that enough?

As a younger man I believed a good environmental decision was one that generated a good outcome (saved a species over here, protected valuable habitat over there). While I still think a good outcome is important, it is possibly secondary to the process by which it is generated. This I believe is the key insight I have taken away from being associated with the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions for the past seven years: good decision making is more about the process of making decisions than the direct outcome of any particular decision.

A good decision for the environment is one that is transparent, efficient and effective; that came about with real stakeholder engagement and support; that enables learning; and something that serves as a stepping stone to even better decisions down the line.

CEED has been working on the science behind every dimension of good decision making. It has been my privilege to bring you stories in Decision Point from this body of research. Along the way, I’d like to think we’ve helped build a community of interest in environmental decision science and good decision making.

CEED didn’t invent decision science but, through its research and tool development, it has played a pivotal role in placing environmental decision science at the centre of good conservation management and policy. To celebrate that achievement, this final issue of Decision Point is a bumper 64- page issue carrying nine stories on the dimensions of good decision making.

Six of these stories have appeared in earlier issues of Decision Point, though the versions in this issue are expanded with case studies taken from across the life of CEED. And there are three additional stories (on value of information, collaboration and social dimensions) that were created specifically for this issue.

I’d like to thank all the excellent people I’ve worked with over the years, too many to list here, with special mention of Kerrie Wilson and Hugh Possingham (CEED’s two Directors) for their enthusiastic support of Decision Point. And I’d like to acknowledge the fabulous and supportive feedback we’ve had from our readers over the years.

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