Whilst ecological research and monitoring can help define unfavourable ecosystem conditions; the question of when to implement a management action requires value judgements by decision-makers. Such judgements require decision-makers to subjectively trade-off competing objectives.
NERP ED researchers worked with Parks Victoria to trial a structured decision making (SDM) process to explore where to set management thresholds for the intertidal brown alga, Neptune’s necklace, at Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. Neptune’s necklace is an indicator of the condition of invertebrate and algal communities on Victoria’s rocky intertidal reefs. Parks Victoria has identified that a key threat to intertidal reef communities is trampling by humans. While the condition of Neptune’s necklace has remained relatively stable since 2004, Parks Victoria are concerned that human trampling may increase in the future and is likely to result in declining condition of intertidal reef communities. The challenge for Parks Victoria is this: If the condition of Neptune’s necklace starts to decline in the future, at what point should a more intensive management strategy be implemented to minimise the impact of trampling?
Addison PFE, K de Bie & L Rumpff (2015). Setting conservation management thresholds using a novel participatory modelling approach. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12544.