Movement science and policy

The ‘Movement’ crowd at Mollymook.

The ‘Movement’ crowd at Mollymook.

The movement of organisms has a fundamental influence on the distribution of biodiversity and affects community structure and ecological phenomena such as reproduction, resource availability and species interactions. Anthropogenic disturbances and inappropriate management can disrupt these important processes, so movement information should be considered in conservation decisions.

A recent review indicated that there remains a dearth of information on species movement and its incorporation into policy. In light of this, NERP ED ran a workshop on the topic down at Mollymook (south coast of NSW) in September 2013. The broad aim was to identify the relevance of movement information to a range of government policy and management issues and develop a framework for managing uncertainty when making environmental decisions.

Participants split into two groups to address two key issues. The first group identified environmental decision-making domains where movement information is most relevant, with a view to providing advice to both sides of the policy-science interface on how to effectively share information. This group also identified emerging areas of biodiversity policy that might benefit from movement knowledge.

The second group developed a conceptual framework for managing the two types of uncertainty encountered within these decision-making domains: the relevance of movement to the environmental decision, and information on movement itself. During this process Department staff provided policy case studies and decision scenarios, which were extremely valuable in providing context so that researchers could ensure that the approaches taken were realistic and relevant.

It’s hoped that the new collaborations arising from this workshop will enable movement science to better inform policy in a range of areas (for example in connectivity and restoration policy).

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