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Cooperation and Conflict in Conservation

By Michael Bode

Different groups are all “fighting” for the environment, but each group does it in its own way and with its own specific priorities – sometimes leading to negative conservation outcomes.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Systematic conservation planning is the absolute best-practice approach to conserving biodiversity in a large landscape. We create maps that highlight the distribution of our favourite conservation features – be they threatened species, vulnerable habitats, ecosystem services, or all of the above – and then we use these data to decide which locations are the most valuable. The result is a priority map: a chart of where our limited resources will do the most good for conservation.

While systematic conservation planning methologies do a pretty good job of describing the distribution of conservation features, they do a poor job of describing the conservation organisations themselves. Systematic conservation planning basically says that protected areas are created by a single conservation entity that is concerned about all the features equally. It therefore bears little resemblance to the landscape of organisations that make up the modern conservation sector. In biodiverse landscapes, reserve networks are the cumulative result of a huge number of autonomous, passionate, idiosyncratic organisations.

Of course, these organisations share the same general objective – to minimise or reverse harm to the environment. However, these groups are independent operators that are usually focused on radically different facets of conservation. Some are interested in species,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Michael Bode is a researcher with the Environmental Decisions Group. He is based at the University of Melbourne.