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The Value of More Information for Managing Koalas

By Sean Maxwell

Thinking like a multi-billion dollar mining magnate may help us better manage koalas.

Sean Maxwell is a researcher with the Environmental Decisions Group. He is based at the University of Queensland.

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

Koalas in south-east Queensland are in trouble. They are threatened by vehicles, dog attacks and disease, and these threats are growing as koala habitat is cleared to make way for new housing and industrial estates. The rate of decline is alarming, with a significant population within south-east Queensland crashing from an estimated 6000 individuals to fewer than 2000 in the space of 15 years.

In response to this, the Queensland Government has allocated $26.5 million to managing koalas in south-east Queensland over the next 4 years. How should we spend this to maximise the chance of koalas persisting in south-east Queensland?

Most natural resource management budgets are typically allocated to either gaining new information about the species or ecosystem in question, or to direct management action. In the case of south-east Queensland koalas there is uncertainty about the birth and death rates, and the effect of forest cover on these rates. Gaining new information that would reduce these uncertainties may lead to more effective management strategies. Alternatively, new information about these uncertainties may not change how we currently manage the species, and a better investment could be to allocate funds to direct management action now.

These kinds of resource allocation problems are not restricted to natural resource management. They are common...

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