Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A “Colombo Plan” for Biodiversity Conservation

By Hugh Possingham

Building an effective and self-supporting network of conservation research professionals across the region could prove to be Australia’s greatest biodiversity legacy.

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

The vast majority of the research on biodiversity conservation in Australia is funded by Australian taxpayers through Australia’s governments or Australian universities, with some scattered industry and international funds. Much of our research is used by agencies in other countries.

Don’t we have enough problems of our own? Why would we spend time writing papers about prioritising threatened species in New Zealand, optimal methods for surveying tigers in Sumatra and conservation investment in the coral triangle? There are at least four answers.

First, for everything we give away we get plenty back. Discovery research is just that, finding out new things or posing and solving problems that have never been solved before, anywhere in the world. If it is in the international peer-reviewed literature then, if the system is working, it is genuinely novel.

Furthermore, most of the ideas, discoveries and tools transcend continental boundaries and are useful to everyone. Tools and techniques for making decisions about prioritising actions and monitoring work anywhere.

Second, given Australian applied ecology is only about 5% of global applied ecology we get back about 20 times what we put in. By making our contribution we buy a seat at the co­operative venture of science – which includes sharing discoveries, people and ideas through many mechanisms...

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

Professor Hugh Possingham is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.