NRM managers only human - ‘bias’ and natural resource management

Sayed Iftekhar NRMPeople in all walks of life – from town planners to judges and financial regulators – are subject to bias in their perceptions and judgements. Natural resource managers too are only human.

CEED researchers at the University of Western Australia have found that we may be able to improve the performance of natural resource management (NRM) if we recognise the influence of biases and work to reduce them.

“Decision makers do not always perceive things accurately,” says Sayed Iftekhar, the lead researcher on the study published in Conservation Letters. “It has been shown that, in making judgments dealing with uncertainty, decision makers are susceptible to different types of biases – beliefs that are inconsistent with reality or behaviors that compromise the achievement of objectives.”

Read more: NRM managers only human - ‘bias’ and natural resource management

Conservation prioritisation for koalas

Koala conservationWhere east meets west, where best to invest?

For species that are increasingly threatened by the combined effects of habitat loss and climate change, we need to identify priority regions where we should be focussing our conservation efforts. In the case of specialist leaf-eaters, considering the effects of climate change on the distributions of their essential food resources should be a key component of conservation planning. The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) was listed in 2012 as Vulnerable under Commonwealth Government law in the states of Queensland and New South Wales (including the ACT). Yet the synergistic threats to this species continue unabated.

Read more: Conservation prioritisation for koalas

Halting cane toad invasion in WA by putting barriers around dams

Cane toad barrierCane toads have reached the Kimberley and there is no sign that their march of conquest is finished. Their remorseless advance across the Top End makes it seem they are invincible, but CEED researchers Reid Tingley and Darren Southwell believe that the species has an Achilles heel.

Cane toads are a tough, fast, adaptive species with glands that can secrete a cocktail of toxins lethal to native species. Their one weakness is water. Cane toads can travel across dry landscapes like few other amphibians, but even they cannot survive more than 10 days without water. In very dry regions, their spread may be halted by taking away any permanent water sources. If access to enough water sources in the same area can be removed (e.g., by fencing natural water bodies, or minimising leaks in cattle tanks), the last parts of Australia that the toads haven’t yet reached may be walled off. The result would be a break in the landscape – a moat with no water – that toads can’t cross.

Read more: Halting cane toad invasion in WA by putting barriers around dams

Making the most of our flagship species

Polar bear flagship spPrivate sponsorship and conservation efficiency

It's well known that some species have greater public appeal than others. The species with the greatest appeal are often furry mammals such as the koala or polar bear, or in places like New Zealand, there are large birds like the kiwi. Research has shown that people are willing to pay more for conserving these species than other species, even if the other species are also threatened with extinction.

If people are donating their own money to help specific threatened species, and possibly ignoring other threatened species, does it really matter? If you're after the best conservation outcomes, our new analysis suggests it really does.

Read more: Making the most of our flagship species

Prioritising reforestation efforts in Indonesia

14213818026 0bd6a96e97 o

In 2012, Indonesia broke the record for tropical forest clearing. Stories of the haze from burning forest and peatland blanketing South East Asia are common, and awareness of the economic and health hazards that this creates is growing.

Over 63 percent (82.9 million hectares) of Indonesia’s Forest Estate is currently deforested or degraded and many iconic species such as orangutans and proboscis monkeys have become endangered as a result. Indonesia faces a challenge to reduce these environmental effects while achieving development goals for oil palm, timber plantations and energy production. These goals are coupled with increasing industry and international demand and are important for securing economic growth for Indonesia.

Read more: Prioritising reforestation efforts in Indonesia