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Institutional change for landscape-scale biodiversity conservation in the Australian Alps and Tasmanian Midlands

Clement, S., Moore, S.A., Lockwood, M. and Mitchell, M. (2014) Institutional change for landscape-scale biodiversity conservation in the Australian Alps and Tasmanian Midlands. In: Resilience 2014, 4 - 8 May, Montpelier, France.

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Despite global institutional commitments to significantly slow biodiversity loss, the state of biodiversity has continued to decline whilst pressures on ecosystems increase. Institutions can both contribute to further decline or foster collective action to conserve biodiversity and build ecosystem resilience. The poor performance of institutions thus far underpins calls for adaptation and even transformation of biodiversity governance. However, the response to these calls has been limited, with few if any case-specific reform proposals that identify pathways to enhance adaptive and/or transformative governance capability. This paper outlines three different institutional reform packages explored in two contrasting Australian regions, the Australian Alps and the Tasmanian Midlands. The two regions – one centred on publicly owned national parks and the other on privately owned agricultural land – provided an opportunity to explore governance responses to adaptation and transformation in two very different contexts. We developed the reform packages through first applying a diagnostic framework to assessing current institutional conditions and determining whether these constrain or enable biodiversity conservation at a landscape-scale. The framework drew on 14 institutional dimensions to identify gaps, weaknesses, and failures in biodiversity conservation governance. Following this analysis, we developed three packages of institutional reforms, in consultation with stakeholders, for each case study. One package assumes a worsening in current governance arrangements where biodiversity is increasingly neglected, another accepts the current neo-liberal emphasis in Australian biodiversity governance, while the third reconceptualises a much more communitarian shaping of governance for biodiversity. All packages address the changes suggested by the earlier diagnosis. And, all address decision-making, rights and responsibilities, roles across levels of governance, legislation, and the overarching purposes of biodiversity governance in each context. We conclude with reflections on the ability of these packages to build institutional adaptive capacity and navigate transformation. We also discuss the utility of the diagnostic framework as an empirical tool that bridges the gap between theoretical descriptions of idealised forms of adaptive institutions and the practical impediments faced by actors in biodiversity governance.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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