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Towards scientific contributions in applying the precautionary principle: An example from southwestern Australia

Calver, M.C., Bradley, J.S. and Wright, I.W. (1999) Towards scientific contributions in applying the precautionary principle: An example from southwestern Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology, 5 (1). pp. 63-72.

Abstract

Scientific suspicion of the widely stated precautionary principle is based largely on confusion as to procedures for incorporating scientific data into a philosophical-political process. Here we take published guidelines on applying the precautionary principle and illustrate how they allow scientific input to the question of whether or not current multiple-use forestry takes a precautionary approach to conserving threatened or vulnerable marsupials in the jarrah forest of Western Australia. The scientific input involves (i) identification of outcomes in similar situations elsewhere in Australia, (ii) selection of indicator species for monitoring based on predictions made on the basis of (i) above and published accounts of the species' biology, and (iii) a prescription for monitoring/experimentation that includes a quantitative requirement for a probability of detecting impacts based on statistical power analysis. On the standards suggested, contemporary management falls short of a quantitative definition of precaution that involves adherence to measurable standards.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/873
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