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Novel ecosystems: Governance and conservation in the age of the Anthropocene

Clement, S. and Standish, R.J.ORCID: 0000-0001-8118-1904 (2018) Novel ecosystems: Governance and conservation in the age of the Anthropocene. Journal of Environmental Management, 208 . pp. 36-45.

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Meeting conservation objectives in an era of global environmental change has precipitated debate about where and how to intervene. Ecological and social values of novel ecosystems are particularly contested. Governance has a role to play, but this role is underexplored. Here, we critically review the novel ecosystems literature to identify challenges that fall within the realm of governance. Using a conceptual framework for analysing adaptive governance, we consider how governance could help address five challenges. Specifically, we argue that reforming governance can support the re-framing of policy objectives for ecosystems where transformation is likely, and in doing so, it could highlight the tensions between the emergence of novel ecosystems on the one hand and cultural expectations about how ecosystems should look on the other. We discuss the influence of power, authority and administrative competence on conservation efforts in times of environmental change. We consider how buffering can address translational mismatch between conventional conservation policy and modern ecological reality. This review provides insights into how governance reform could enable more adaptive responses to transformative changes, such as novel ecosystems, while remaining committed to achieving conservation outcomes. Indeed, at their best, adaptive responses would encompass the reality of ecological transformation while being sympathetic to concerns about undesirable outcomes. Connections between researchers in the fields of governance, ecology and conservation could help to achieve these twin aims. We provide examples of governance and policy-making techniques that can support context-specific governance reform that supports more effective conservation in the Anthropocene.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
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