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The role of science in the nature conservation policies of Western Australia

Pouliquen-Young, Odile (1995) The role of science in the nature conservation policies of Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The thesis examines the role that conservation science and scientists have played and should play in the development of the nature conservation strategies of the State of Western Australia. The first part of the thesis is devoted to an historical analysis of the main conservation strategy in place in the State: the creation of nature conservation reserves. It is noted that the reserve selection process, from the 1950s onwards, was greatly influenced by the outstanding contribution of a few conservation scientists. These personalities were instrumental in the development of a scientifically-based system of reserves for the State. However, the government's belated response to pressures of economic development, and their worthless land approach to reserve creation together mean that the scientifically-based selection criteria have been compromised by social and political considerations. The conservation-through-reserve strategy has thus been an opportunistic process which has led to the creation of a large but disjunct system of reserves, and which has not halted the loss of biodiversity. The strategy has also resulted in the creation of a centralised administrative organisation to try to manage this vast system of reserves, within which conservation research has been internalised. Three case studies reveal in more detail how the social and scientific frameworks of reserve creation have become more complex and their assumptions more politically contested.

Given the limits of the conservation-through-reserve strategy in contributing to the conservation of biodiversity, the second part of the thesis focuses on the design of a relevant conservation science which would address the concept of ecologically sustainable development. Conservation biology provides a strong internal knowledge structure, especially when it enlarges its traditional interests in population and community processes to the scale of the landscape. Among the ethical frameworks which seek to value nature, the land ethic provides a clear ethical basis in which to ground a conservation practice drawing from the concept of sustainable development. Finally, conservation biology needs to develop a sound political ethos, and in particular it needs to direct some of its efforts into the development of community science, rather than relying solely on a traditional scientific framework.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Barns, Ian
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