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Government, policy & community

A community-based survey of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus, in the Eden region of south-eastern New South Wales

Lunney, D, Esson, C, Moon, C, Ellis, M & Matthews, A 1997, Wildlife Research, vol. 24, pp. 111-128.

A community-based survey was carried out in cooperation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Forestry Commission between 1991 and 1992 in the Eden region of south-eastern New South Wales (NSW).  The survey revealed that koalas were very rare in the region and had been for at least four decades.  Sighting records indicated that koalas were more commonly found in State Forests (54%) than in private tenures (38%) or National Parks and Nature Reserves (8%).

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A mismatch of community attitudes and actions: a study of koalas

Shumway, N, Seabrook, L, McAlpine, C, & Ward, P 2014, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 126, pp. 42-52.

In southeast Queensland, the attitudes of residents toward koala conservation were found to be significantly influenced by their area of residence, which in turn influences the likeliness of an individual to take actions to help conserve the iconic species.  Suburban residents’ attitudes toward koala conservation were much less favorable than those of peri-urban and eco-village residents.  Social demographics such as income level and age are less influential on attitudes towards conserving koalas, though it was found that gender may influence the likelihood of an individual to participate in conservation actions.

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Achieving fauna conservation on private land: Reflections on a 10-year project

Lunney, D, Matthews, A, Moon, C & Turbill, J 2002, Ecological Management & Restoration, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 90 – 96.

A group of wildlife ecologists completed an extensive plan detailing conservation outcomes for koalas living on private land in the Coffs Harbour local government area in New South Wales. The Coffs Harbour City Koala Plan of Management, that was published in 1999 and officially launched in 2000, was the result of ten years of work. The authors of the Coffs Harbour City Koala Plan of Management plan documented their difficulties and triumphs in its production and implementation.

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Changes in the distribution of reports of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) after 16 years of local conservation initiatives at Gunnedah, north-west New South Wales, Australia

Ellis, MV, Rhind, SG, Smith, M & Lunney, D 2017, Pacific Conservation Biology, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 63-70.

The results of two community surveys of the koala population in the Gunnedah region in New South Wales taken in 1990 and 2006 were compared. The survey of 1990 was initiated after the charismatic marsupial became a mascot for a tree planting program to address the problem of salinity on agricultural land in the area. As koalas were later reported to be using these planted trees, another survey was conducted in 2006 at a broader geographical scale. Although the surveys employed different methodologies, these two datasets allowed some broad conclusions to be made about changes in the region’s koala population over time.

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Citizen science for policy development: the case of koala management in South Australia

Hollow, B, Roetman, PEJ, Walter, M, & Daniels, CB 2015, Environmental Science & Policy, vol. 47, pp. 126-136.

The authors of this paper discuss how data gathered from citizen science projects may contribute to policy development, using the South Australian ‘Great Koala Count’ as a case study. They report that data gathered from citizen science projects may not always be adequate for informing policy development as the opinions of participants may not necessarily reflect those of the wider community.  However, the information collected from these projects may contribute greatly to the early stages of policy development such as defining the issues, measuring public opinion and educating the public about the issues.

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Conclusions and recommendations for koala conservation

Cork, SJ, Clark, TW & Mazur, N 2000, Conservation Biology, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 702 – 704.

During the 1997 meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Australia, a symposium on koala conservation was held. This symposium was attended and contributed to by a variety of government land management agencies, non-governmental environmental organisations and community groups. A number of issues with koala conservation were identified. Subsequently, a special issue of Conservation Biology was released focusing exclusively on issues in koala conservation. This article, which concludes the special issue, summarises the key issues and recommendations for improved processes in koala conservation.

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Conserving koalas: A review of the contrasting regional trends, outlooks and policy challenges

McAlpine, C, Lunney, D, Melzer, A, Menkhorst, P, Phillips, S, Phalen, D, Ellis, W, Foley, W, Baxter, G, de Villiers, D, Kavanagh, R, Adams-Hosking, C, Todd, C, Whisson, D, Molsher, R, Walter, M, Lawler, I & Close, R 2015, Biological Conservation, vol. 192, pp. 226-236.

The koala has suffered a 50% decline in its distribution since European colonisation began in Australia, and consequently its conservation has become a national priority. The purpose of this review was to synthesise current knowledge of koala populations and their threats to identify a way forward for their conservation.

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Contribution of community knowledge of vertebrate fauna to management and planning

Lunney, D, O’Neill, L, Matthews, A, & Coburn, D 2000, Ecological Management & Restoration, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 175 – 184.

A postal survey on vertebrate fauna was conducted within the community living on the Iluka Peninsula in northern New South Wales. The survey asked residents to mark on a map the locations of vertebrate species (both alive and dead) they had seen on the Iluka Peninsula, as well as a series of questions about opinions on wildlife conservation and management. The survey revealed not only is the abundance of vertebrate fauna on the Iluka Peninsula, but the strong community support for improved habitat and wildlife management.

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Introduction: an interdisciplinary effort for koala conservation

Cork, SJ, Clark, TW, & Mazur N 2000, Conservation Biology, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 606-609.

This paper opens a special edition of Conservation Biology dedicated to the conservation of the koala. The authors preface the special edition by explaining how a cooperative, interdisciplinary approach is critical in the decision-making process for developing effective koala conservation management strategies. Taking a systematic view of the conservation policy and decision-making process highlights all the components that are involved as well as how these components are interrelated in the sense that weakness in any one component may compromise the end result.  It is also important to acknowledge the role of social and political science in the development of policy beyond biological science alone. 

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Koala Conservation Policy Process: Appraisal and Recommendations

Clark, TW, Mazur, N, Cork, SJ, Dovers, S & Harding, R 1999, Conservation Biology, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 681-690.

The conservation of koalas depends upon adequate, comprehensive policies that can be easily adapted to suit ‘best practices’ in regions with koala populations. Without an effective decision-making and planning process, koala populations may experience an overall decline. This study critically analyses current processes of developing and implementing koala conservation policies in terms of overall success and functionality.

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Landscape ecology as a bridge from ecosystems to human ecology

Haber, W 2004, Ecological Research, vol. 19, pp. 99-106.

Building connections between ecosystem research and human ecology will result in interdisciplinary landscape research and a holistic approach to ecological management. To promote biodiversity and sustainability, landscape research, landscape design and human ecology must consciously select facts and spatially arrange ecosystems or ecotopes (‘diversified land-use units’) while keeping in mind the intensity of modern land-use.

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Regional planning in Queensland's rangelands: challenges and prospects for biodiversity conservation

McAlpine, CA, Heyenga, S, Taylor, B, Peterson, A & McDonald, G 2004, Geographical Research, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 27-42.

Natural resource management (NRM) responsibilities have gradually shifted from the Commonwealth and State governments to regional NRM bodies.  In Queensland, regional NRM targets for the rangelands vary greatly in level of specificity and comprehensiveness due to informational gaps.  Furthermore, targets are typically asset-based and there is poor linkage between the scientific information base and target development, as well as among targets.  There is, therefore, a need to expand the information base through active research, information sharing among different sectors, and increased community involvement.

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Saving our national icon: An ecological analysis of the 2011 Australian Senate inquiry into status of the koala

Shumway, N, Lunney, D, Seabrook, L & McAlpine, C 2015, Environmental Science & Policy, vol. 54, pp. 297-303.

In 2010, an inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population was referred to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee (hereafter referred to as the Committee). The following year the Committee released their findings in a report called ‘The koala – saving our national icon’ (hereafter referred to as the report). Following the release of this report, a group of wildlife ecologists examined the Committee’s findings from an ecological perspective and reported several issues.

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Strategies to conserve the koala: cost-effectiveness considerations

Tisdell, CA, Preece, HJ, Abdullah, S & Beyer, HL 2017, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 302-318.

The long-term and continuing decline of koala populations in the northern extent of the species’ range indicates that current conservation initiatives are not effective and, consequently, are not cost-effective. In this review, the authors critically evaluate koala management policies and programs in Queensland in terms of their cost-effectiveness.

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The contribution of community wisdom to conservation ecology

Predavec, M, Lunney, D, Hope, B, Stalenberg, E, Shannon, I, Crowther, MS & Miller, I 2016, Conservation Biology, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 496-505.

Citizen science can contribute to scientific research through direct involvement in data collection or collective knowledge from the community (often termed “wisdom of crowds”).  Community wisdom can produce results that match those of traditional research while at the same time offering a larger spatial and temporal scope into the population trends of koalas.

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The use of Senate inquiries for threatened species conservation 

Shumway, N & Seabrook, L 2015, Ecological Management and Restoration, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 196-198. 

  A Senate inquiry was used to list the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, as a threatened species, setting a precedent for using Senate inquiries to assess threatened species. The authors of the paper conclude that Senate inquiries have a political basis, do not rely on expert opinion to the appropriate extent, and do not force legislation as a result of their conclusions. Better species conservation should use a logical decision framework based on ecological knowledge.

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