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.
To shed light upon the decision processes and historical failures related to koala conservation, the authors applied a systematic view of the decision process and discussed each of its components. They attributed the existing conflicts in koala conservation to differences in values and beliefs of the people involved in policy making, stakeholders acknowledging only their own standpoints (such as ecological science or from advocacy positions), and not acknowledging the perspectives of others. Moreover, differences in views and beliefs may also influence what people perceive as problems; for instance, some people may see habitat loss as the main threat to koalas, while others perceive disease as the main conservation concern. It is, therefore, critical to consider the social and political factors that may influence conservation decision-making, rather than considering scientific inputs alone. Such awareness can resolve conflicts and dilemmas between different parties and aid the successful implementation of conservation efforts.
Lastly, the authors emphasised the importance of integrating biological and social knowledge for effective koala conservation decision-making, and how continuous learning at individual, organisational and policy levels can significantly contribute to the success of conservation efforts.
Summarised by Cherie Chan
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