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Government, policy & community

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.

  Issues identified at the symposium included poorly-defined rules and standards for decision making, inconsistent definitions of conservation problems, economic interests being favoured over conservation and inadequate opportunities for public participation in the koala conservation process. Participants agreed that current koala conservation practices were insufficient and that there was inadequate implementation of pertinent research and policies. Varying and inconsistent definitions of key principles necessary for effective koala conservation, such as sustainable development and what constitutes sufficient data, were also identified as significant issues. Koala surveys were also as identified as being unstandardised, as well as highly regionalised and lacking sufficient financial support. Symposium participants also expressed dissatisfaction with the reliance on advocacy to solve problems.

  Based on the presentations and discussions that occurred at the symposium, as well as the papers presented in this special issue of Conservation Biology, a number of recommendations were made. Firstly, koala conservation needs to become more interdisciplinary and stakeholders must aim to find common ground with other interest groups. Secondly, greater public awareness of decisions relating to koala conservation and how these decisions are made is necessary. Providing workshops, training events and seminars for government and non-government staff, community leaders and interested citizens to attend was identified as a significant potential action that could address several issues simultaneously. Workshops and similar events could provide the extensive knowledge required for koala conservation to the necessary practitioners, forums for conflict resolution and informed debate on conservation practices, standardisation of koala survey techniques, dissemination of successful community-based planning and conservation activities, and ultimately wider community involvement in koala conservation planning.

 

Summarised by Alexander Hendry

 

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