Interdisciplinary Guidelines for Developing Effective Koala Conservation Policy


*School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Sage Hall, 205 Prospect Street, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, U.S.A., and Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Box 2705, Jackson, WY 83001, U.S.A., email

†Urban and Environmental Research Program, Research School for Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2022, Australia

‡Department of Natural Resources and Environment, East Melbourne, VIC 3002 and Deakin University, 662 Blackburn Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia

§Division of Wildlife and Ecology, Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial, and Research Organization, PO Box 84, Lyneham, ACT 2602, Australia

Adequacy of the ongoing koala policy process and whether it can conserve koalas is currently in dispute. To address this issue, interdisciplinary guidelines are available to improve koala policy and management and to find consensus. These guidelines focus attention on five policy elements. The first three are rational, political, and moral perspectives on koala policy; the fourth the standpoint of a participant, and the fifth is knowledge integration for practical action. We discuss and illustrate these elements with koala case material. Rationality in policy is addressed through problem orientation, which requires participants to clarify goals, identify problems, and create alternatives in an iterative way. We examined the political dynamics— value clashes—in decision processes. A decision process ideally clarifies and secures common interests. We provide standards for each decision function, such as reliability, comprehensiveness, timeliness. Morality rests on basic premises that are used to justify policy positions. Clarification of the participant’s standpoint addresses differing personalities, epistemologies, disciplines, and organizational and parochial biases. Integrating knowledge for practical policy action requires a conceptual framework that is up to the demands of the task. Together the five policy elements make up a logically comprehensive set of interrelated concepts for koala policy development, implementation, and appraisal. Many opportunities exist to use these guidelines skillfully in on-the-ground koala conservation efforts to improve koala policy outcomes.