Collaboration mobilises institutions with scale-dependent comparative advantage in landscape-scale biodiversity conservation

Hill, R., Davies, J., Bohnet, I.C., Robinson, CJ., Maclean, K., and Pert, P. L. (2015) Collaboration mobilises institutions with scale-dependent comparative advantage in landscape-scale biodiversity conservation. Environmental Science & Policy, 51. pp. 267-277.

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Landscape-scale approaches are emerging as central to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation globally, triggering the requirement for collaboration between multiple actors and associated risks including knowledge asymmetries; institutional fragmentation; uncertainty; power imbalances; "invisible" slow-changing variables; and entrenched socio-economic inequities. While social science has elucidated some dimensions required for effective collaboration, little is known about how collaboration manages these risks, or of its effects on associated social-ecological linkages. Our analysis of four different Australian contexts of collaboration shows they mobilised institutions matched to addressing environmental threats, at diverse scales across regulatory and non-regulatory domains. The institutions mobilised included national regulatory controls on development that threatened habitat, incentives to farmers for practice-change, and mechanisms that increased resources for on-ground fire and pest management. Knowledge-sharing underpinned effective risk management and was facilitated through the use of boundary objects, enhanced multi-stakeholder peer review processes, interactive spatial platforms, and Aboriginal-driven planning. Institutions mobilised in these collaborations show scale-dependent comparative advantage for addressing environmental threats. The findings confirm the need to shift scientific attention away from theorising about the ideal-scale for governance. We argue instead for a focus on understanding how knowledge-sharing activities across multiple scales can more effectively connect environmental threats with the most capable institution to address these threats.

Item ID: 41618
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6416
Keywords: risks, social-ecological, planning, knowledge-sharing, scale
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Copyright 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license(

Funders: CSIRO Building Resilient Australian Biodiversity Assets Theme, National Environmental Research Program, Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility, Reef Research Grants, Ord Final Agreement, Caring for our Country Program
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 17:18
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 100%
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