Positives and pathologies of natural resource management on private land-conservation areas

Clements, Hayley S., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2017) Positives and pathologies of natural resource management on private land-conservation areas. Conservation Biology, 31 (3). pp. 707-717.

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Abstract

In managed natural resource systems, such as fisheries and rangelands, there is a recognized trade-off between managing for short-term benefits and managing for longer term resilience. Management actions that stabilize ecological attributes or processes can improve productivity in the supply of ecosystem goods and services in the short term but erode system resilience at longer time scales. For example, fire suppression in rangelands can increase grass biomass initially but ultimately result in an undesirable, shrub-dominated system. Analyses of this phenomenon have focused largely on how management actions influence slow-changing biophysical system attributes (such as vegetation composition). Data on the frequency of management actions that reduce natural ecological variation on 66 private land-conservation areas (PLCAs) in South Africa were used to investigate how management actions are influenced by manager decision-making approaches, a largely ignored part of the problem. The pathology of natural resource management was evident on some PLCAs: increased focus on revenue-generation in decision making resulted in an increased frequency of actions to stabilize short-term variation in large mammal populations, which led to increased revenues from ecotourism or hunting. On many PLCAs, these management actions corresponded with a reduced focus on ecological monitoring and an increase in overstocking of game (i.e., ungulate species) and stocking of extralimitals (i.e., game species outside their historical range). Positives in natural resource management also existed. Some managers monitored slower changing ecological attributes, which resulted in less-intensive management, fewer extralimital species, and lower stocking rates. Our unique, empirical investigation of monitoring-management relationships illustrates that management decisions informed by revenue monitoring versus ecological monitoring can have opposing consequences for natural resource productivity and sustainability. Promoting management actions that maintain resilience in natural resource systems therefore requires cognizance of why managers act the way they do and how these actions can gradually shift managers toward unsustainable strategies.

Item ID: 50661
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: command and control, management strategies, private protected area, productivity, resilience, slow-changing variables, system variance
ISSN: 1523-1739
Funders: James S. McDonnell Foundation, GreenMatter Harry Crossley Fellowship, National Research Foundation, Percy FitzPatrick Institute (PFI)
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:57
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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