Institutional framework

The impact of the institutional framework on the management of Australia’s threatened birds

Tim Holmes, Environmental Decisions Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland

The loss of biodiversity has been well documented for decades and today the decline in biodiversity continues with most country-level indicators showing negative trends. About fifty species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move closer to extinction each year. However, without implemented conservation actions the rates of decline would be significantly greater.

Of Australia’s extant birds, 18% species require conservation action and substantial amounts are spent attempting to keep them from becoming extinct.  Birds are a model group for detecting environmental change due to the low cost and relative ease of obtaining meaningful data, which is assisted by their popularity and citizen science. My study is investigating the attributes of the institutions and the species on which they work to identify the components that are important to the effectiveness and efficiency of the institutional arrangements. I am analysing and evaluating both the processes by which organisations carry out their duties and the outcomes of their operations and the study employs the use of both social and natural sciences to develop a clear understanding of the current situation regarding threatened bird conservation. The analysis will be done at a broad level including all organisations involved in the management of threatened birds, as well as through comprehensive analysis of a number of case studies. It will explore the formal components of the institutional framework such as laws, rules and organisations as well as the less formal aspects including relationships, networks, beliefs and behaviours.

Specifically, I am seeking answers to the following questions:

  • What planning approaches enhance Australian threatened bird conservation?
  • What are the gaps between agreed goals and actions taken by the organisations addressing the conservation of Australia's threatened birds?

These include assessing prioritising and planning processes, implementation of actions and monitoring and evaluation of organisations involved in the management of threatened birds. There are many institutions, organisations and individuals involved in attempting to improve the lot of threatened birds. These efforts, which often require significant investment, include considering needs, developing policies, passing laws, delivering programmes, educating, managing conflicts and much more. It is critical to understand what works and is worthy of investment and what does not work. This information will provide guidance on future management.

  • How effective are partnerships among organisations working on Australia’s threatened birds?
  • What role do social networks play in Australian threatened bird conservation?

This elicits information on: management by non-government organisations versus government; few actors working on a species versus many actors; formal versus less formal partnerships or no partnerships.

I am also exploring social networks, common and important components of threatened species management facilitating the flow of information. I am analysing these networks to explore both the structural and relational properties of actors within them and how this might enhance or hinder management of threatened birds. 

Project Partners

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