Application of risk-based, adaptive pathways to climate adaptation planning for public conservation areas in NSW, Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Climate, 2019, 7 (4)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 by the authors. Globally, areas of high-quality wildlife habitat of significant environmental value are at risk of permanent damage from climate change. These areas represent social-ecological systems that will require increasing management intervention to maintain their biological and socio-cultural values. Managers of protected areas have begun to recognize the inevitability of ecosystem change and the need to embrace dynamic approaches to intervention. However, significant uncertainty remains about the onset and severity of some impacts, which makes planning difficult. For Indigenous communities, there are intrinsic links between cultural heritage and the conservation of place and biodiversity that need to be better integrated in protected area planning and management. In New SouthWales, Australia, management of public conservation reserves and national parks is the responsibility of a State government agency, the National Parks andWildlife Service (NPWS). This paper describes the outcomes of a participatory planning process with NPWS staff to, firstly, identify the options available, the available 'tool kit', to manage biodiversity and cultural heritage in protected areas; secondly, explore how the selection of management actions from the 'tool kit' is associated with the level of climate risk to biodiversity or cultural heritage assets; and thirdly, to understand how the form of individual management actions might adapt to changes in climate risk. Combining these three elements into a series of risk-based, adaptive pathways for conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage is a novel approach that is currently supporting place-based planning for public conservation areas. Incorporation of the trade-offs and synergies in seeking to effectively manage these discrete but related types of values and the implications for conservation practice are discussed.
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