Evaluating conservation planning: elucidating the societal and governance factors behind effective conservation prioritisations

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Blog: https://emmajmcintosh.wordpress.com/

Academic Profile

Emma is undertaking a DPhil at Oxford University as a recipient of a General Sir John Monash Foundation Scholarship. Emma has a Bachelor of Advanced Science (1st Class Honours, Uni Medal) from the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to commencing her DPhil, Emma was Science Convenor with the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, coordinating the development and implementation of an annual ecosystem health report card in the Great Barrier Reef. She has also worked with the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, giving science a voice in public policy debates, and with PrometheusWiki at CSIRO Publishing.

Current Research

As a member of the Grenyer lab, Emma's DPhil research will explore strategic approaches to biodiversity conservation. Globally we are faced with an extinction crisis and resources for biodiversity conservation must be carefully targeted. When tasked with prioritising areas of land and sea for protection, conservation planners must consider a wide range of biological, economic and socio-political factors if a plan is to be effective. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has gained popularity with policy makers worldwide, as a planning framework designed to provide transparency in value-laden decision making, and to bridge the 'knowledge-implementation divide'. This is in part due to the fact it allows decision makers to consider trade-offs between social, economic and biological objectives. However, there are few evaluations of the effect of SCP approaches on conservation planning globally.

The central aim of this project is to better understand the factors which influence the design and implementation of SCP-based conservation plans beyond consideration of the traditional biological criteria and to evaluate 'what works' in conservation planning. This will start with a systematic mapping exercise to collate data on the nature and form of conservation plans developed around the globe. A review of evaluations approaches in conservation planning will follow. In depth case studies will be used to elucidate the most influential factors underpinning the design of conservation plans, through interviews with conservation planners in Australia, where SCP approaches are widespread. Finally, a computational spatial prioritisation exercise will accompany the revision of management plans in the New Forest, southern England, to explore the relative importance of consultation and consideration of socio-cultural objectives in a complex socio-ecological system.

Over 23 million visits are made to the New Forest each year, making it an important place for education and recreation, as well as giving rise to many different opinions regarding its management.

Over 23 million visits are made to the New Forest each year, making it an important place for education and recreation, as well as giving rise to many different opinions regarding its management.

Mixed habitats in the New Forest - native woodland and heathland.

Mixed habitats in the New Forest - native woodland and heathland.

Publications

ResearchGate