The Conservation Planning Group Applied conservation research

Integrated cross-realm planning: a decision-makers’ perspective

A new paper on integrated cross-realm planning, led by Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero and other members of the Conservation Planning Group, is now online in Biological Conservation.

We followed a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to examine the foundations, current approaches, and key requirements of cross-realm planning. Over three workshops, our team of authors included people with extensive on-ground experience in management and policy. The main output is an operational framework for integrated cross-realm planning that extends current thinking in conservation science. We aimed to close the gap between research, planning, and implementation through the direct participation of decision-makers in the framework’s design and application.

Our study contributes significantly to the real-world application of cross-realm planning as evidenced by the direct contribution of conservation practitioners as co-authors on this paper. Our paper presents the views of these decision makers regarding the need for and ways to undertake applied cross-realm planning, rather than the typical academic examination. In this regard, we present a framework that, while founded on up-to-date science, is accessible to decision makers, recognises their needs for decision-support, and is currently being used by them to advance real-world planning across realms.

The framework was developed based on the knowledge and needs of managers and policy makers actively involved in planning. The framework provides the step-wise detail that decision makers require, but often find missing, when implementing planning and management. To further guide planners in navigating the complex decision-making process when planning across realms, we have included Supplementary Material that provides a detailed explanation of each planning component and how it was applied in a real-world planning process.

The published version is available below or by contacting Jorge. The final accepted version of the manuscript is also available through Research Gate.

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L., Douglas, M., Dale, A., Auge, A., Ball, D., Childs, J., Digby, M., Dobbs, R., Gobius, N., Hinchley, D., Lancaster, I., Maughan, M., Perdrisat, I., 2015. Integrated cross-realm planning: a decision-makers’ perspective. Biological Conservation: doi.10.1016/j.biocon.2015.07.003

Abstract: Pursuing development and conservation goals often requires thinking and planning across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms because many threats and social-ecological processes transcend realm boundaries. Consequently, effective conservation planning must consider the social and ecological links between realms and follow a cross-realm approach to allocate land/water uses and conservation actions to mitigate cross-realm threats and maintain cross-realm ecological processes. Cross-realm planning requires integrating multiple objectives for conservation and development, and assessing the potential co-benefits and trade-offs between them under alternative development scenarios. Despite progress in cross-realm planning theory, few fully-integrated and applied cross-realm plans exist. The gaps between research and implementation are not unique to cross-realm planning, but are accentuated by the complexity of spatial decision-making entailed. Based on a collaborative process including scientists, resource managers and policy-makers, we developed an operational framework for cross-realm planning based on up-to-date thinking in conservation science, but offering practical guidance to operationalise real-world planning. Our approach has a strong theoretical basis while addressing the visions and needs of decision-makers. We discuss the foundations and limitations of current approaches in cross-realm planning, describe key requirements to undertake this approach, and present a real-world application of our framework.

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About Us
We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers at James Cook University, interested in all aspects of conservation planning and led by Prof. Bob Pressey. We are based at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, the College of Business, Law & Governance, and the Cairns Institute. We collaborate widely with conservation biologists and practitioners worldwide. 

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