The Conservation Planning Group Applied conservation research

15 ways to weaken (or strengthen) a protected-area system

At the meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology (Oceania) in Brisbane, July 2016, Bob Pressey led a symposium on recent weakening of the Australia protected-area system. Examples of weakening include legal changes to boundaries or allowed uses, but there are many other examples, typically under the public’s radar, of weakening without legal changes. The symposium was followed by a writing workshop at O’Reilly’s resort in the Border Ranges, south-east of Brisbane, from Saturday 9th to Monday 11th of July. The workshop developed an outline of a journal paper on the ways in which governments undermine the effectiveness of protected areas, and corresponding ways in which undermining can be reversed to achieve better outcomes for biodiversity. The workshop identified 15 ways of weakening (or, if we choose, strengthening) protected areas.

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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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