Jurisdictional reporting on management effectiveness
It is has been widely acknowledged that management agencies are required to manage biodiversity despite an incomplete understanding and limited resources. However, what is less well understood is the inability of management agencies to assess the effectiveness of conservation management investments. All jurisdictions face limitations in their ability to adequately assess the effectiveness of their management actions. Notwithstanding this, many on-ground managers use adaptive management techniques to continuously learn and improve from each management action taken.
Australian Capital Territory
- Long-term research, monitoring and evaluation remain limited, with previous SoE recommendations to improve these areas only partially implemented.
- Strategic monitoring and data consolidation across the territory are limited.
- Public reporting about biodiversity matters should clearly identify and assess the outcomes of decisions and activities that are related to individual species, populations and ecological communities in the Australian Capital Territory.
- Audits into the effectiveness of state environmental management agencies indicate that, even when robust management frameworks exist, they have been undermined by inadequate data collection. Assessing the success or otherwise of management interventions becomes very difficult, resulting in a lack of accountability.
- The main reasons for gaps in monitoring are that:
- the indicator has never been monitored
- monitoring was undertaken but has ceased
- monitoring is conducted across a limited spatial and temporal scale, and the accessibility of available data is significantly reduced by the disparate nature of biodiversity datasets.
- Biodiversity trends over time are difficult to determine because of methodology changes. Although changes can improve data quality, it is often not clear whether trends are because of actual changes, increased accuracy or methodology changes.
- In response, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is progressively implementing an approach to improving the effectiveness of management. The approach combines the collection and collation of spatial information on management activity with robust monitoring and evaluation studies, and focuses on clarifying the most important assumptions underpinning the relationship between management actions and biodiversity outcomes. DELWP is also rolling out a set of information products identifying the best management options to conserve biodiversity in certain areas. These ‘strategic management prospects’ are based on models of response to management action by a wide range of species. These underlying models will be progressively refined as improved understanding emerges from the studies.
- The South Australian Government has developed a regionally based NRM reporting framework that allows state and regional natural resource managers to use the same information to understand the trend and condition of their natural assets, and to make informed planning decisions. The first complete set of report cards was released in 2014 and 2015. These are publicly available; they depict trend and condition of assets, and identify key data gaps.
- Decisions about where and how to invest will be improved by assessing the effectiveness of current and future investments against ecological, social and economic targets, and measures of the condition of natural resources.
New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory
- All other jurisdictions noted inadequate monitoring as a limitation in assessing species trends and the effects of pressures (see Jurisdictional reporting on pressures).