Learning from conservation success

Wed, 04 May 2016


What do the endangered western swamp tortoise (WA), pigmy bluetongue lizard (SA) and eastern bristlebird (NSW) have in common?

They might all be extinct were it not for the efforts of dedicated threatened-species recovery teams.

In the doom and gloom surrounding the ongoing loss of Australia’s unique biodiversity, the success stories of threatened-species recovery are often overlooked.

Not only does that discount the efforts of hundreds of threatened-species recovery teams around the country, it means we may be failing to learn about the ingredients of success.

Led by Professor Stephen Garnett (Project 6.4), in partnership with the Australian Government Department of the Environment, the workshop brought together over 30 wildlife officers, community workers, policy makers, researchers and representatives from leading conservation NGOs to share their experiences.

Common elements of threatened species recovery success were identified from a series of case studies including work to save the helmeted honeyeater, malleefowl, warru (black-flanked rock wallaby), red-tailed black cockatoo, western swamp tortoise, pigmy bluetongue lizard and the eastern bristlebird.

The group discussed how these lessons might inform a set of guidelines for recovery team governance, and agreed on common principles behind success, which included being: purposeful, transparent, responsible, inclusive, supportive, adaptive and innovative, evidence driven, efficient and effective.

The group plans to distill these principles into a set of guidelines to be produced by the Department of the Environment that will inform future recovery efforts, as well as publish a book celebrating the successful case studies.

Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews stressed the importance of selling our success stories in conservation while opening the two-day workshop at the University of Melbourne.

“While we don’t want to sell success stories as problems solved, we need to be careful about flooding people with negativity,” said Commissioner Andrews.

He commended the workshop’s effort to distil ideas on good governance and planning for threatened-species recovery.
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