Creating Space, Supporting Diversity

I listened with interest earlier this week to a Radio National Bush Telegraph discussion.

Cameron White interviewed Hugh Possingham, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the University of Queensland about National Parks and Biodiversity.

The brief blog post about the program (with the podcast of the interview) notes that Hugh “argues that Australia’s conservation dollar is being spread to thinly. He believes we need to prioritise which national parks should be kept, and which ones can be sold off.”

In the interview Hugh drew attention to two fundamental issues:

  1. Do national parks support biodiversity?
  2. How do you manage 12% of Australia’s land mass with limited resources?

In addition to the interview some of Hugh’s thinking is shared in a University of Queensland press release. In that release Hugh observes that:

In the absence of major new sources of funds, we need to consider where the prospects of success are greatest and, indeed, what success in conservation actually consists of.

I found the combination of applied mathematics, decision science and economics in this discussion fascinating.

The Bush Telegraph interview prompted me to think about the spaces we create for high performance and the challenge to meet running costs. I thought too about all the conversations I have heard about a return on investment.

This has sent me off to ponder optimal training environments and how we might develop satiable and sustainable strategies for excellence. We have some lessons from biodiversity research to help focus our attention:

For all our present nationwide investment in conservation, we are still losing both species and ecosystem integrity. We clearly need better ways to decide what we can afford to save, because the current system plainly isn’t working as well as we’d hoped. The evidence indicates that Australian native species are still disappearing at a rate 100 to 1000 times faster than normal. Over the past 200 years, 22 mammal species have become extinct, over 100 are now on the threatened and endangered species list, and 6 more bird taxa were recently declared extinct.

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