We applied six measures of effectiveness to recent decisions about additional conservation areas in north-eastern New South Wales. Three have been widely used previously: (1) number of conservation areas; (2) total extent of conservation areas; and (3) representativeness (the proportion of natural features such as forest types or animal species represented in conservation areas to some targeted level). The other measures were: (4) efficiency or representation bias (the extent to which some features are protected above target levels at the expense of others that remain poorly protected); (5) relative protection of vulnerable areas within public land (percentage protection of flat, fertile areas relative to that of steep and/or infertile areas); and (6) relative protection of vulnerable areas across all tenures (the correlation between the amount of protection given to features and their vulnerabilities to clearing). We applied the measures in two chronological comparisons: the reserve system in 1994, 1996 and 1997; and before and after the Interim Assessment Process of 1996 which involved negotiations over new reserves and extensive unreserved areas that were temporarily deferred from logging. Over the study period, despite expansion of formal conservation and progress towards quantitative conservation targets, gazetted reserves remained strongly biased to the steep and/or infertile parts of public lands. Both gazetted reserves and areas deferred from logging increased the bias in protection away from forest types most vulnerable to clearing and for which regional conservation targets had already been most compromised. Two major challenges for future conservation decisions in the region are common to conservation planning generally: (1) to focus protection within public tenure on habitats and species most vulnerable to threatening processes such as logging; and (2) to provide more effective conservation management on private lands where loss of native vegetation continues.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2002
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