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Conservation planners and managers must contend with important questions about competing priorities and strategies. Which species should we protect? What should be the objectives for the conservation of an ecosystem? How should we balance multiple values of a site, and which sites should be prioritised for protection or conservation action? Which conservation practices and tools will best achieve the intended outcomes? The answers to these questions depend not only on the biological and physical characteristics of ecological systems, but on human relationships with nature.
The subject builds on foundational knowledge in ecology and environments. Students will develop an understanding of psychological and sociological theory relevant to conservation decision making, scenarios and practice. They will also develop skills grounded in social science that can support conservation planning based on integrated ecological and social principles. Topics for consideration include:
- ecological, psychological and cultural factors that influence the species and ecosystems that society and managers prioritise for protection;
- cognitive and cultural influences on conservation objectives and strategies;
- the impact of value conflicts on the success of conservation projects;
- the relationship between conservation and the welfare of both animals and humans; and
- the role of tools such as education and engagement, citizen science, citizen informed and participatory decision making in managing conservation challenges.
Intended learning outcomes
At the completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Assess empirical evidence regarding the ways in which psychological and social factors influence biological conservation.
- Investigate and analyse the psychological and sociological factors shaping biodiversity-conservation scenarios and decisions.
- Design practical conservation strategies involving education programs, engagement with management agencies, and participatory decision making.
- High level capacity to critically interpret and apply information from a range of sources
- Ability to synthesise data with other information
- High level written communication
- Develop skills in social research, and particularly those relevant to site analysis
- An ability to apply theory to practice
Last updated: 16 June 2020