Confirmation of Candidature Seminar: Private Protected Areas and Australia’s National Reserve

Confirmation of Candidature Seminar: Private Protected Areas and Australia’s National Reserve

Thu, 30/01/2014 - 12:00

About the Presenter

Ben McGowan has moved to beautiful Darwin to take up a joint PhD between Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Australian National University (ANU). He moved to Darwin from Melbourne where he completed a masters of science whilst working as an environmental contractor on some pretty interesting projects.  He also likes to be politically engaged and he spends some of his free time working on political projects.  At CDU, Ben is the postgraduate representative on both the University Council and the CDU student association.


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Protected areas form the cornerstone of the world’s conservation efforts.  However, biodiversity loss continues around the world despite rapid increases in protected area coverage.  In Australia, research has shown that this biodiversity loss remains pronounced inside of national parks suggesting that the designation of a protected area, in and of itself, doesn’t necessary equate to better environmental protection.   

Australia’s protected area system has seen recent rapid growth with the amount of terrestrial coverage increasing from 7.8% of Australia’s total landmass to 13.4%, with much of this growth driven by community managed (22.9% of total protected area) and privately managed protected area (6% of total protected area). This rapid growth has occurred at a time when national parks, the traditional forms of protected area in Australia, have been increasingly under attack for either their poor performance or their lack of environmental accountability.  With federal government strategy increasingly willing to support and fund a devolved type of environmental management, and the promotion of greater levels of privately managed tourist developments inside national parks, the move towards a more private type of protected area seems irresistible. 

Yet their remains little research into the consequences of the recent turn towards private conservation and what it might mean for conservation outcomes or for environmental policy more broadly.  In this presentation I outline a research agenda into private protected areas.  I present a research proposal that seeks to understand both the political context under which private protected areas have grown and what the consequences of this move might mean in practice.

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