Many conservation organisations are striving to undertake evidence-based management to help guide effective management of natural systems. This is where the best available evidence, like ecological research or monitoring data, are used to support management decisions. An important feature of evidence-based management is that it can assist conservation practitioners in making often difficult decisions about when to intervene in a system to prevent undesirable changes.
Decision triggers are one approach that can be useful to help link monitoring data with management decisions. Decision triggers represent a point or zone in the status of a monitored variable indicating when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes (Figure 1).
Decision triggers have received increasing attention from the scientific community, who have suggested that they facilitate more proactive and transparent management of ecosystems. However, there has been little consideration of whether practitioners in management organisations support the adoption of, or even use of decision triggers in practice.
In a recent paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology, my co-authors (Carly Cook and Kelly de Bie) and I share the perspectives of conservation practitioners from protected area management organisations in Australia and New Zealand, on the progress towards using of decision triggers for protected area management. I presented this research in a webinar hosted by CIEEM and the Journal of Applied Ecology, which you can check out here:
We are currently developing detailed guidance to provide practitioners with a clear understanding of how to integrate decision triggers within their organisations’ frameworks. This approach will be tested through a series of case studies to illustrate how decision triggers can be applied to managing species, ecosystems and threatening processes. If you would like to find out more about our upcoming research, and a PhD opportunity within this research programme, please contact Carly Cook.