Abstract Listing by Session

SY6 Human decision-making in conservation and natural resource management: uniting top-down and bottom-up approaches

New Zealand Room 4      Tuesday, December 6th 2011

Organizer(s): Emily Nicholson, Nils Bunnefeld, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Imperial College London


Human behaviour and decision-making are intrinsic parts of conservation and natural resource management (NRM). Both top-down management decisions and the bottom-up responses of local resource users directly affect management effectiveness. Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) provides a framework for including top-down and bottom-up behaviour and accounting for uncertainty in management using models. MSE was developed in fisheries but holds potential for application beyond, in particular in conservation. A much-needed extension of MSE is more explicit incorporation of resource user behaviour, including incentives for complying with rules, and effects of management such as displacement of harvesting to other areas or activities. We bring together researchers from conservation, NRM and fisheries, to present cutting-edge work on human decision-making at multiple levels. We cross disciplinary boundaries to identify ways forward in research and its effective application. We begin with a keynote on the potential for including top-down and bottom-up decisions in MSE beyond fisheries, followed by the latest fisheries research, current terrestrial applications, including resource user behaviour, and how MSE has influenced real-world management. The symposium is directly relevant to the meeting theme: "Engaging society in conservation" requires conservation scientists to include human behaviour directly in decision-making processes as stakeholders and as part of the system.


SY6 .1   14:00  Integrating fisheries approaches and household utility models for improved resource management Milner-Gulland, E.J.*, Imperial College London
Natural resource management is littered with cases of over-exploitation and ineffectual management, leading to loss of both biodiversity and human welfare. Disciplinary boundaries stifle the search for solutions to these issues. I combine the approach of management strategy evaluation, widely applied in fisheries, with household utility models from conservation and development, to produce an integrated framework for evaluating the effectiveness of competing management strategies for harvested resources against a range of performance metrics. I demonstrate the strengths of this approach with a simple model, and use it to examine the effect of manager ignorance of household decisions on resource management effectiveness, and an allocation trade-off between monitoring resource stocks to reduce observation uncertainty and monitoring users to improve compliance. I show that this integrated framework enables management assessments to consider household utility as a direct metric for system performance, and that while utility and resource stock conservation metrics are well aligned, harvest yield is a poor proxy for both, because it is a product of household allocation decisions between alternate livelihood options, rather than an end in itself. This approach has potential far beyond single-species harvesting in situations where managers are in full control, enabling a range of management intervention options to be evaluated within the same framework.
SY6 .2   14:15  MSE in fisheries: current state of the art and what is to come Fulton, EA*, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research
Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) now has a 20-year history in fisheries and is still going strength-strength. Over that period the models used in the MSE have come in many different forms, but it has been rare for the human decision making components to receive as much attention as the dynamics of the biological stocks. This imbalance is beginning to be addressed however, with the current state of the art fully incorporating human behavioural uncertainty in to the models (and other methods) used as the basis of the MSE. Illustrative examples drawn from Australian case histories will highlight how qualitative MSE, agent-based models and social network theory is broadening the processes considered in MSE. MSE in the 21st century is increasingly whole of system – treating the biophysical and anthropogenic worlds with equal attention.
SY6 .3   14:30  Taking MSE to terrestrial wildlife management: linking modelling, monitoring and management Chee, YE*, University of Melbourne ; Wintle, BA, University of Melbourne
Overabundant wildlife can cause economic and ecological damage. Therefore population control typically seeks to maintain species’ abundance within desired control limits. Efficient control requires targets, methods for estimating population size before and after control, and for the next management cycle. Demographic, environmental and model uncertainties complicate these tasks. Monitoring provides critical feedback in the control process, yet examples of integrated monitoring and management are scarce. Using the tenets of MSE, we designed a control framework within which management objectives can be achieved (population maintained within control limits), performance can be demonstrated with adequate precision, and monitoring data obtained in the process used to inform future management. Simulation testing of our integrated monitoring and management algorithm demonstrates that it provides a coherent, flexible, efficient and robust basis for managing population control. Links between management objectives, models and operating rules are explicit and logically integrated, and management objectives can be freely varied. It is also cost and operationally efficient because: (i) it avoids the need for an expensive, dedicated sampling process to estimate population size prior to culling; (ii) a relatively small number of culls produces reasonable population size estimates and (iii) the estimation by removal process enables direct assessment of whether control has been achieved. Lastly, it is robust because even when there is substantial uncertainty about system state and dynamics, the algorithm performs well at keeping the population under control over the duration of the management horizon.
SY6 .4   14:45  The role of human decision-making for the sustainability of trophy hunting Nils Bunnefeld*, Imperial College London
Trophy hunting has been widely advocated as conservation tool and is now operating throughout the world, albeit with varying success. Wildlife populations exploited for trophy hunting are decreasing in many parts of the world. The reason for the failures of trophy hunting might be rooted in the following assumptions that are often made in conservation and management programmes for trophy hunting; perfect implementation through top down control by an all powerful and knowledgeable manager and full compliance with the management plan by hunting companies and local people. However, management plans often disregard both the cultural, social and economic needs of local people and the economic interests of hunting companies. We explore these issues using the example of the Mountain nyala in Ethiopia, and suggest a new framework for management that incorporates human behaviour into management decision-making and that takes into account uncertainty in the process of monitoring and implementation of the management plan. This approach can reveal new insights into the management of trophy hunting under multiple objectives of conservation, economic and social viability and under various forms of uncertainty.
SY6 .5   15:00  Data-poor management of African lion hunting: how to set quotas when the population size is unknown Edwards, CTT*, Imperial College London ; Bunnefeld, N, Imperial College London; Balme, G, Panthera; Milner-Gulland, EJ, Imperial College London
Sustainable management of lion (Panthera leo) hunting requires managers to set quotas restricting annual offtake. This has to take place in the absence of reliable information on the population size and as a consequence quotas are often set in an arbitrary fashion. In this investigation we show how trends in a proximate indicator of lion abundance can be used to set quotas in a sustainable manner. A simple algorithm is developed to convert changes in the number of safari days required to kill a lion into a quota for the following year. This was tested against a simulation model of population dynamics, accounting for both demographic and observational uncertainty, and shown to reliably set quotas at a sustainable level.
SY6 .6   15:15  Modelling the behaviour of local resource users: grazing, the environment, and institutions McAllister, RRJ*, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
A key determinant of the sustainability of natural resource use is the effectiveness of institutions (governance). Critically, institutions play a role in matching the scale of natural resource management to underpinning ecological processes. This issue is strongly demonstrated in dryland systems (arid, semi-arid, dry subhumid), where extreme resource variability across time and space is a pervasive feature. In drylands the environment is not sufficiently fertile, moist or predictable for cropping or other intensive forms of agriculture, yet around 400 million people from around the globe depend on dryland resources for their livelihood, mainly through livestock production. The key to thriving in such climates, where livestock-based livelihoods are tightly coupled with the environment, is in managing variability. In this talk we present an economic model for managing environmental risk. The model, based on modern portfolio theory, unpacks the trade-offs between coping with variability over time and space. This provides a basis for understanding the role of institutions in using dryland natural resources sustainably.
SY6 .7   15:30  MSE in Fisheries: Broadening the scope from single species approaches Dichmont, Cathy*, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research
Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) in fisheries is reasonably well established. They have been used in many contexts, but progress can still be made in incorporating a wider range of components other than just target species, such as the effect of fishing on the seabed, species at risk to fishing, or the ecosystem itself. Furthermore, MSE is generally still technically “high-end” when data poor fisheries are common. In this paper, we use two case studies to demonstrate where MSE has made progress. The first example is one in which an MSE is undertaken that includes target species, economic and biological components, the effects of trawling on the seabed and species at risk to trawling. The results show that a target of Maximum Economic Yield actually benefits fishers, but also the environment. The resultant management strategies have been implemented so these strategies can be robust for management purposes. The second example uses a qualitative method with a series of stakeholder groups to develop social, biological, governance and economic objectives. The same group also developed different management strategies and assessed these semi-quantitatively. Analysis of this data clearly highlighted a management strategy that was rated by all stakeholders as producing the best outcomes. This example shows the power of using a stakeholder process to provide their combined knowledge into developing what is essentially a data poor MSE. These two examples show that MSE can be applied in many domains to develop broader management strategies that are still robust to management implementation.
DISCUSSION - Discussion period commences after all presentations have finished