What Role Does Ecological Research Play in Managing Biodiversity in Protected Areas? Australia’s Oldest National Park as a Case Study

Ross L. Goldingay


How we manage National Parks (protected areas or reserves) for their biodiversity is an issue of current debate. At the centre of this issue is the role of ecological research and its ability to guide reserve management. One may assume that ecological science has sufficient theory and empirical evidence to offer a prescription of how reserves should be managed. I use Royal National Park (Royal NP) as a case study to examine how ecological science should be used to inform biodiversity conservation. Ecological research relating to reserve management can be: i) of generic application to reserve management, ii) specific to the reserve in which it is conducted, and iii) conducted elsewhere but be of relevance due to the circumstances (e.g. species) of another reserve. I outline how such research can be used to inform management actions within Royal NP. I also highlight three big challenges for biodiversity management in Royal NP: i) habitat connectivity, ii) habitat degradation and iii) fire management. A key issue for local managers is finding a mechanism to enable their management to be informed by ecological research in their Park in an ongoing way and to be able to encourage further research. If resolved, Royal NP could provide a model to be used by other protected areas.

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