Secondary Research

I conducted secondary research into a number of converging topics, such as the history and current state of community-led environmental conservation, strategic responses to biodiversity loss, the social impact of conservation and nature-based activities, and environmental volunteer motivation.

I also drew on literature from across a range of disciplines; design, social sciences, health and more - to inform my practice.

This research supplemented my personal experience, as well as the primary research I conducted into the sector.

Key Insights

1. There is systemic underfunding of environmental conservation in New Zealand and Australia

A common pattern that can be observed over the last 50+ years, is that there is not enough funding allocated by primary stewards of our biodiversity (National Governments) to protect and restore biodiversity from the damage which is occurring (Driscoll et al, 2017 [46]; McCarthy et al, 2012 [47]; Waldron et al, 2013 [48]). The philanthropic sector is being pressured to provide additional funding for the needs of environmental causes, however philanthropic money has traditionally not been a stable source of income over time, causing the environmental sector to be in a downward spiral of investment versus the scale of the problem.

2. Biodiversity Loss is accelerating and the window for meaningful action is closing

We are entering a sixth mass extinction, according to the 2015 findings of Ceballos et al [49], who modelled the extinction rates of mammals, birds, vertebrates, and other vertebrates, using conservative and very conservative figures, and still found that the extinction rates far outstrip background extinction levels.

“The evidence is incontrovertible that recent extinction rates are unprecedented in human history and highly unusual in Earth’s history. Our analysis emphasizes that our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years. If the currently elevated extinction pace is allowed to continue, humans will soon (in as little as three human lifetimes) be deprived of many biodiversity benefits.”

Ceballos et al, 2015

The additional research from the likes of Wood et al [50], in the 2000 paper “The Root Causes of Biodiversity Loss” also cite the factors which are combining to the degradation are more complex and powerful than the efforts to prevent it.

3. Community-based Conservation Projects have some critical success factors

Across the world, people and organisations are involved in conservation activities, often with the best intentions. However many of these entities are not able or willing to invest in monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that the energy and resources which are being expended, are having the effect they intend - to protect and restore biodiversity.

Brooks et al [51], found that there were several success factors for community-based conservation projects, regardless of where they were operating in the world. These included project design, community participation and capacity building were critical to the likelihood of success, as well as evaluation which spanned beyond environmental impact, to include social and economic impact.

In their 2016 paper, Peters et al [52] found that in New Zealand, there was a lack of community-based environmental monitoring (CBEM) data, however "significant gains in CBEM could be made by targeting support towards groups managing small areas".

There was support for devolved, partnership-based, dynamic approaches to conservation, in Gavin et al [53] 2018 paper which critiques the global policy-based approaches to conservation, which involve vast resources in attempts to create centralised strategies for tackling biodiversity loss.