Achieving ecological integrity in protected areas: evaluating how management actions align with conservation objectives

The overarching aim of my PhD is to identify how ecological integrity can be achieved within protected areas managed for multiple objectives.

In a case study in Namadgi National Park, I evaluated whether the management action of prescribed burning achieved its intended objectives with respect to fuel hazard reduction and biodiversity (reptiles and mammals) across 81 sites stratified by fire history. The majority of prescribe-burnt sites supported higher fuel hazard and lower richness and abundance of reptiles and mammals relative to long-unburnt sites, suggesting the intended objectives of management (fuel hazard reduction and biodiversity conservation) were not being fully met.

To identify how we can better achieve ecological integrity in protected areas such as Namadgi National Park I conducted a global online questionnaire that had 538 respondents from 83 countries and face-to-face interviews of 70 staff from protected areas in five countries. I found that monitoring biodiversity in protected areas is widespread, but few respondents could provide an example of how these data have informed management. My results provide some insight to how we might achieve improved ecological integrity within protected areas.

About the speaker

Kelly joined the ANU as a PhD candidate in 2015. After graduating from UQ with a Bachelor of Applied Science (wildlife science) with first class honors and a university medal, she worked as an ecologist on small mammal and reptile projects on Groote Eylandt and in the Torres Strait islands. Kelly’s PhD research investigates how ecological integrity can be better achieved in protected areas through a global online survey and interviews with protected areas staff worldwide, and an ecological case study in the ACT.