Integrating science into management of ecosystems in the Greater Blue Mountains
Effective management of large protected conservation areas is challenged by political, institutional and environmental complexity and inconsistency. Knowledge generation and its uptake into management are crucial to address these challenges. We reflect on practice at the interface between science and management of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA), which covers approximately 1 million hectares west of Sydney, Australia. Multiple government agencies and other stakeholders are involved in its management, and decision-making is confounded by numerous plans of management and competing values and goals, reflecting the different objectives and responsibilities of stakeholders. To highlight the complexities of the decision-making process for this large area, we draw on the outcomes of a recent collaborative research project and focus on fire regimes and wild-dog control as examples of how existing knowledge is integrated into management. The collaborative research project achieved the objectives of collating and synthesizing biological data for the region; however, transfer of the project's outcomes to management has proved problematic. Reasons attributed to this include lack of clearly defined management objectives to guide research directions and uptake, and scientific information not being made more understandable and accessible. A key role of a local bridging organisation (e.g., the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute) in linking science and management is ensuring that research results with management significance can be effectively transmitted to agencies and that outcomes are explained for nonspecialists as well as more widely distributed. We conclude that improved links between science, policy, and management within an adaptive learning-by-doing framework for the GBMWHA would assist the usefulness and uptake of future research. C 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.