The Social and Economic Futures Theme identifies and studies policy, planning and institutional measures that support biodiversity conservation at regional scale based on historical analysis of past response, scenarios of alternative arrangements, and structured engagement to discuss and analyse responses to various future scenarios.
They are examining the ‘fitness for purpose’ of the current nature conservation regime using ABS data, social surveys and expert panels, including
- Planning and assessment processes and instruments (IBRA framework and associated CAR reserve prioritising and selection procedures; current and proposed nature conservation provisions of the EPBC Act; state threatened species, environmental assessment, land use planning and protected area legislation; and regional planning systems);
- Institutions that make up the multi-level and polycentric system of nature governance in Australian (national, state/territory, regional, local – public, private, NGO, community-based); and
- Instruments including covenants, management agreements, voluntary wildlife conservation programs and data on the efficacy of MBIs derived from the Economic Futures project.
Having identified limitations, gaps and deficiencies in Stage 1, the team will then suggest potential reforms and innovations. In Stage 2, promising institutional designs, policy approaches and planning instruments will be explored in detail in regional scale case studies by assessing the influence these interventions have on the potential outcomes identified in Ecological Futures theme. The fitness of alternative policy regimes to meet the challenges of landscape-scale conservation will be assessed, as will the institutional structures that support them. Findings from analysing the socio-ecological systems models in the Ecological Futures theme will be compared with those from qualitative scenario planning to provide corroborative evidence. This will allow assessment of institutional designs, policy approaches and planning instruments on future system trajectories. Interviews with key informants from local, regional, state and national institutions will be used to test the credibility of the findings. In Stage 3, regional community surveys will be conducted to assess the likely acceptability and uptake of policy options amongst various landholder segments. In conjunction with socio-economic impact data from the Economic Futures project, this will enable us to identify a range of acceptable and effective policy regime options.