The Manager and the Egg: Perceptions of the role of corridors in biodiversity management
The idea of using vegetation corridors as a conservation tool is debated by scientists, and potentially misinterpreted by managers. They are used by planners, land managers and the community beyond the safety of evidence and scientific understanding. Using a transdisciplinary research approach, the shared ideas of stakeholders were captured through in depth interviews, and coupled with results from a simple field based predation experiment, fed into recommendations for corridor design and management.
Interviews with 12 key stakeholders in the Hunter Valley provided insight into the way corridor management is approached at the local and regional scale in a development prone environment. Although the opinions of these stakeholders were congruent with those of researchers, managers and planners were often unwilling to suggest universal guidelines for management, instead describing the need to make decisions based on local species, and the landscape the corridor is specific to.
The ecological perspective, that is, the condition of local corridors, was surveyed by means of an artificial nest predation study, in order to assess the relative rates of predation between core habitats, and the corridors that link them up. Employing an adaptive approach, this field study was structured and trialed as a method capable of being undertaken by landholders at the property level, as a means of assessing corridor function at the regional scale.
Although no difference in predation pressure was detected, there was great variability in the results, suggesting that balance between production and conservation in fragmented landscapes needs to be considered at small spatial scales. This supports the view communicated by stakeholders that decisions should be made with reference to local landscapes in order to show appreciation of the complex relationships present in these systems, often not afforded by reductionist science.