Forest conservation policy implementation gaps: Consequences for the management of hollow-bearing trees in Australia
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Hollow-bearing trees in native forests and woodlands are significant habitat resources for many Australian fauna but habitat removal, commercial timber harvesting and urban development continue to threaten these ecosystems. Protection for these habitats and their species is purportedly provided for in legislation, policy, and strategic management plans. However, public debate and disagreement surrounding forest management has resulted in the disintegration of national plans as interpreted by states and territories as well as individual stakeholders, resulting in gaps in policy implementation. This paper presents a hierarchical review of the current legislation and policy mechanisms underpinning forest conservation in Australia, with specific attention paid to important habitat features such as hollow-bearing trees. Apart from federal and state legislation acknowledging the importance of hollowbearing trees to biodiversity, sufficient mechanisms to halt the ongoing loss of this resource from Australian landscapes at the local level appear to be lacking. Hollow-bearing tree conservation strategies from 46 local councils in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Queensland were reviewed. Very few (<5%) respondents from local councils across all states indicated that they have specific plans for the conservation and management of hollowbearing trees, highlighting policy implementation gaps at the local level. Furthermore, apparent environmental management strategies and actions rank relatively low on local council priorities. Therefore, a stronger focus on conservation actions towards management of critical habitat features across the landscape supported by robust local, national, and international policy is needed.
Conservation and Society
Copyright remains with the authors 2014. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License (CC BY 2.5) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.
Natural Resource Management
Conservation and Biodiversity