The role and use of experts and expert knowledge in spatial conservation prioritization

Galloway, Craig James (2013-03)

Thesis (MScConsEcol)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Decision-making in conservation should be efficient and effective as time and resources are typically limited. Conservation planning is one process by which stakeholders collaboratively make decisions when attempting to ensure the persistence of biodiversity. Spatial prioritization is the activity of applying quantitative data to spatial analysis to select locations for conservation investment and is a distinct process within conservation planning. The use of experts in spatial prioritization, and more generally in conservation planning, is widely accepted and advocated, but there is no general operational model for how best to involve them. Acceptable standards of practice in selecting experts and in applying specific techniques for eliciting expert knowledge need to be developed and tested in different contexts to ensure robust and defensible results of spatial prioritization processes. Although experts and expert knowledge have limitations, including them in spatial prioritization can produce many benefits, such as increased robustness of decisions and time and cost savings. Timeous, decisive, cost-efficient and robust decision-making is essential when attempting to stem the continued loss of biodiversity across the world. Although widely used, very little research has been conducted into the role of experts in spatial prioritization processes. In this research, the role and use of experts and expert knowledge in spatial prioritization was explored through the following processes: 1) a review of the peer-reviewed literature examining the role, and different types, of experts included in spatial prioritization studies (Chapter 2) to identify the patterns of their involvement; 2) a study examining the process and the differences between individual and group expert outputs and outcomes produced from a typical spatial prioritization workshop to provide a baseline against which experts might be identified for future involvement (Chapter 3); and 3) a study examining the knowledge of local community and land management experts and their ability to predict private landowners self-reported attitudes towards conservation, willingness to partner with organizations and behavior relating to conservation, aimed to test if expert knowledge might replace interviews when mapping conservation opportunity (Chapter 4). The main findings of this research are, firstly, that experts primarily contributed to spatial prioritization through mapping of species, habitats and ecosystems (that can be input into spatial prioritization analyses), and specifically also the selection of areas important for implementing conservation action (e.g., priority conservation areas). Secondly, individual experts contributed different expertise to the spatial prioritization processes in which they were involved, sometimes despite being considered experts in the same field. Individual experts differed to each other in the knowledge they contributed, decisions they made, and in the information content and its spatial representation. Groups of experts collaborating to produce the same information were more effective at capturing expert knowledge than individuals. Thirdly, when seeking to map human and social data to inform the mapping of conservation opportunity, experts were unable to reliably score private landowner's attitudes towards conservation, willingness to partner with organizations and behavior relating to conservation. Experts were able though, to provide accurate knowledge on the general attitudes of landowners, the context of the area in which the research was conducted, and the challenges that landowners in the area face. Collectively, this research can be used to inform the development of standards of best practice to ensure the most effective and cost efficient approach to integrating spatial prioritization software with expert knowledge.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Besluitneming in bewaring moet doeltreffend en effektief wees omdat tyd en hulpbronne skaars is. Bewaringsbeplanning is een proses waardeur aandeelhouers gesamentlik besluite kan neem wanneer hul poog om die voortbestaan van biodiversiteit te verseker. Ruimtelike prioritisering verwys na die proses waar kwantitatiewe data toegepas word op ruimtelike analise om areas vir bewaringsbelegging te selekteer. Dit is 'n afsonderlike proses binne bewaringsbeplanning. Die gebruik van deskundiges in die bepaling van ruimtelike prioritisering en meer algemene bewaringsbeplanning word wyd aanvaar en bepleit maar daar is geen algemene operationele model wat bepaal hoe om hul ten beste in te sluit nie. Aanvaarbare standaarde in die praktyk van die seleksie van kundiges en die aanwending van spesifieke tegnieke om kundige kennisstelsels uit te lok moet ontwikkel en getoets word in verskillende kontekste om robuuste en verdedigbare resultate te verseker. Daar is baie voordele verbonde aan die gebruik van deskundiges en kundige kennisstelsels, ten spyte van hul beperkings. Voordele sluit onder andere tyd- en kostebesparings in. Tydige, beslissende, koste-effektiewe en robuuste besluitneming is noodsaaklik wanneer daar gepoog word om die voortdurende wêreldwye verlies aan biodiversiteit te stuit. Al word hul algemeen gebruik is daar nog baie min navorsing gedoen oor die rol van kundiges tydens die proses van ruimtelike prioritisering. Die rol en gebruik van kundiges en kundige kennisstelsels in die bepaling van ruimtelike prioritisering is deur die volgende prosesse ondersoek: 1) 'n Oorsig van portuurbeoordeelde literatuur wat die rol van en verskillende tipes kuniges wat in ruimtelike prioritisering studies ingesluit word, bestudeer (Hoofstuk 2) ten einde die patrone van hul betrokkenheid te identifiseer; 2) 'n studie wat die proses en verskille tussen die insette en uitkomste van individuele en groepe kundiges, soos geproduseer by 'n tipiese ruimtelike prioritisering werkwinkel, bestudeer ten einde 'n grondlyn daar te stel waarteen kundiges vir toekomstige betrokkenheid geïdentifiseer kan word (Hoostuk 3); en 3) 'n bestudering van die kennis van plaaslike gemeenskaps- en grondbestuur kundiges en hul vermoë om privaat grondeienaars se selfgerapporteerde houdings teenoor bewaring, hul bereidwilligheid om met organisasies saam te werk en gedrag wat verband hou met bewaring te voorspel om te toets of kundige kennis onderhoude sal kan vervang tydens die kartering van bewaringsmoontlikhede (Hoofstuk 4). Die vernaamste bevindinge van hierdie navorsing is, ten eerste, dat kundiges se primêre bydrae tot ruimtelike prioritisering plaasvind deur die kartering van spesies, habitats en ekosisteme (wat alles in ruimtelike prioritisering analise vervat kan word), en meer bepaald die seleksie van areas wat belangrik is vir die implementering van bewaringsaksie (bv. prioriteit bewaringsareas). Tweedens, individuele kundiges se bydrae tot die ruimtelike prioritisering prosesse waar hul betrokke was, het verskil, selfs waar hul as kundiges in dieselfde veld beskou word. Individuele kundiges het van mekaar verskil ten opsigte van die kennis wat hul bygedra het, die besluite wat hul geneem het, die inhoud van inligting en die ruimtelike voorstelling daarvan. Groepe kundiges wat saamwerk om dieselfde inligting op te lewer was meer effektief in die vaslegging van kundige kennis as individuele kundiges. Derdens, tydens die soeke na menslike en maatskaplike data om die kartering van bewaringsmoontlikhede in te lig was kundiges nie in staat is om 'n betroubare skatting van privaat grondeienaars se houdings teenoor bewaring, bereidwilligheid om saam met organisasies te werk en gedrag wat verband hou met bewaring te maak nie. Deskundiges kon egter akkurate kennis meedeel ten opsigte van die algemene houdings van grondeienaars, die konteks van die area van navorsing en die uitdagings wat grondeienaars in die spesifieke areas in die gesig staar. Hierdie navorsing kan gesamentlik gebruik word om die ontwikkeling van standaarde van beste praktyk vas te stel om die mees doeltreffende en koste-effektiewe benadering tot die integrasie van ruimtelike prioritisering sagteware met deskundige kennis te verseker.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79815
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