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I recently found out that a Linkage Grant proposal I led was successful funded by the Australia Research Council (ARC). It was titled “More than a reserve? Measuring the benefits of private protected areas”.

This is exciting news! It’s an interdisciplinary project looking to measure the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic benefits generated by private protected areas (PPAs) in Australia to both human and non-human beneficiaries. The ARC Linkage Program is designed to fund academic research that is of direct relevance to industry partners, and the partners in this case are the following organisation, who either own or coordinate PPAs:

The research team is as follows:

I’m looking forward to working on a project that combines researchers with a conservation science/ecology background (Wilson, Spindler, Fitzsimons) with a social scientist (Moon) and an environmental economist (Iftekhar). Here is the official description of the project from our funding application:

This project aims to develop a framework for understanding the full suite of benefits derived from privately protected areas in Australia. It will develop and test a new interdisciplinary approach to measure the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic benefits of protected areas to both human and non-human beneficiaries. Outcomes will include a systematic process to effectively gather data, analyse, and report on the full suite of benefits derived from protected areas. The framework will provide a robust evidence base for the range of benefits provided by private protected areas. This will be vital to manage and grow Australia’s protected area network to reduce biodiversity and environmental declines, and meet international commitments.

Here are a list of PPAs managed by the partner organisations that may be used as case studies in the research:

Case study Organisation Location Activities associated with PPA
1. Naree Station Bush Heritage Near Bourke, Western NSW Close engagement with Traditional Custodians, local community engagement, accommodation on site, bird surveys
2. Hamelin Station Bush Heritage Near Geraldton, WA Rare marine stromatolites are present at the site, visits from Australian and international scientists, students, volunteers, an annual science fair during wildflower season, attracting hundreds of visitors, accommodation on site
3. Gluepot Reserve Birdlife Australia 250km Northeast of Adelaide, SA Run primarily by volunteers, eco-tourism program with visitor camping, threatened species conservation
4. Covenant cluster Trust for Nature Cardinia Shire, Southeast of Melbourne, Vic Individual landowner stewardship and management, more than 50 properties with conservation covenants, active community, looking to attract new members and advocating to council for support

The project will also involve employing several new researchers. This includes a Post-Doctoral Research fellow for three years and full time PhD student (both to be based at RMIT University). In addition, there are funds to employ a part-time social science research assistant (to be based at UNSW) and a part-time environmental economics research assistant (to be based at Griffith). I’ve made a separate post specifically about these new positions, and please get in touch if you are interested to find out more about any of them.