PhD Candidate, University of Queensland
An ever-increasing global human population and our need for resources have resulted in conflict between humans and wildlife all over the world. We are now faced with the challenge of managing human-wildlife conflict at the same time as managing for conservation and sustainability. This is an extremely complex problem because an ecosystem is comprised of many components which are interconnected and interactive. In circumstances of human-wildlife conflict, the species of conservation value (i.e. vulnerable, endangered, or responsible for critical ecosystem services) may often be the same species involved in conflict with humans. When this occurs, management of the situation must involve some form of trade-off between conservation objectives, and management of human-wildlife conflict. To that end, it is essential that the complexity and function of the system be understood in order to devise the best possible management strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to use a complex systems approach.
This project involves a review of human-wildlife conflict and conservation problems around the globe, the strategies which have been applied, and which have (or have not) been successful. Modelling methods present a range of powerful tools for the analysis of complex systems such as this, thus a range of modelling approaches will be discussed, with at least one being applied to a specific case study: the dingoes of Fraser Island.
Dingoes and humans (both residents and tourists) share Fraser Island, and this has resulted in numerous negative interactions, including the death of a young boy in 2001. Dingoes are protected on Fraser Island, therefore this circumstance poses a challenging problem for management: to simultaneously achieve dingo conservation, protection of human life, and sustainability of the Fraser Island tourism industry. This project will provide critical information to inform management of Fraser Island by exploring the drivers of human-wildlife conflict on Fraser Island. A range of tools will be utilised to model the landscape, environmental, behavioural and management aspects of the system, thus producing a decision-making framework for the management of Fraser Island as a whole. This project will rely heavily on GIS and modelling tools, and as such has a very strong spatial focus.
Through the study of this specific set of circumstances on Fraser Island, consideration will be taken, and conclusions drawn, on the problems of human-wildlife conflict, conservation, and the potential solutions held within integrated natural resource management science. In particular, the need for a paradigm shift away from isolated conservation towards integrated natural resource management, and the potential such a shift presents for improved ecosystem management, will be discussed.