Making smart management decisions even when we are uncertain

How do we use structured decision making and value of information analysis to identify robust management strategies even when there is a lot of uncertainty about the system? QAECO’s Joslin Moore and Mike Runge describe how they did it in a Conservation Biology paper published this week.

Willow management in action on the Bogong High Plains

Willow management in action on the Bogong High Plains

Park managers and researchers undertook a structured decision making process to develop a long term management strategy for invasive willows on the Bogong High Plains in Victoria. The key issue was how much effort to focus on controlling willows in high conservation value bog vegetation and how much to invest in treating seed source populations that might reduce invasion pressure into the future. The analysis showed that the best strategy for realistic budgets was to focus control effort in bogs. Value of information analysis revealed that despite substantial uncertainty regarding future fire frequency (fires facilitate willow establishment) and willow seed dispersal the optimal strategy was robust. The analysis also showed that investment in learning about these parameters would only enable better management decisions if budgets quadrupled. Best of all, the analysis has resulted in a change to the way willows are managed leading to better management outcomes.

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