University Of Tasmania
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Biodiversity on the fringe : the (dis)integration of biodiversity in land use planning

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:55 authored by den Exter, N
Legislative frameworks for biodiversity conservation and land use planning are well-established at all scales of government in many parts of the world, however institutional arrangements for implementation are often devolved to the local level. Key drivers of biodiversity loss include native vegetation clearance, fragmentation and degradation of habitat for development. Effective biodiversity conservation therefore relies upon the integration of biodiversity into local land use planning and development control frameworks. This thesis addresses the question: can and does local land use planning achieve effective biodiversity conservation outcomes? To answer this question, a comprehensive appraisal was undertaken of the importance, contribution and effectiveness of land use planning frameworks and instruments in Tasmania in achieving biodiversity conservation. The appraisal was conducted using a mixed-methods, multiple-case study research design, including a collective case study and an instrumental case study. The purpose of the statewide collective case study was to understand the role and relevance of land use planning in biodiversity conservation in Tasmania, including variation between planning instruments and over time. The statewide case study involved: (i) a survey of local government practitioners and semi-structured interviews with key players across sectors, to obtain a range of perspectives on the role and effectiveness of land use planning in biodiversity conservation; (ii) content analysis of all planning schemes, to obtain a detailed understanding of how statutory planning schemes integrate biodiversity, the biodiversity considered and variation between schemes and over time; (iii) spatial data analysis to quantify where biodiversity is subject to assessment, where biodiversity is at risk without consideration and how these vary between planning schemes and in response to planning reform; and, (iv) integrated analysis combining the results of the content analysis and spatial data analysis. The purpose of the instrumental case study of the Kingborough local government area was to evaluate the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation actions at the local scale. This local case study involved: (i) an audit of biodiversity loss and gains resulting from development approvals; (ii) an audit of offsets secured as a condition of development approval; and, (iii) compliance and ecological monitoring of areas protected as a condition of approval. Key findings from the statewide case study demonstrate integration of biodiversity conservation into land use planning in Tasmania is inconsistent, contested and in a state of flux. There are no agreed objectives, surrogates or indicators for biodiversity, policy settings are lacking, decision-support tools are not fit-for-purpose and strategic planning mechanisms are unable to secure biodiversity outcomes. Notwithstanding, the Kingborough case study demonstrates local planning schemes, as the last line of defence, can and do make an important contribution to biodiversity conservation. However, current planning reforms threaten to erode this contribution, as a result of extensive exclusions, weakened performance criteria and restrictions on local variation. Without amendment to planning provisions and legislation, as well as increased resourcing, the move towards a consistent statewide approach will see biodiversity conservation reduced to a procedural consideration, creating an illusion of biodiversity conservation, without requiring or clearly providing for biodiversity conservation outcomes.


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