This paper analyses the complex social and political dynamics of feral horse management policy in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW, and also suggests ways in which it might be made more effective. Cultural, historical and ecological dimensions of horse management are examined through an analysis of the government-led decision-making process, since an aerial cull of horses in October 2000. The paper focuses on challenges of effective community involvement when top-down management processes (e.g., centralized decision-making by government) are imposed. A key question addressed in this paper is who should be the final arbiter and by what process should decisions be made? The paper shows that it is the processes of social interaction in decision-making that determine substantive outcomes, rather than technical scientific details about ecology or biology. Several weaknesses in decision-making were identified. First, inadequacy of community consultation workshops for achieving genuine stakeholder input and satisfaction. Second was a well-intentioned public consultation that resulted in management policy being oversold in support of special interest groups. Third was over-reliance on traditional science which proved ineffective in resolving this value-laden conflict. Improvements in decision-making and management policy can come from using a “policy oriented” approach that brings a systematic focus on complex, interactive ecological, social, political and economic dimensions. Recommendations to improve the decision-making process are offered, including alternative means for community consultation, better integration of science with values, and keeping decision-making power localised (and strategies for doing so). It can be reasonably expected that these recommendations can improve management policy, with a minimum of additional resources.
The politics of feral horse management in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW
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Rosalie Chapple; The politics of feral horse management in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW. Australian Zoologist 1 December 2005; 33 (2): 233–246. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2005.020
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