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Governing the Anthropocene: Novel Ecosystems, Transformation and Environmental Policy
 3030603490, 9783030603496

Table of contents :
Preface
Reference
Acknowledgements
Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
1: Transformation and the Anthropocene
Narratives, Framing, and the Anthropocene
Geoscientific Debates: Framing the Evidence
Transformative Framings of the Anthropocene
Governance and the Anthropocene
What Is Governance, and Why Should It Change?
Novel Ecosystems, Governance, and the Anthropocene
A Way Forward?
References
2: Understanding Change and Governing Transformation
Social Science, Biodiversity, and the Anthropocene
The Governance Angle
Where Have We Gone Wrong?
Governance and Effectiveness
Governance: Barrier, Vessel, or Panacea?
Governance as Scaffolding
Understanding Institutions and Institutional Change
The Challenge of Institutional Change
Institutional Change in Context
Transformation, Adaptation, and Capacity
Rising to the Challenge
References
3: Domains of Change in Biodiversity Conservation
Domains of Change
Domain 1: How We Talk about Conservation (Stories)
Domain 2: How We Think About Conservation (Ideas)
Domain 3: How We Decide About Conservation (Objectives)
Domain 4: How We Structure Conservation (Policies)
Domain 5: How We Act (Capacities)
References
4: Novel Decisions and Conservative Frames
A Brief Overview of the Concept
The Geography of Novel Ecosystems
Framing Novel Ecosystems and Narrating Change
Novel Ecosystems and Declining Standards
All Is Not Loss
Biodiversity and Provenance
Novel Grassland Ecosystems and Conservative Frames in Australia
Conserving Grasslands Under Changing Conditions
Multifunctional Landscapes, Expanding Narratives, and Narrow Frames
Beyond Degradation
Expanding the Conservation Toolkit
Limits to Change
Reflecting on the Novel Ecosystem Framing
References
5: Cultural Landscapes and Novel Ecosystems
Can Cultural Ecosystems Be Novel Ecosystems?
Changing Cultures and Shifting Baselines
Desirable States and Cultural Ecosystems
Cultural Severance and Biodiversity Loss
Heathland in the UK
Alvars in Estonia
Satoyama Landscapes in Japan
Lessons for Elsewhere
References
6: Climate Change, Conservation, and Expertise
Conservation and Climate Change
Expert Perceptions on Managing Biodiversity in a Changing Climate
Global Survey of Conservation Experts
Geography and Experience
Current Situation
Changing Management Practice
Managing for What Values?
Management Now and into the Future
Thoughts for the Future
Knowledge Governance and Adaptation
Balancing Precaution and Flexibility
References
7: Contested Concepts, Cultures of Knowledge, and the Chimera of Change
Framing Contests and Transforming Ecosystems
Fire and Transformation
Humans, Wildfire, and Biodiversity
Crisis—And Opportunity?
Catastrophic Bushfires and Contested Knowledge in Australia
Framing the Future
Leveraging the Power of Nature to Confront Societal Challenges
Origins, Principles, and Promises
Hope for the Future, or Chimera of Change?
References
8: Conclusion: Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal
Narrating Novelty
Knowledge, Capacity, and Tools for Change
The Culture of Conservation and the Conservation of Culture
Assumptions, Principles, and Context
Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal
References
Glossary
References
Index

Citation preview

PALGRAVE STUDIES IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND REGULATION

Governing the Anthropocene Novel Ecosystems, Transformation and Environmental Policy

Sarah Clement

Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation

Series Editor Justin Taberham London, UK

The global environment sector is growing rapidly, as is the scale of the issues that face the environment itself. The global population is estimated to exceed 9 billion by 2050. New patterns of consumption threaten natural resources, food and energy security and cause pollution and climate change. Policy makers and investors are responding to this in terms of supporting green technology as well as developing diverse regulatory and policy measures which move society in a more ‘sustainable’ direction. More recently, there have been moves to integrate environmental policy into general policy areas rather than having separate environmental policy. This approach is called Environmental Policy Integration (EPI). The series will focus primarily on summarising present and emerging policy and regulation in an integrated way with a focus on interdisciplinary approaches, where it will fill a current gap in the literature. More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/15053

Sarah Clement

Governing the Anthropocene Novel Ecosystems, Transformation and Environmental Policy

Sarah Clement Department of Geography and Planning University of Liverpool Liverpool, UK

Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation ISBN 978-3-030-60349-6    ISBN 978-3-030-60350-2 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: © Marko Poolamets This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Preface

My motivation to write this book was fairly simple: human impacts are transforming the planet, and changing governance could improve the situation. I also realised that many different people working in biodiversity conservation are concerned about the near-existential threat of these changes on the work that they do, and many of them implicitly understand governance challenges. Yet it seemed to me that there was a disconnect between the natural sciences literature on how ecosystems are changing and the research on governance and transformation. While there has certainly been a cross-fertilisation of ideas between governance and ecological research, much of the governance literature remains impenetrable for many natural scientists, practitioners, and policymakers. There are many reasons for this, but one reason is perhaps that the governance literature is, like so much academic literature, full of jargon. There are many abstract and intertwined concepts that are not always easy to untangle or even relevant for those working in other disciplines and professions. Even though most conservationists can speak at length about governance challenges and have many ideas about how they could be overcome, sorting through the academic writing on the topic to find some practical insights can be a formidable task, just as a foray into the world of climate modelling might be daunting for many governance researchers. v

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I learned this first-hand when I began my doctoral research. I was asked to analyse the institutions and governance systems targeting biodiversity loss and explore ways that Australia could move beyond single-­ species approaches to target whole landscapes and ecosystems. At that point, I had worked in environmental management and policy for a decade, where I gained a wealth of direct experience of governance, both as an environmental scientist in the field and as a social scientist and policy advisor for government agencies. Having assumed that developing a project on institutions and governance would be an easy task, I quickly learned that this would not be the case. I realised that there was no single agreed definition of what governance is, how to study it, or even what form it should take. I could spend months just trying to decipher a single school of thought on what an institution is and how these elusive features of our social world could be studied. As with most academic disciplines, there are many different perspectives and approaches within the governance literature, each with their own specialist language and perspectives that are important for communication within the discipline, but make it difficult for outsiders to understand. My interest in novel ecosystems was also piqued during this time, as it seemed to me that this contested concept could benefit from some of the insight I was gaining in my governance research. There was also a realisation about the subjectivity of nature conservation that arose from my background and experience. I grew up in America and received my environmental science degree there, before leaving to work in Australia with a very particular idea of what wilderness looks like. Although I knew there was no such thing as ‘pristine’ anymore, I still had a sense that nature was something that could be studied as something separate from culture. Those ideas were challenged by my work in biodiversity conservation, as I saw people who strongly believed nature needed active human intervention to survive in many landscapes. Moving to the UK transformed those ideas again, providing a clear example of just how different novelty can be viewed in different contexts. This book draws on the lessons of the governance literature, but seeks to simplify those messages and translate them into practical terms. This is not always possible. The use of specialised concepts from both the natural

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and social sciences is inevitable, but I try to distil these as much as possible and provide a glossary for reference. As you will see, there are also many areas where the research findings are unclear, practical insights are hard to pin down, and further work, across multiple disciplines, is desperately needed. In highlighting these deficiencies in our present understanding, my aim is to speak to a wider audience of individuals and organisations who work in environmental conservation, both within and outside of academia, about the scale of the task that lies ahead, and some of the potential ways changing governance might help us more effectively confront the ecological challenges of the Anthropocene. A great deal has been written about how significant social, economic, and political unrest can provide the conditions for positive policy change. To take advantage of these windows of opportunity, it is important to have a clear message about what the problem is, pragmatic ideas about potential solutions, and a plan for leveraging political conditions in favour of positive social change (Kingdon 1995). As I write this in 2020, it feels as though the world could not be more tumultuous. The year that started with Australia in flames has progressed through a series of remarkable events, including global protests, further fires in the Arctic and America, and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic that sent much of the world (and its economies) into lockdown. The positive impacts on nature and carbon emissions resulting from these lockdown measures have inspired a proliferation of thought pieces about how this will change our relationship to the natural world. There are currently conversations about how to use this opportunity to transition to a more sustainable economy. There has been talk of a ‘green recovery’ and the launching of the UK government’s policy of ‘build back better’, both of which put climate change at the heart of political promises. These declarations are being made as yet another significant change looms—Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, which requires Britain to develop its own environmental governance principles and regulations to fill the gaps. It remains to be seen whether these windows of opportunity and these political promises will lead to a sustainable transformation. While many of the conditions are right, and many people acknowledge the need, intentional social and governance transformations are difficult to

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engineer. There is also a sense that many people are desperate to return to ‘normal’—a desire that might well unravel the hopeful expressions and dreams of a ‘green future’ that have been nurtured amidst the maelstrom of the COVID-19 crisis. Should this reversal not occur, however, the aforementioned need for an understanding of the problems we face— and an appreciation of what is achievable and what is not in answer to these problems—will be as pressing as ever. The chapters ahead present a first step towards fulfilling that need and with it, ideas and provocations that, hopefully, will inspire others to explore further in their own work. Liverpool, UK

Reference Kingdon, J. W. (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers.

Acknowledgements

All books are a collective effort, even if single authored. First and foremost, I need to thank all of the participants in my research. There are hundreds of people who have participated in both large and small ways, and I hope I did your views justice. In particular, I would like to thank the experts who took the time to respond to my thorny questions about scientific concepts, including Professor Richard Hobbs, Professor Chris Thomas, Associate Professor Rachel Standish, Professor Pat Kennedy, Dr. Joe Fontaine, Dr. Phil Zylstra, Professor Richard Bradshaw, and Professor Rob Marrs. It is not an easy thing trying to marry governance and science, and any failure to capture nuance is mine and not yours. To the many colleagues who came to my various talks and seminars, particularly those that heard about these thoughts in an embryonic stage, I appreciate your thoughtful questions that help me develop my thinking. To Marko for the photographs as well as the sort of inspiration that I didn’t even know I needed; nothing is impossible. I appreciate the support of all of my friends during this process, but a special thank you to Christina Berry-Moorcroft for your indefatigable and helpful support. And to Pandora, I cannot overstate your role as morale officer. Finally, to James whose belief in my capacity never fades, and who encouraged me to do this in the first place. As always, you offered support in every way, but

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more than ever in this case you offered an intellectual sounding board, much-needed critique, and you added a bit of levity to the whole operation. All in all, a successful mission. Funding Statement  Funding for the research in the Tasmanian Midlands and Australian Alps was from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program as part of the Landscapes and Policy Research Hub. Research on Nature-Based Solutions is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 730426. The rest of the research was self-funded.

Contents

1 Transformation and the Anthropocene  1 Narratives, Framing, and the Anthropocene    5 Geoscientific Debates: Framing the Evidence    8 Transformative Framings of the Anthropocene   15 Governance and the Anthropocene   19 What Is Governance, and Why Should It Change?   21 Novel Ecosystems, Governance, and the Anthropocene   24 A Way Forward?  26 References  27 2 Understanding Change and Governing Transformation 37 Social Science, Biodiversity, and the Anthropocene   38 The Governance Angle   40 Where Have We Gone Wrong?   42 Governance and Effectiveness   42 Governance: Barrier, Vessel, or Panacea?   45 Governance as Scaffolding   49 Understanding Institutions and Institutional Change   50 The Challenge of Institutional Change   52 Institutional Change in Context   55 Transformation, Adaptation, and Capacity   57 xi

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Rising to the Challenge   62 References  63 3 Domains of Change in Biodiversity Conservation 75 Domains of Change   77 Domain 1: How We Talk about Conservation (Stories)   77 Domain 2: How We Think About Conservation (Ideas)   79 Domain 3: How We Decide About Conservation (Objectives)  80 Domain 4: How We Structure Conservation (Policies)   83 Domain 5: How We Act (Capacities)   85 References  92 4 Novel Decisions and Conservative Frames 97 A Brief Overview of the Concept  100 The Geography of Novel Ecosystems  103 Framing Novel Ecosystems and Narrating Change  106 Novel Ecosystems and Declining Standards  108 All Is Not Loss  111 Biodiversity and Provenance  114 Novel Grassland Ecosystems and Conservative Frames in Australia 118 Conserving Grasslands Under Changing Conditions  120 Multifunctional Landscapes, Expanding Narratives, and Narrow Frames  122 Beyond Degradation  123 Expanding the Conservation Toolkit  125 Limits to Change  130 Reflecting on the Novel Ecosystem Framing  133 References 134 5 Cultural Landscapes and Novel Ecosystems145 Can Cultural Ecosystems Be Novel Ecosystems?  146 Changing Cultures and Shifting Baselines  148 Desirable States and Cultural Ecosystems  153 Cultural Severance and Biodiversity Loss  155

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Heathland in the UK  156 Alvars in Estonia  166 Satoyama Landscapes in Japan  173 Lessons for Elsewhere  177 References 178 6 Climate Change, Conservation, and Expertise187 Conservation and Climate Change  191 Expert Perceptions on Managing Biodiversity in a Changing Climate  194 Global Survey of Conservation Experts  197 Geography and Experience  197 Current Situation  199 Changing Management Practice  201 Managing for What Values?  206 Management Now and into the Future  209 Thoughts for the Future  213 Knowledge Governance and Adaptation  215 Balancing Precaution and Flexibility  218 References 221 7 Contested Concepts, Cultures of Knowledge, and the Chimera of Change229 Framing Contests and Transforming Ecosystems  232 Fire and Transformation  234 Humans, Wildfire, and Biodiversity  235 Crisis—And Opportunity?  237 Catastrophic Bushfires and Contested Knowledge in Australia 239 Framing the Future  248 Leveraging the Power of Nature to Confront Societal Challenges 249 Origins, Principles, and Promises  253 Hope for the Future, or Chimera of Change?  259 References 270

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8 Conclusion: Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal281 Narrating Novelty  282 Knowledge, Capacity, and Tools for Change  283 The Culture of Conservation and the Conservation of Culture  287 Assumptions, Principles, and Context  288 Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal  290 References 290 Glossary293 References297 I ndex347

List of Figures

Fig. 6.1 Current intensity of impacts 199 Fig. 6.2 Perceived impact of climate change on ecological patterns and processes202 Fig. 6.3 Likelihood of supporting the use of non-traditional management options 203 Fig. 6.4 Personal importance of conservation goals for respondents 209 Fig. 6.5 Agreement with statements about management now and into the future 210 Fig. 6.6 Considerations and level of influence on a typical conservation project 213

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List of Tables

Table 1.1 Example of scientific evidence used in defining the Anthropocene11 Table 3.1 Governance principles, definitions, and implications for the Anthropocene81 Table 3.2 Ways to change institutions through institutional work 88 Table 6.1 Summary of survey participants 198 Table 6.2 Effectiveness of current approaches in addressing the top 3 most intense drivers of biodiversity loss 201 Table 6.3 Likelihood of supporting management of novel ecosystems by geographic focus of respondent 204 Table 6.4 Likelihood to support introduction of non-native species that are more likely to survive in a changing climate by geographic focus 205 Table 6.5 Likelihood of supporting primarily social goals in managing biodiversity in a changing climate 208 Table 6.6 Information-related constraints to adaptation 211 Table 6.7 Governance constraints to adaptation 212 Table 7.1 Potential institutional work strategies to enable change in fire governance 250 Table 7.2 Key performance indicators for the Liverpool Urban GreenUP project 261

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1 Transformation and the Anthropocene

Human impacts on natural systems are unprecedented, intensifying, and widespread. While many of the consequences of human actions are plainly evident or at least well publicised, the full extent of anthropogenic causes of environmental decline are more pervasive and extensive than many realise. Now that the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, it is perhaps still possible to think there are areas, away from human population centres, that are untouched by humans. It is tempting (and comforting) to believe there is a wilderness ‘out there’ that remains pristine, providing a refuge for nature. There are certainly refuges, but to say they are pristine would be an overstatement. Estimates of the extent of human impacts vary, but a recent study found up to 95% of the Earth has been modified by humans in some way, primarily through human settlement, agriculture, transportation, natural resource extraction, and energy production (Kennedy et al. 2019). Humans are a relative newcomer to the planet, appearing 5–7 million years ago—just a few seconds before midnight if all of geological time were presented as a 24-hour clock. It was much more recent still that we began to have truly large-scale impacts on the planet and its natural environment, specifically when the first crops were cultivated and cities constructed 10,000  years ago. During © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_1

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this brief time in command of the planet, humans have become a powerful force of change globally, and perhaps even the world’s most powerful pressure in accelerating evolutionary change in other species (Palumbi and Mu 2007). When considered on a geographical scale, our ‘success’ in modifying our environment over such a short period is almost impressive. It is less impressive when considered through the lens of ecological sustainability. Despite many modern metrics of human progress showing improvement, the extent of human impacts jeopardises the functionality of the very systems we rely on for human health and economic prosperity. Although not always evident in the short term, the steady expansion of human footprints across the globe has, inevitably, risked the long-term health of many of the Earth’s systems. With respect to ecosystems, changes can be the result of large-scale activities such as land clearing, but often they are the cumulative result of less-dramatic actions. Known as ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ even with environmental legislation in place, many smaller-scale changes over time have caused a gradual but steady loss of species, habitats, and ecosystem function1 (Dales 2011). The cumulative impacts are substantial, with persistent and pervasive changes leading to degradation of ecosystems at a planetary scale. Most of these changes are gradual, but some have argued that they will also lead to more abrupt changes called ‘tipping points’. Although this idea is being contested and difficult to evidence (Brook et al. 2013; Hillebrand et al. 2020), the idea that we have already exceeded several planetary boundaries that would constitute a ‘safe operating spaces’ for the planet has achieved purchase, particularly for climate change and biodiversity (Rockström et al. 2009a, b; Mace et  al. 2014; Newbold et  al. 2016). The concern is that these steady changes will lead to much more dramatic, abrupt changes. Although this has proven difficult to evidence and anticipate, the concern is that drivers of change can be synergistic and reinforce each other (e.g. through feedback loops). This concept of a ‘safe operating space’ reflects  Ecosystem function has several different meanings in ecology, including ecological processes that sustain an ecological system and the services an ecosystem provides to humans or other organisms (Jax and Setälä 2005). Most often in this book, ‘ecosystem function’ is used to refer to the ecological processes that control the fluxes of energy, nutrients, and organic matter through an environment (e.g. primary production, nutrient cycling) (Cardinale et al. 2012). Ultimately, these are linked to ecosystem services and the benefits ecosystems provide to humans and other organisms. 1

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concerns that there are thresholds that should not be crossed, and that the gradual changes we observe will ultimately lead to changes so significant that we cannot reverse them, leading to even greater challenges for humanity. Although environmental change is often studied by focusing on particular systems (e.g. the hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere), a more human-focused study reminds us that the planet functions as a system (‘the Earth System’2), with social dimensions truly embedded into these dynamics. The latter includes economic drivers, which are social in origin and key influence on human behaviours. Although drivers of environmental change can be natural in origin, the vast majority of environmental change is now caused, either directly or indirectly, by humans. Humans are not just sources of change, but they also are dependent on natural systems and vulnerable to changes in those systems. The Earth System and social systems are mutually vulnerable and mutually dependent (Fraser et al. 2003). Environmental change is not just a concern for ‘environmentalists’ but for all inhabitants of the planet, given this reflexive relationship. Although globally humans have demonstrated remarkable capacity to adapt to change through technology and other innovations, there are natural limits. It is now possible we are approaching thresholds that, once crossed, could lead to cascading effects and even irreversible changes at continental and even planetary scales, with subsequent impact on life and livelihoods (Rockström et al. 2009a, b; Hughes et al. 2013; Steffen et al. 2015). While the goal of most environmental policies is to maintain the stability of ecosystems, this can be problematic for a number of reasons. First, the intuitive notion of stability as it is commonly understood by lay people and policymakers—that is, as something that is relatively static or that ecosystems reach a ‘climax’ state and return to this state following disturbance—is not consistent with modern understandings of ecological stability or ecosystem dynamics more generally. Policy documents and peak environmental bodies also often leave the concept of ecological  The ‘Earth System’ refers to the idea that the Earth ‘behaves as a single, self-regulating system comprised of physical, chemical, biological, and human components’ (Moore III et al. 2001). It is used in discussions of the Anthropocene to emphasise that humans have changed the way this whole system is functioning. 2

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stability ill-defined and rarely capture the multiple components of stability covered in the ecological literature and observed in the ‘real world’. In reality, stability is a multidimensional concept that tries to capture the different aspects of the dynamics of the system and its response to perturbations3 (Donohue et al. 2016). Both disturbances and responses to disturbances are multifaceted and occur at multiple levels (e.g. species, communities), and neither this complexity nor the dynamic nature of ecosystems is captured in most current policies. Even if the goal of stability were to be retained, but with a more modernised approach to understanding and measuring it, achieving that goal is not straightforward, in part because the relationship between human causes and ecological effects is complex. For example, there are delays between cause and effect, which make it challenging to predict and craft responses on political timescales. Disturbances themselves are multidimensional, varying in both type and intensity, and interacting with each other, potentially producing synergistic effects (Kéfi et  al. 2019). Even though most ecological change is from incremental, persistent human impacts that gradually degrade ecosystems, some research suggests that dramatic ‘regime shifts’ can occur, where large, often abrupt and unexpected changes affect biodiversity and ecosystem function (Biggs et  al. 2018). There is even some suggestion that we might be living on borrowed time, and even though many places are changing slowly over longer periods of time, there are dramatic changes that eventually will need to be reckoned with (Hughes et al. 2013). Extinction is a normal feature of the biosphere, but rates are currently 100–1000 times the background extinction rate (Pimm et al. 2014), and there can be large delays between habitat degradation now and extinction of species. There can be substantial delays between losses of habitat and species extinctions, known as extinction debt (Kuussaari et  al. 2009). Although it is thought that we still have some time to repay these debts, we are racking up substantial extinction debts. Without faster and more effective responses, those debts will eventually need to be paid. Knowing  There are at least 163 definitions of stability and 70 different components discussed in the literature (Grimm and Wissel 1997), but perhaps most commonly discussed are asymptotic stability, resilience, resistance, robustness, persistence, and variability from Pimm (1984). 3

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how to predict and prevent dramatic changes is critical, as it can be costly and difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to bring ecosystems back from the brink. While human impacts have steadily expanded and not yet reached natural limits, it seems that we are in an era where we must (finally) confront the reality of a finite world. Globally, the changes to the Earth have been so profound that some scientists have suggested we have left the relative safety and stability of the most recent geologic epoch, the Holocene, and entered into a new epoch known as the ‘Anthropocene’. Environmental change has always been an enduring feature of the Earth, and the ideas that species evolve and systems are dynamic are fundamental to our understanding of natural systems. As the old adage goes, if there is one thing that is constant, it is change. However, the pace and extent of change over the last few centuries have been unusual in the Earth’s history, particularly because they can be attributed to a single species, Homo sapiens. As a term to describe this age marked by human impact, the name Anthropocene is not universally embraced. Some authors, for example, have pointed out the irony and arrogance of humans naming an epoch after themselves (Haraway et al. 2016; Brannen 2019), remarking that it is symbolic of the same human failings that created such widespread destruction in the first place (Moore 2016). Whether or not ‘the Anthropocene’ is the right term is a legitimate debate, but the term does at least serve as a useful shorthand for describing the scale and extent of human impacts on the planet.

Narratives, Framing, and the Anthropocene Despite not being a formal epoch, the term Anthropocene has proven to be immensely useful across disciplines and with reference to a wide range of topics. Over the past two decades, the use of the term Anthropocene as a means of describing the transformative changes to the biosphere caused by humans has increased rapidly across multiple fields in academia and in the popular press. The result of this wide usage has been an abundance of definitions and ways of framing the concept of the Anthropocene, all deployed for different purposes and imbued with politics, values, disciplinary perspectives, normative assumptions, and more.

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This book does not seek to resolve academic debates or controversies about the term ‘Anthropocene’. It does not dwell on the basic question of whether or not we are in the Anthropocene or attempt to provide some sort of universal definition of the Anthropocene. In fact, the reader does not have to believe that we are actually in a new geologic epoch in order to gain insights from its contents. The book focuses on the evidence for the transformative changes happening in both socio-economic and ecologic systems at present, and discusses the role of governance in addressing them. The technical name for this time period is somewhat irrelevant for that purpose. However, the use of the term Anthropocene throughout this book and so prominently in the title does serve an important purpose: framing. Framing and narratives play fundamental roles in shaping information and how it is used in environmental policy and governance. They influence how problems are defined, who and what is considered relevant to causing and resolving those problems, and what solutions are favoured or discounted, and thus shape the outcomes of policy interventions (Shanahan et al. 2011; Clement et al. 2016a, b). Policy narratives are like other stories; they are used to make sense of events and actions and reveal values and beliefs about what should be done and how. Policy narratives need at least one character who is cast as villain, victim, or hero, and has tangible, measurable effects on shaping policy realities (Shanahan et al. 2013). In Anthropocene narratives, there is a general ‘human’ who can be cast as all three of these roles, but the tendency is to shape narratives around one of these three types of categories. These are used to help us make sense of what has passed, what is to come, and what role we should play in where this story goes. Stakeholders who are invested in a policy issue can use narratives to convince others that a particular way of understanding and solving a problem is the right way. Communicating the Anthropocene is not just about relaying facts but also about telling stories. How people talk about the Anthropocene may draw on scientific evidence, but such data will be weaved into a story, with a plot and a sequence of events, including dramatic moments, symbols, and characters, as well as a central moral (McBeth et  al. 2010). Irrespective of the formal designation of the Anthropocene, many stories of the Anthropocene are already being told,

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complete with ideas about how we got here, who is responsible, who might ‘save’ us, what we should do about the current state of affairs, and what might come next. These stories are inevitably influential in how we govern the challenges of the Anthropocene. Framing is equally important for governance as a linguistic tool, where particular aspects of that story are elevated or made more salient to the audience. Frames are vitally important because they are used by everyone to organise thoughts. They are central to our understanding and perception of reality and can influence our identity and conduct (Goffman 1974). The implications are that framing influences what is and is not on the agenda, and ultimately, the translation of facts, values, and interests into policy (Fünfgeld and McEvoy 2014). Framing influences how problems are defined, how causal agents (human or non-human) and their effects are analysed, how the moral of the story is evaluated, and what remedies are suggested (Entman 1993). While the evidence for the Anthropocene may be measured empirically, when translated into governance and policy arenas, consideration of why, who, how, and where problems have emerged involves framing. Debates over environmental policy are often the result of conflicting framings of problems and can contribute to policy failure (Paloniemi et al. 2012; Freitag 2014). While the formal definition of the Anthropocene is important for scientific precision, it is not the sole driver of how the discussion of its challenges and solutions are narrated and framed, both formally in law and policy and informally in practice. As we will see throughout this book, science is often sidelined in decision-making, much to the frustration of scientists. While scientific evidence is important, it is at least equally important to understand how terms are used and understood by people who are involved in confronting the key challenges of the Anthropocene, and how that ultimately translates to policy and action (or inaction). The debates about whether we are in a new epoch, why and how we got here, and what this says about humanity underscore various narratives that have emerged about the Anthropocene. Reflecting on these briefly can provide insight into what aspects are considered most relevant for confronting the linked social and ecological challenges of the Anthropocene that are the focus of this book. Subsequent chapters explore the ways that these challenges play out across different themes,

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focusing on transforming ecosystem, and explore how they are understood in different places. This also means that, rather than adopting a single framing of the Anthropocene or the many challenges it presents, it is more productive to confront the multiple ways in which these challenges are understood, interpreted, and addressed by stakeholders involved in causing or addressing the many causes of environmental problems. The reasons it is important are simple: the Anthropocene is complex and ill-structured, and so too are the reasons for environmental decline. Policymakers prefer problems that are structured and, as such, tend to simplify environmental challenges. In doing so, they can ironically make problems more intractable, not less, by neglecting the perspectives, interests, and contributions of many important stakeholders, which can lead to more conflict and gridlock (Hisschemöller and Hoppe 1995). One of the many ways to remedy this is through governance reform which, as this book will demonstrate, requires us to reflect on what the problems are that we are trying to address. Analysing narratives and framing are central to this.

Geoscientific Debates: Framing the Evidence Naming a geologic epoch is not normally an activity associated with politics, but rather scientific debate and collation of substantial evidence in peer-reviewed literature and institutional reports. Yet the term ‘Anthropocene’, and even the scientific process of defining it, is surrounded by controversy and has come to mean quite a bit more than a new geologic epoch. Superficially, it is still possible to offer a fairly straightforward definition of the Anthropocene as a geologic epoch marked by humans as the dominant cause of changes to the Earth System, as evidenced by enduring fingerprints of human activity that can be identified and measured in geologic strata (Lewis and Maslin 2015b). However, behind this simple statement, there is some controversy within the scientific community, with implications not just for formal definitions of the Anthropocene but ultimately also for ideas about how society should respond to the challenges that characterise this new epoch.

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Setting aside debates about the merits of, and motivations for, choosing to name this epoch after ourselves, the notion that we are living in a human-centred epoch is certainly not new or without scientific basis. The term Anthropocene and similar variations (e.g. Anthropozoic, Age of Man) had been used since the nineteenth century (Lewis and Maslin 2015b), before being popularised in the early 2000s by atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen, who compellingly argued that we needed a term that more accurately described the human-dominated era in which we live (Crutzen 2002). Epochs are generally defined in part by the emergence of new species. Although the term Holocene, when it was coined, was originally associated with the emergence of humans, it has come to mean something more mundane among scientists, that is, the current warm and stable interglacial period (Lewis and Maslin 2018). Although it has not been without controversy, the geological community agreed that Crutzen’s assertions were worth investigating, establishing an Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) as a subgroup of their peak international bodies and charging it with the task of investigating the evidence for biological and chemical changes in sediments that can be used to define the so-called ‘golden spike’.4 Although the term Anthropocene is used widely in provocations about the state of the planet, the scientific process of defining it is fairly bureaucratic, with the proposal made via a small group of experts on the AWG and ratified by a network of international committees (Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy 2019). If such a spike is agreed, then the Anthropocene could become an official part of the Geologic Time Scale, marking the date when the Earth officially moved into a new state (Lewis and Maslin 2015b). As a date has not yet been agreed, formally we are still in the Holocene, but this has not slowed the use of the term. For many, the Anthropocene has become a useful, or at least provocative, way of describing the way humans have transformed the natural world.

 A golden spike, also known as a Global Stratotype Section and Point, marks a change in the Earth System in stratigraphic material (e.g. rock, sediment, glacier ice). A date can also be agreed by committee (called a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age), but the golden spike is the preferred marker (Lewis and Maslin 2015b). For an accessible and more detailed discussion on the history, science, and politics of defining the Anthropocene, see Lewis and Maslin (2018). 4

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For the Anthropocene to have a formally agreed definition, it needs to have a start date, and that date needs to be supported by evidence. The formal process of establishing the date of the ‘golden spike’ involves an evaluation of scientific evidence by experts through peak international geological committees. There is a growing body of literature in which evidence is being amassed to support different start dates. The evidence for dramatic human impacts is certainly there (Table 1.1). Evidence from a wide range of disciplines supports the idea that the current scale and intensity of environmental change is unprecedented, driven largely by human actions. These impacts can be readily measured and evidenced across a wide range of examples, whether it be greatly accelerated rates of species extinction, sharp increases in atmospheric carbon concentrations, alteration of nitrogen or phosphorus cycles, nuclear fallout, deposition of plastic and other novel materials, or increased rates of soil erosion—the evidence is as wide-reaching as it is irrefutable (Waters et al. 2016). While the body of evidence generally converges to highlight the dramatic consequences of human actions, there are nonetheless scientific debates about whether all of these measures are relevant to defining a geologic epoch. For the purposes of governance, knowing when the Anthropocene started is perhaps the least important debate because it tells us very little about what we should do about it. Still, it can have demonstrable impacts on environmental management. In particular, for this book, it is useful to understand the timescales involved in these changes, as the issue of what historical baseline we should strive for is central to many of the themes in this book. At this point, there seems to be an emerging consensus on when the Anthropocene started, which is essential for codifying the epoch in the Geologic Time Scale. The AWG has put forward a proposal that marks the mid-twentieth century, and many authors have published evidence in agreement with this (Steffen et  al. 2015; Zalasiewicz et al. 2015; Waters et  al. 2016; Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy 2019). There is some debate on this point, with some authors suggesting the date is too late, as it fails to capture critically important historical human impacts, such as the Industrial Revolution. Initial proposals had in fact suggested an earlier date of 1750 to capture all of the Industrial Revolution and to coincide with an evident ‘Great Acceleration’ of

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Table 1.1  Example of scientific evidence used in defining the Anthropocene Example impacts

Selected evidence

Deposition of man-materials

Human-produced trace fossils and biohorizons on land and in marine sediments, with materials such as aluminium, concrete, and plastics prevalent Increase in particulates from combustion

Increased consumption of fossil fuels Changes in nutrient cycling (e.g. from fertilisers) Changes in atmospheric carbon

Increase in nitrogen and phosphorus signatures in ice, lake strata, and soils

Increases in CO2 and CH4 emissions to levels not seen for at least 800,000 years (starts in 1750 with Industrial Revolution, more markedly in 1950s). Earlier changes in carbon may also be considered, e.g. the ‘Orbis Spike’ in 1610, where abandonment of farmland following the death of 50 million humans after Europeans arrived in the Americas led to a dip in atmospheric CO2 from increases in carbon sequestration; increases in carbon 8000 years ago from deforestation or 5000 years ago from farming are sometimes also considered Global changes to This category of evidence is extensive, including an increase in average global temperatures (0.85°C), the climate sea-level rise of 20 cm in the last 100 years, changes in system precipitation patterns, changes in weather patterns (including increases in extreme weather events), glacial retreat, and thinning of sea ice Use of nuclear Radionuclide fallout, which peaked in 1964, after the weapons Partial Test Ban Treaty century (‘bomb spike’) Loss of Potential ‘Sixth Mass Extinction Event’ if current rates biodiversity continue, as measured by extinctions at 100–1000 times the background rate since 1500, further increase from the nineteenth century. Species removals are non-­random and tend to be larger animals targeted by humans Global movement ‘The Great Homogenization’: unprecedented large-scale of species movement of species across continents leading to a small number of species being extraordinarily common globally. The emergence of new hybrid species is also sometimes used as a marker (continued)

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Table 1.1 (continued) Example impacts

Selected evidence

Increase in human-caused contamination

Geochemical signatures—polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticide residues, lead (1945–50)

Sources: (Ruddiman 2003; Ehlers and Krafft 2006; Steffen et  al. 2007; Barnosky 2014; IPCC 2014; Pimm et al. 2014; Lewis and Maslin 2015b; Waters et al. 2016)

socio-economic activity that affected planetary systems (Crutzen 2002). Others have suggested a start date as early as 1610 because this captures the effects of increasing global movement of humans between continents. In particular, the post-1492 colonisation of the Americas, which brought disease, the deaths of 50 million people, and the subsequent abandonment of agricultural land, actually decreased atmospheric CO2 (Lewis and Maslin 2015a). Although pre-European colonisation is often still used as a benchmark for ‘ideal’ ecosystem states in restoration, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve it. Within the Anthropocene debate, the idea that these earlier dates are golden spikes seems contentious, prompting a number of published rebuttals (c.f. Hamilton 2015a; Dalby 2016). Still, even earlier dates have been proposed, including 5000–8000  years ago, to coincide with forest clearing and agriculture, which increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere (Ruddiman 2003). At this point, however, it seems likely that the mid-twentieth-century date will prevail in formal proposals, given it has favour among the AWG, which will make its recommendation to key scientific bodies.5 Whether it will be formalised or not is still an open question, but it is worth bearing this consensus date in mind as we progress through the book, as many conservation goals aim for a time well before this. This bureaucratic process of framing what the Anthropocene ‘means’ in a technical sense obscures several more fundamental debates. It may seem a fairly straightforward task of combing through evidence and  The AWG’s proposal will need agreement from a supermajority (60%) of its parent bodies (i.e. the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy and the International Commission on Stratigraphy). This then will ultimately need to be ratified by the Executive Committee of geology’s peak body, the International Union of Geological Sciences. 5

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seeking general consensus. While consensus over the start date is emerging among those involved, the process and its implications for science are more controversial than at first glance. Even in science, objective evidence is interpreted, applied, and combined differently when making decisions about what constitutes the Anthropocene. Even technical definitions are not just bland summaries of evidence but built out of many normative decisions, such as what evidence should be included (or ignored), over what time period, and how different measures of human impact should be weighted. The increasing popularity of the term Anthropocene, and the process of formally defining it, has triggered a number of debates, including how epochs should be defined, what sort of event can define a ‘golden spike’, and the ways in which this debate marks a paradigm shift for environmental science and Earth System Science (c.f. (Hamilton 2015a; Maslin and Lewis 2015; Barry and Maslin 2016). While there is certainly an emerging consensus about what the Anthropocene is in a technical sense, not everyone is working with the same framework. There are evident disagreements in the scientific community, with some believing that to even propose an epoch so recent is utterly at odds with the norms and principles of stratigraphic practice (c.f. Autin and Holbrook 2012), and others taking the view that the Anthropocene discussion focuses too much on recent evidence and arbitrarily ignores earlier evidence of human impacts (c.f. Zuber-Skerritt and Perry 2002; Ruddiman et al. 2015). There are also open questions about what would constitute a transparent framework and process for defining the Anthropocene and whether the AWG is using such criteria (Lewis and Maslin 2015a). Even if the evidence can be observed, measured, and quantified, not everything that is counted is universally agreed as evidence that ‘counts’ in defining the Anthropocene. These same themes emerge again in discussions around biodiversity, novel ecosystems, and many other topics throughout this book. Frames in geoscientific discussions are shaped in part by who is involved in evaluating evidence, as it influences what evidence is considered relevant (and over what time period). Given the dominant role of many European and North American countries in creating the Anthropocene, the composition of the AWG has been questioned because it consists of a relatively small number of experts from these very regions

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(Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy 2019), in a fairly homogenous group comprised mainly of men (Raworth 2014). The lack of transparency and diversity in selecting members, combined with the lack of a transparent framework for decision-making, has led to criticisms of the bias inherent in the process (Lewis and Maslin 2018). It is also one driver behind the debate over ‘decolonising the Anthropocene’, which suggests the emerging story about when the Anthropocene started and how the start date ignores crucial evidence from earlier time periods that have significantly shaped many of the Earth’s systems. In particular, the largescale movement of people, goods, and species across suggest a start date for the Anthropocene that might more closely align with colonisation in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Lightfoot et al. 2013), or the subsequent abandonment of agricultural land and revegetation that led to an atmospheric carbon dip in the seventeenth century (Lewis and Maslin 2015b). This debate illustrates another recurring theme in the pages that follow: framing, science, and governance are intertwined and difficult to untangle. Although the evidence is central to what is being discussed, debates about this evidence inevitably involve discussions about who decides, why decisions are made, and how those decisions are made, all of which are underpinned by values. Debates about how the Anthropocene concept is framed are linked to broader paradigm shifts in some disciplines, which affect how we approach solving its many challenges. It could be that the debate itself is helping shift underlying paradigms in natural sciences (Hamilton 2016), although it is perhaps more likely exposing changes that have already occurred (Maslin and Lewis 2015). Although there is still some dissent on technical points, I would tend to favour the latter interpretation. Paradigms have, and will always, shift over time in science. Some scientists still may contend that no definition of the Anthropocene could be scientifically robust, calling into question the veracity of defining an epoch marked by human impacts and not by other measures (e.g. the emergence of new species); this debate is not new. Similar debates about whether human impacts can define an epoch also occurred when defining the Holocene (Steffen et al. 2011; Lewis and Maslin 2018). Overall, it seems that within the natural sciences literature on the Anthropocene, most of the focus is on when and how, and not if at this stage. Even for

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those who question the veracity of defining the current epoch based on a relatively short period of time, there is at least fairly widespread acknowledgement that it has become an entrenched feature of the environmental lexicon. Given that the Anthropocene is here, we are still left with the question: what should we do about it?

Transformative Framings of the Anthropocene Even for those who accepted that the Anthropocene is an appropriate way to define the present, debate remains over what it means for the ways in which we respond to change. For some, the Anthropocene framing can be used simply as a new way of discussing environmental decline, but it also has the potential to transform the way we think about our relationship to the planet, as well as how and why we ‘do’ conservation and restoration. While scientific framings of the Anthropocene fundamentally focus on factual accounts of observed human-induced changes, they draw on different aspects of this evidence to tell a story about when and how the Anthropocene began and what it means for humanity. Even peer-reviewed literature on the topic ventures into debates about the merits of the term and whether it is or is not useful, exploring normative ideas about who we are, who we might become, and what our responsibilities are as a species. The notion that the Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene is increasingly supported by a great deal of evidence (Waters et al. 2016), but acknowledging the permanence of these impacts over geologic timescales has significant implications. It elevates the status of humans from just another species to a driver of permanent planetary change, which implies responsibility for remedying the problems of the Anthropocene. Even if the facts are agreed, what follows are even more questions about what the science means for those who inhabit the Anthropocene. This includes fundamental moral and legal questions about whose responsibility it is to act, considering that the epoch affects all of humanity but has emerged from the actions of a relatively small subset of humans, historically and at present (Dalby 2016). The term has become central to political and philosophical debates about our relationship to the Earth:

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The Anthropocene is now more than a proposed new geological epoch that marks the transformation of the Earth System wrought by humanity; it has become a contentious term and a lightning rod for political and philosophical arguments about what needs to be done, the future of humanity, the potential of technology and the prospects for civilization. (Dalby 2016, p. 34)

Such controversies cannot be avoided simply by not formally defining the Anthropocene either, especially as the evidence is there, so choosing to do nothing is a political act (Lewis and Maslin 2015a). The science of the Anthropocene can be framed in different ways and wielded to tell different versions of what the future has in store and what we should do about it. The way these facts are framed tends to favour either a pessimistic or an optimistic story about the future. There are perhaps three (Lövbrand et al. 2020), five (Wright et al. 2018), or maybe seven (Dibley 2012) different discourses to be found in social science writings on the Anthropocene, likely more. In different ways they paint either hopeful or grim versions of the future. Although there are shades of grey, many narratives fall into the category of ‘Anthropocene as crisis’ ‘Anthropocene as opportunity’ (Lundershausen 2019). The interesting feature of these debates is that they all draw on similar facts about the state of the planet, but these are used to narrate different stories about what it means for the future of humanity and the Earth System. In part, this is due to different assumptions about whether humanity will change course and to what extent it is even possible to remedy some of the environmental damage that has already been done. There are identifiably ‘good’, ‘bad’, and perhaps even an ‘ugly’ ways of framing the Anthropocene (Dalby 2016). In the first instance, humanity’s past successes in progressively expanding the natural limits of the planet are leveraged to paint an optimistic future where humans are able to innovate their way to a ‘good’ (or at least better) Anthropocene and also become better planetary stewards (Ellis 2011). Thus far, over 500 ‘seeds of a good Anthropocene’ have been documented with the aim to counteract the dystopian narratives of the future (Seeds of a Good Anthropocene 2019). These seeds are initiatives that improve social, ecological, or economic dynamics within a particular

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context, but may grow and change to potentially foster transformative changes in the future and in other places (Bennett et al. 2016). This view places faith in human capacities to overcome the environmental challenges we face, arguing that natural limits have already been altered so dramatically that humans have managed to decouple economic growth and human well-being from environmental destruction, as succinctly summarised in an ‘ecomodernist manifesto’ (Asafu-Adjaye et al. 2015). In their version of the story, the plot is less grim; and humans may be villains, but they are also heroes who can redeem themselves. The important role of human innovation in steadily expanding the natural limits of the planet is emphasised in such narratives, where humanity has made heroic advances in steadily decoupling economic growth and improved quality of life from damage to the Earth System. This, it is argued, is the reason why human well-being has, by many measures, moved in a positive direction despite the gradual erosion of the natural systems on which we depend, and they believe this trajectory can (and will) continue. The optimism of the ecomodernists has been contrasted with the ‘ecopessimists’ who emphasise the steady march towards a ‘bad’ Anthropocene, given current trajectories and future projections. This framing focuses on the mounting evidence of persistent and continued environmental destruction, suggesting not just scepticism that we will course correct but also that we are locked into patterns that leave us with little choice but between ‘bad’ and ‘less bad’ versions of the future (Hamilton 2015b). The ‘ugly’ version of the Anthropocene draws attention to the political fallout that inevitably arise from either framing, and suggests a number of relevant considerations for both optimists and pessimists. It is not really ‘ugly’ but rather complex, unpredictable, and uncomfortable; a time when our normal assumptions and ways of knowing may no longer hold. Rather than calling it ‘ugly’, it is perhaps more fairly described as ‘the entangled’ narrative, where the fates of human and non-human societies are deeply intertwined (Lövbrand et  al. 2020). Rather than seeing the Anthropocene as a problem that can be solved or reversed, this version of events sees this as a time where barriers between humans and the natural world are irreparably broken down. This means turning our minds to how to peacefully coexist, if such a thing is still possible.

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It is in this narrative where tricky questions about ethics arise. Acceptance of the Anthropocene raises not just questions about what to do about it, but also differential responsibility. The concept of common but differentiated responsibility is embedded in international environmental law, most notably for climate change. It seeks to make environmental governance more equitable by capturing the idea that states have varied in terms of their historic and present impacts, as well as their capacity to respond to common environmental problems (Weisslitz 2002). While the principle is now being challenged in some quarters, the basic premise has not gone away. The naming of an epoch, after all, Homo sapiens might imply that all humans are equally responsible, but it is not really appropriate to invoke a single ‘we’ when a relatively small number of humans have historically been responsible for most environmental degradation (Dalby 2016). Many of these questions that emerge from these debates are about decision-making, responsibility, accountability, fairness, and human capacity to intervene. In short, they are governance questions. Similarly, it is possible to find both strands of hope and grief in Anthropocene narratives. The Anthropocene has been described as marking the ‘end of nature’ (McGibben 1989), in the sense that there are no longer areas untouched by humans. If this is what is meant by ‘wilderness’, then there are vanishingly small areas of the planet that qualify as such. There is no reason to distinguish between human and natural environments, rather just different degrees of human influence. The world, in this view, is said to consist of ‘anthromes’ rather than biomes (Ellis et al. 2010; Ellis 2011; Hailwood 2016). The Anthropocene draws attention to the full extent of human impacts, but also ties the fate of humanity to the fate of our planet (Lövbrand et al. 2020). For those who are engaged in biodiversity conservation, the psychological effect of constantly encountering the loss of species and the degradation of ecosystems seems to look a lot like grieving (Hobbs 2013). How one reacts to the realities of the Anthropocene may depend on what stage of grief they are in. People may also grieve for the idea of what we thought our future might be, or grieve for the idea of a stable, pristine past, which is now gone (Head 2016). It also affects who is cast as villain or hero in Anthropocene narratives. Those who feel threatened may underplay their power and exaggerate the

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power of the ‘other’ group—who are the villains—as a strategy (Shanahan et al. 2013). With respect to the Anthropocene, these villains are particularly powerful systems rather than specific people, with capitalist systems and the Western world as villains. These are not systems that can be readily toppled, so it is no surprise that such villains dominate the Anthropocene as crisis narratives. Hope can be seen in those that write about the ingenuity of the human species and how it so often prevails, highlighting past and present clever solutions to environmental challenges and assuring readers that a better version of the Anthropocene is within our grasp (Asafu-Adjaye et  al. 2015; Dalby 2016). When stories want to elevate hope, they tend to elevate heroes in the tale, spinning the narrator as the hero and exaggerating their ability to solve it (Shanahan et al. 2013). This is certainly evident in some of the ecomodernist literature, where human ingenuity will save us, at least from the more disastrous predictions in the Anthropocene. There is also a more nuanced, pragmatic version of the Anthropocene debate that rests on a less inspirational brand of hope that ‘savours the life and the world we have, not the world as we wish it to be’ (Head 2016, p. 11). Hope here can also capture the idea that the changes we observe in ecosystems may not be like those of the past, but that does not make them inherently good or bad—just different. It then requires different ways of acting collectively, akin to the ‘entangled’ narrative above. Perhaps it is at the end stage of the grieving process that some have concluded that there is no going back to the past, but there may be more balanced ways of moving forward as societies on this human-made planet.

Governance and the Anthropocene Governance can play an important role in more effectively confronting the challenges of this new epoch and moving society towards a good (or at least better) version of the Anthropocene. Fundamentally, the function of governance is to steer society towards socially desirable outcomes and away from undesirable outcomes (Young 2017). The Anthropocene presents many paradoxes, and perhaps the most challenging of these is that it is an epoch characterised by human control of the environment, and yet

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so much of how the Earth is changing is out of our control (Head 2016). While there are limits on our capacity to intervene, the need to correct course has become more and more pressing. Governance is often described as a means to the end of this course correction—the very word governance is rooted in a Greek term meaning to ‘steer’ (Ison 2016). Although the steering metaphor is controversial among some social scientists because it seems to imply control, this need not be the case, nor is it the intent for most governance scholars. Rather, governance ‘steers’ society in the sense that it provides a means to solve issues that cannot be solved individually, providing a forum to make and implement decisions to that end (Peters 2012). Although the direction of travel may be agreed, as in any system, the dynamics once we set off are emergent. A government can decide, for example, to conserve a particular species and suggest or prescribe ways to do so, but how people work together to achieve this and how the species responds to our intervention are not fully within our control. The Anthropocene requires us to critically scrutinise the course we are on and whether we need to change that course. This must involve critical scrutiny of the objectives of environmental interventions, as well as an assessment of whether existing understandings, practices, and governance systems are fit for the purpose of addressing environmental challenges in this new era (Ison 2016). It also requires us to examine and reconsider our relationship to biophysical systems, given that the Anthropocene sheds light on the pervasive impacts of humans on the environment. If we want to strive towards a different sort of Anthropocene than the one we find ourselves, this requires us to fundamentally reconsider how we live, which includes how we make decisions. These are not just decisions about what to do differently, but also what we need to do more of, what we need to do less of, and, perhaps most importantly, what to stop doing. Considering the role of governance is thus a crucial step in deciding ‘what Anthropocene’ we want to strive towards and identifying possible pathways that will lead us there. This will necessarily be context-­dependent because the problems of the Anthropocene vary for a whole host of reasons, including key causes and effects. Effective governance systems help society adapt to environmental change as well as target some of the fundamental challenges of Anthropocene. But effectiveness is also

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context-dependent, as there is unlikely to be universal consensus on what constitutes a ‘desirable future’, so the objectives and instruments of governance also cannot be universal. While governance can be viewed entirely as an instrument to help mitigate human impacts on the environment and help society adapt to environmental change, its influence can be more transformative. The ways we understand environmental problems and the ways in which we seek to solve them are deeply embedded in governance systems. In many cases, this understanding may need to change to reflect a new normal or to intentionally move, incrementally or radically, towards new directions. It is perhaps another paradox of the Anthropocene that this could mean both changes that accept some of the new realities of this epoch and seeking to fundamentally change the dynamics of human-environment relations so as to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Neither is an easier task, and it is important to recognise that changing governance is not a panacea (Chap. 2). Our capacity to control the way the Earth’s systems behave is limited, but it is also true that altering the way we act collectively is essential in an epoch marked by collectively damaging behaviours.

What Is Governance, and Why Should It Change? Governance is one way of changing human behaviour, but what is governance? Governance is described variously in the literature as both a system and a process. It encompasses ideas about who decides, how decisions are made, and where and why we intervene. Governance can be conceived of quite narrowly (e.g. governance of an organisation), but governance in the Anthropocene must be considered more broadly than that. Governance in general terms refers to any system of social coordination for resolving common challenges (McGinnis and Ostrom 1996; Lee 2003), such as a system to target the loss of biodiversity or climate change. More specifically, governance considers how individuals and organisations interact, how they are organised and make decisions, and the ways in which they intervene to address these challenges (Young 2008; Armitage and Plummer 2010; Clement et  al. 2015). Governance is ­relevant across spatial scales (e.g. site, ecosystem, bioregion) and levels

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(e.g. local, regional, state, national, international). The interplay between those different aspects also influences the dynamics of decision-making and the outcomes for society and the environment. Governance systems also encompass institutions, which are the rules, strategies, and norms that guide actor6 behaviour (Ostrom 2005). Institutions are the fundamental building blocks of governance because they structure decision-making and assign roles and responsibilities to individuals and organisations. Institutions structure, enable, and constrain human behaviour (Hodgson 2006), and governance refers to the process by which institutions are formed, applied, interpreted, and reformed (McGinnis and Ostrom 2014). They can be formal, manifesting as policies, rules, constitutions, laws, plans, and notions enshrined ‘on paper’. Crucially, they can also be unwritten and informal, manifesting as norms, beliefs, traditions, and customs (Crawford and Ostrom 1995; Healey 2006; Nelson et al. 2007; Scott 2014). The unspoken and often hidden nature of institutions is important because, once we start to understand institutions, we can really begin to understand the inner workings of governance. To avoid the worst-case scenarios that arise from the Anthropocene and stabilise the Earth System, we need to change behaviour, governance, and values (Steffen et  al. 2018). The deeply embedded nature of institutions, and their role in shaping human behaviour, is why analysing them is so valuable for understanding the causes of environmental degradation and deciding on the ways we want to intervene. Making sense of institutions can help us make sense of why we act in the ways that we do, although that does not necessarily mean it is easy to foster change (Chap. 2). Although the tools of governance are often narrowly targeted, the Anthropocene is best understood by looking across whole systems of governance. Most environmental problems are interconnected, and the human impacts that have helped propel us from the relatively stable Holocene into the unstable Anthropocene arise from a complex web of institutional drivers and influences. Although it is challenging to study the full range of customs and institutions that may contribute to  Actors encompass all individuals, organisations, and networks that are relevant for causing or solving environmental problems. 6

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environmental degradation, it is essential if we are to understand how we got to this point and where we should go from here. A focus on the governance systems targeting biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline, for example, should include interlinked areas of policy (e.g. agriculture, forestry). Focusing on governance as a system helps move beyond direct threats to biodiversity to examine the root causes of environmental decline, including economic structures, incentive systems, and social, cultural, and psychological factors that shape behaviour (Salafsky et al. 2008; Paavola et al. 2009). These interlinked issues are important not just for understanding what is causing environmental degradation but also for identifying leverage points for more effectively making decisions or actively intervening. Governance is not the same as management, but it influences how we manage ecosystems. Governance sets the vision and direction (e.g. through policy), whereas management operationalises the vision (Folke et al. 2005). Human and environmental systems are often treated separately in policy, but these systems are of course inextricably linked. The Anthropocene adds weight to calls to shift to a systems perspective in environmental governance and policy, where the dynamics in linked social-ecological systems (SESs) are considered in an integrated way (Holling et al. 2002; Walker et al. 2002; Folke et al. 2005; Chaffin et al. 2014). Governance influences the causes, patterns, and pace of ecological decline in SESs (Chaffin et al. 2016). Although it is not possible to control the dynamics of SESs, governance does play an important role in steering either towards a more sustainable future or perpetuating environmental degradation. If governance systems help to resolve common challenges, then it is also clear that they play a role in our failures. It is difficult to quantify exactly how much governance has contributed to our failure to address each of the Anthropocene’s many challenges, or which forms of governance could have prevented humanity from creating this new epoch, if that was indeed an option. It is difficult to know exactly how much governance has contributed to our failure to address problems such as biodiversity loss, but we know that effective environmental governance can make substantial differences to outputs, outcomes, and collective resolution of environmental problems (Young 2017). While the ways in which

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governance needs to change will vary across the world, the global situation suggests that many realms of environmental governance, and even the democratic systems of which governance is a part, are ineffective and outdated, requiring urgent reform (Hickmann et al. 2018). This is easier said than done. It is an enormous challenge to reform entrenched ways of making decisions, and institutions tend to fall back onto well-worn paths and comfortable routines. While acknowledging this, this book seeks to identify productive pathways forward that can modernise governance and help confront transformative change. While recognising that governance is rarely the sole reason why we have failed so far, attending to governance allows us to consider bigger questions about what the Anthropocene means to those of us who live in it. This includes questions about why we intervene, what we hope to achieve, and how we should explore future scenarios and ways we might do things better.

 ovel Ecosystems, Governance, N and the Anthropocene The term ‘novel ecosystems’ has been used to describe some of the anthropogenic landscapes that have emerged in this new epoch. The debate about novel ecosystems is an exemplar for understanding how the Anthropocene challenges current governance systems. Novel ecosystems are clearly a product of human influence, with the term referring to highly modified landscapes where key attributes or functions (e.g. nutrient load, hydrology), interactions, and many of the species have changed compared with historical ecosystems. However, a critical aspect of the definition of novel ecosystems is that there are practical limitations to restoring them to a historical state (Hobbs et al. 2013). There are also other heavily modified ecosystems that are clearly influenced by humans but may feasibly be restored to some prior historical state, for example, hybrid ecosystems (Hobbs et al. 2009, 2014; Truitt et al. 2015). Yet even if these classifications are agreed, the implications for conservation and restoration are still not at all clear. At present, many of these ecosystems fall outside of the boundaries of what is considered worthy of protection

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or a priority for investment, given the challenges in restoring them. While they could be managed to provide benefits for ecosystems and society, there are a whole host of challenges to doing so (Chap. 4). The debate around novel ecosystems also provides concrete examples of how both ecosystems and ideas about nature are transforming. As discussed previously, the Anthropocene has led to reflection on the very idea of nature and whether it still exists. Novel ecosystems are exemplars of this transformation of narratives, and this is reflected in the debate. As explored in more detail in Chap. 4, there is palpable anxiety evident in the novel ecosystems literature, with many scientific and normative debates illustrating the very same tensions and challenges evident in the global Anthropocene debate. Just as there are good, bad, and ugly ways of framing the Anthropocene, similar storylines can be found in the novel ecosystems literature. They also present many of the same challenges for governance that are evident for the Anthropocene more broadly. The novel ecosystems debate can help illustrate the pragmatic challenges of environmental governance and management in this human epoch. Investigating what to do about novel ecosystems provides a useful way of understanding the implications of the rapid and widespread transformation of the Earth System ‘on the ground’. Even where there is consensus that novel ecosystems exist, there are practical questions that emerge about what can be done (technical and scientific questions) and what should be done (governance and management questions). Not everyone accepts the term ‘novel ecosystems’, but just like the Anthropocene as a whole, the issues that arise from the debate are relevant, no matter what we call the object of investigation. The debate around novel ecosystems also typifies the ethical, legal, scientific, and practical challenges of managing ecosystems in the Anthropocene. Nearly every element of the novel ecosystems debate is contested: whether novel ecosystems even exist, whether they can be restored, what their existence says about environmental management and policy, and how conservation goals and management actions may need to change to deal with such dramatically altered ecosystems (Clement and Standish 2018). Although novel ecosystems already exist in many areas of the globe, their existence is predicted to be more widespread, due to the intensity and pace of drivers of ecosystem decline (Hobbs et al. 2014). As

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with the different ways of framing the Anthropocene concept, there are scientific questions about novel ecosystems, but at the crux of the debate are a number of normative questions about decision-making, responsibility, perceptions, and competing values and priorities. All of these questions are in the realm of governance. Again there is both hope and grief exposed in this debate, with some hoping for a future where novel ecosystems are valued and deliver important functions, while others mourn the loss of historical ecosystems and worry that ‘giving in’ to novel ecosystems means ‘giving up’ on conservation (Hobbs 2013; Standish et al. 2013; Murcia et al. 2014; Clement and Standish 2018). Clearly, it is possible to both mourn the loss of what has gone and harness some hope about what could be gained, even if the losses and gains are of fundamentally different qualities.

A Way Forward? Although this book is not only about novel ecosystems, central to the issues presented in it are questions that arise from this debate. There are questions about not only what changes we observe in ecosystems but also what they mean for the way we approach conservation and address the key drivers of environmental decline. Generally, this involves drawing on lessons from the past and applying them to the future or trying to return to some specific historical baseline. But what does it mean for the future of how we manage ecosystems, and what can we learn from the past, if the Earth is operating in a ‘no analogue state’ (Crutzen and Steffen 2003)? The urgency of the Anthropocene means business as usual is ultimately untenable, raising deeper questions about human-environment relations and essentially requiring us to confront social and ecological challenges in tandem. Although this linked approach has risen in popularity in the literature, it is still out of step with many modern governance systems, legal and policy frameworks, and traditional environmental management practices. A key theme throughout this book is that an ecosystem need not meet the scientific definition of a ‘novel ecosystem’ for it to present similar questions and challenges for governance, policy, and management.

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The Anthropocene has created novel social and ecological conditions requiring modernised governance systems. Novel ecosystems might be just one example of a ‘new ecological world order’ (Hobbs et al. 2013) that requires reformed governance. A decade since their inception, we are not only failing to meet most of the Aichi targets under the Convention on Biodiversity, but 12 of the 20 targets actually show worsening trends for nature (IPBES 2019). The scale and pace of continued biodiversity decline and the transformation of systems that are valued both socially and ecologically suggest there is a broader need to reflect on what is and is not working right now. Although some degree of ecosystem change is inevitable, measurable impacts on geological timescales suggest we have pushed beyond reasonable levels of change, even within dynamic ecosystems. If we agree that we have a responsibility to intervene—and the existence of legal frameworks targeting biodiversity conservation suggests we do—then these unprecedented changes require us to reflect on why and how we are ‘doing’ conservation and search for more effective systems of governance.

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Young, O. R. (2008) ‘Building regimes for socioecological systems: Institutional diagnostics’, in Young, O. R., King, L. A., and Schroeder, H. (eds) Institutions and environmental change: principal findings, applications, and research frontiers. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 115–144. Young, O. R. (2017) Governing Complex Systems, Governing Complex Systems. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.7551/ mitpress/9780262035934.001.0001. Zalasiewicz, J. et al. (2015) ‘When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-­twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal’, Quaternary International. Elsevier Ltd, 383, pp.  196–203. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. quaint.2014.11.045. Zuber-Skerritt, O. and Perry, C. (2002) ‘Action research within organisations and university thesis writing’, The Learning Organization. Bradford, United Kingdom, Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing, Limited, 9(3/4), p.  171. Available at: http://search.proquest.com/docview/215660044?acco untid=12629.

2 Understanding Change and Governing Transformation

Whether or not the Anthropocene becomes a permanent feature of the Geologic Time Scale, it has gained traction as a concept, sparking important conversations about the legacy of human impacts on the planet and how to mitigate current and future anthropogenic drivers of change. While in many cases it will still be possible to strive to return ecosystems to something akin to a ‘natural’ state, the extent of human impacts, to date, combined with continued pressure on natural systems, means that many changes are not reversible without radical transformation of social and economic systems. In many cases, changes may also not be reversible due to technical reasons or resources being insufficient to return systems to an ‘ideal’ state. The consequence is that we need to reflect on how we arrived here and where we want (or can feasibly expect) to go next. What is ‘ideal’ may also need to change, which includes but extends well beyond the purview of science. This requires examination not just of empirical evidence about observed changes to the Earth System and the human behaviours driving these changes, but also of fundamental, often normative, questions about the way we should live and how we should address environmental problems. The Anthropocene discussion serves as a reminder that the pace, scale, and intensity of environmental degradation © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_2

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have increased across many metrics and in many places across the globe that require a response. It can also serve as a provocation, asking us to consider not just evidence of degradation but also how we frame and confront modern-day environmental changes. This is where the concept can be potentially transformative, generating discussion, debate, and even anxiety about how we got here and what to do next. Governance has entered into the debate because of its role in addressing the reasons why we got here and steering society into new directions. Given the extensive changes already caused by human actions and projections of the future state of many of the Earth’s systems, a future human-­ made planet looks grim if we continue on the current trajectory. Governance cannot remedy every challenge, but it can help change the trajectory and, ultimately, outcomes. Governance provides a link between social and ecological systems, so it plays an important role in building capacity to deal with environmental challenges and can ultimately influence the trajectory of linked social-ecological systems (SESs). Governance is a focal point in the SES literature because of its important role in building the resilience of both ecological and social systems (Gunderson et al. 1995; Folke and Berkes 1998; Folke et al. 2005; Galaz et al. 2008; Boyd 2011; Chaffin et al. 2014). It can provide a focus for interventions now, as well as a space to discuss what constitutes ‘desirable’ scenarios. Governance needs to be central to discussions about the Anthropocene, because it moves beyond the evidence for change to incorporate values, norms, and regulatory interventions, influencing how we collectively act on these problems now and how we navigate towards the future, both for better and for worse.

 ocial Science, Biodiversity, S and the Anthropocene The very term ‘Anthropocene’ serves as a reminder that many biophysical changes are human in origin and the product of social, economic, and political behaviours. To resolve the problems of the Anthropocene, therefore, requires dedicated interdisciplinary research. For the many

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environmental problems where human actions are the primary cause, understanding social systems is essential for understanding how, where, and why we intervene. Despite this obvious need for social science, understanding of the social dimensions of the Anthropocene, including governance, has lagged behind the natural sciences. While there is widespread acknowledgement that social change—including changing governance—is essential if we are to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios for many of the Earth’s systems (Chaffin et  al. 2016; Abson et  al. 2017; Colloff et al. 2017), the path to achieving that change is not clear. This may be one reason why, despite the mounting evidence that governance reform is essential for confronting the extensive ecological challenges of the Anthropocene, governance is often treated superficially in the biophysical literature, if it is mentioned at all (Clement and Standish 2018). There are widespread calls for interdisciplinarity because it is essential for confronting the challenges of a human-made epoch, but writings remain fragmented (Brondizio et al. 2016), particularly with respect to biodiversity conservation (Holmes 2015). Where social scientists and humanities scholars have engaged in the debate, they tend to approach it from the perspective of understanding the concept (its uses and limitations), analysing the challenges it presents, or addressing the implications of this new epoch (Pattberg and Zelli 2016). Critical social scientists and humanities scholars have made valuable contributions to the first category, seeking to understand, interrogate, and reconceptualise the Anthropocene. They bring fundamental questions that arise from such extensive and pervasive changes to the planet over centuries and what they mean about (and for) humanity into sharp focus. They also have led the charge in calling an end to the tendency of Anthropocene research to talk about a monolithic ‘human’ and move beyond purely instrumental uses of social sciences to solve the problems identified by natural sciences. They raise important questions about justice, fairness, and responsibility, as well as fundamental ethical questions about capitalism and inequality as the core drivers of many environmental challenges (Frawley and McCalman 2014; Malm and Hornborg 2014; Hamilton et al. 2015; Lövbrand et al. 2015; Barry and Maslin 2016; Haraway et  al. 2016; Moore 2016; Büscher et  al. 2017; Cuomo 2017). Such critiques are important for making sense of the

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cultural, political, and economic drivers of the Anthropocene and shedding light on how the concept can be used to obfuscate the embedded societal reasons for the current state of the planet and diffuse responsibility for environmental degradation. Given the role of institutions in reinforcing these problems, these critiques point to important considerations for governance, but they draw attention to the fact that resolution of many deeply embedded societal challenges may require transformation of most economic institutions. They call into question whether society can be steered, often resisting the idea that social sciences should provide concrete insights into how governance could change to achieve a better— if not good—Anthropocene.

The Governance Angle The governance literature tends to be more focused on analysing the problems of the Anthropocene and exploring ways to address these problems. This might be through changing regulations, innovations in policy, changing decision-making processes, bringing together more and/or different stakeholders, and even revisiting fundamental principles underpinning environmental policy and fostering new norms. Although the Anthropocene provides a way to frame—and think—holistically about a whole range of interconnected processes that are changing the Earth System, since its inception, there has been a strong focus on global environmental politics and especially climate change, with very little focus on biodiversity conservation (Holmes 2015). At the global scale, the field of Earth System governance has offered important insights into how we can confront environmental problems (especially climate change), through collective action, international agreements and institutions, and legal mechanisms (Biermann 2014a; Edmondson and Levy 2019; Galaz 2019; Kotzé 2017; Pattberg and Zelli 2016; Young 2017). This international scale of analysis is essential in light of the changes evident in the whole Earth System. It also makes sense in a globalised world where economies and societies are interconnected and challenges cross jurisdictional boundaries and scales.

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Biodiversity loss, despite not being a major focus in the Anthropocene literature, now ranks as one of the most significant global drivers of environmental change for its effects on ecosystem function and human health and prosperity (Cardinale et  al. 2012). As yet, the literature exploring biodiversity loss and conservation of ecosystems in relation to the Anthropocene remains relatively scant, particularly as it relates to governance. While it is clear that many authors are discussing related ideas (e.g. novel ecosystems, assisted migration of species, rewilding) and these debates have existed long before the Anthropocene concept was popularised (Holmes 2015), these debates are quite separate from the literature on governance and transformation. The Anthropocene can provide a useful frame for discussions and bridging concept across disciplines (Brondizio et al. 2016), and so can help bring these disparate ideas and debates together. There are also many unanswered questions relating specifically to biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene that merit focused attention. While other problems discussed in the Anthropocene literature (e.g. climate change) certainly overlap with and exacerbate the problems of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, it is easy to overlook what makes biodiversity conservation in this new epoch uniquely challenging. This is why the Anthropocene as a concept can provide a useful framing for exploring ways to more effectively confront the multiple anthropogenic drivers causing widespread changes to the biosphere, and also ask more fundamental questions about what it means to undertake ‘conservation’ in an epoch characterised by dramatic—and sometimes irreversible—changes to ecosystems. An important consideration in analysing biodiversity governance is how to tailor solutions to the nature of the problem. Although there are international agreements, global commitments, and a raft of international organisations that seek to hold countries accountable for conserving biodiversity, the responsibility for acting on these commitments and the influences on decision making and action tend to be at the local, regional, and national levels of governance, and at smaller geographic scales. This is an important paradox of the Anthropocene: it represents the idea that all of humanity is facing a series of serious collective action challenges that require urgent action, but all of humanity is not responsible for these changes, nor does everyone have the power to enact

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remedies. Approaches must necessarily vary across scales and, ideally, be tailored to that context. Intentionally changing the way governance systems are designed and deciding where reforms should be directed is, however, a core challenge for governance research.

Where Have We Gone Wrong? Reducing the description of governance to its role in linking and steering SESs minimises the complexity involved. Social systems and natural systems are both complex, but in different ways. Looking at the linkages between the two only magnifies the challenge. Ecological systems are complex in part because they are dynamic and comprised of many interacting biotic and abiotic variables that create emergent properties that are not necessarily intuitive. Social systems have equally complex dynamics, but they operate differently to ecological systems and need to be understood in their own right. This is one reason why many fundamental scientific questions about the dynamics of SESs remain unanswered, and the question of how governance can alter those dynamics remains is not straightforward. So, while reforming governance systems to more effectively confront the drivers of environmental change is a promising pathway towards a better version of the Anthropocene, this is easier said than done.

Governance and Effectiveness Effective governance can make measurable differences to resolving the social, economic, and ecological challenges of the Anthropocene. Yet determining what is ‘effective’ is still an open question (Young et al. 2008; Clement et al. 2019). Identifying which aspects of governance and institutional attributes matter, and their strength of influence on ecosystems, is not at all straightforward. Institutions are contributing factors to biodiversity decline, but their effects are but one indirect driver of biodiversity loss. There are perhaps thousands of direct threats to biodiversity that are attributable to humans, and these are compounded by the already

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degraded condition of many ecosystems that make ecosystems less resilient (Salafsky et al. 2008). Many of the institutional forces that could be described as root causes of biodiversity loss are well outside of any local, regional, or national efforts to conserve biodiversity, such as global financial markets. It is a challenge to minimise all this noise to determine whether—and to what extent—various institutional forces affect biodiversity conservation. The task becomes even more complex if the researcher seeks to determine the relative contribution of institutions and other (e.g. biophysical) forces. Synergistic effects also arise from the many direct, indirect, and proximate causes of biodiversity decline, so it is not always clear where best to target efforts. While there are many approaches to modelling complex systems that can help us explore how best to intervene, it is unrealistic to expect that we will ever fully understand how all these different factors interact in complex SESs. However, decision-­ making under uncertainty is not a new problem, and there are ways to intervene that do not require us to have all the answers. If we accept the fundamental premise that biodiversity governance has not been effective, then it follows that we need to be able to identify where we have gone wrong. Although governance has an important role to play in both causing and solving environmental challenges, teasing out the influence of governance relative to other social and biophysical drivers of environmental change remains one of the biggest research challenges. While it is clear that governance can influence both the real and perceived outcomes of environmental interventions, what characteristics of governance are most influential is poorly understood and context-­ dependent (Clement et al. 2019; Young 2017). Analysing governance can help us understand where governance has failed and identify leverage points for moving in new directions. It can also provide forums for discussion and debate about normative questions around authority, responsibility, accountability, and what sort of Anthropocene we want and how we might get there. Despite global targets to halt biodiversity loss, even modest commitments have not been met; rates of loss show no signs of slowing as pressures on ecosystems increase (Butchart et  al. 2010). The vast majority of species that are put on endangered and threatened species list remain on those lists, meaning they do not recover to a point where they

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can be self-sustaining. Some have argued that this does not constitute failure since most species put on these lists also do not go extinct (c.f. Greenwald et al. 2019). This assessment does not consider the fact that we have failed to reach the overall aims of the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which calls for ‘conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties’ (SCBD 2013) as well as the specific goals set out in the Aichi targets (Hill et al. 2015). The overall principle underpinning the vast body of policies, plans, programmes, and laws targeting biodiversity and nature conservation is fairly consistent: to not only halt biodiversity loss, but to maintain the species and ecosystems that currently exist and to recover them to some prescribed baseline. Given that global extinction rates are estimated to be 100–1000 times the background rate and increasing (Pimm et al. 2014), we have clearly failed by the standards we have set for ourselves. The reasons for this failure are varied and include the piecemeal nature of biodiversity conservation and the focus on conserving particular species and habitats, at the detriment of efforts to address larger-scale threats and processes, as well as the failure to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline (Possingham 2008; Salt and Lindenmayer 2008; Rands et al. 2010; Hill et al. 2013; Clement et al. 2016, b). Considering that the role of governance is broadly to help us steer away from socially undesirable outcomes and towards more desirable outcomes, the need to reform governance systems based on this failure alone is clear. Beyond the biodiversity case, aside from a few notable exceptions,1 on the whole, environmental governance systems seem to be ineffective, when judged by our own metrics. This is even after the widespread implementation of environmental laws, policies, plans, and programmes aimed at slowing or halting environmental degradation at local, national, and international levels for decades. There are documented successes over this  There are of course some notable and well-documented exceptions to this trend, internationally and locally. This includes the reduction in ozone-depleting substances leading to recovery of the ozone and reductions in point source discharges leading to marked improvements in air and water quality in some places. 1

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time period—particularly at local scales—but globally the trajectory is not good, and this is one reason for the grief and pessimism so pervasive in discussions about the Anthropocene. To date, most governance systems have failed to halt or slow many of the drivers of environmental decline. At best, governance has been complicit in the continued degradation of the Earth System, and in some cases, governance strategies may have even exacerbated the social and biophysical drivers of environmental decline (Young 2017). While it seems that governance reform is necessary, exactly where reform is needed, the extent of reforms that are required, and how to foster change in governance systems to make them more effective are all still at the frontiers of knowledge. While the need to reform governance may be a logical conclusion, it is only a starting point for a series of vexed questions about how that reform should take place and where the focus should be.

Governance: Barrier, Vessel, or Panacea? Arguments about how governance might be able to help generally fall into three categories: barrier, vessel, or panacea. In the first category, the focus is on how governance and institutional arrangements are central to the failure to confront environmental challenges. This is not just because they misdirect responses, but also because of the very characteristics of most governance systems. From this perspective, the top-down, efficiency-­ driven nature of our current systems of governance fail to enable the kind of flexible, innovative, forward-looking, and nimble responses that are required. There is a great deal of literature focused on how to respond to the dual call for both stability and flexibility, that is, stability provided by governance and institutions needs to be balanced with systems that enable flexibility and room for experimentation and adjustment in response to previous evidence (Eakin et al. 2011; Cote and Nightingale 2012; Rijke et al. 2012; Ojha et al. 2013; Schoon 2013; Beunen and Patterson 2019). How to achieve such flexibility in practice remains unresolved, and is particularly challenging for public agencies, who have administrative limits and legislative mandates that can limit their flexibility, innovation, and discretion.

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This has merited so much attention because these administrative limits seem obvious sources of failure when confronting the complex, dynamic, and uncertain challenges of the Anthropocene. Institutions by their very nature are meant to stabilise systems and should be robust in the face of change. This is what makes them useful in the struggle to achieve collective goals over the long term. But these same structures can act as impediments to change when it is required. As a barrier, governance can be framed as a key system blocking progress as well as effective collective action, particularly when it is mired in bureaucracy, wedded to outdated or unscientific practices, politically constrained, and generally too slow to act. There is thus a wealth of literature discussing governance and institutions as barriers that need to be overcome in order to make progress on many environmental challenges (Gunderson et al. 1995; Hutton et al. 2005; Biesbroek et al. 2009; Powell 2010; Standish et al. 2013; Truitt et al. 2015). While some authors do discuss enabling conditions as well, or ways to overcome those barriers through ‘levers’ or ‘bridges’, it is questionable whether this is a productive way to frame the role of governance in confronting environmental problems. By referring to them as barriers, there is an implication that we have the answers to how to do things ‘properly’ and a clear path forward, and that we would be able to follow this path if it were not for institutional barriers in the way. Yet two fundamental aspects of environmental problems are complexity and uncertainty, so it is rare that we have a full understanding of how to intervene, where to intervene, and what will happen if we do. It also seems to imply a mechanistic relationship between governance and outcomes, and that if governance is right, then the outcomes we hope for (e.g. halting biodiversity loss, recovery of species) will be realised. Another way governance has been framed in discussions is as a vessel, where science and expert input is translated into policy and management objectives, and governance systems facilitate the application of those prescriptions. For example, scientists publish research papers with statements about what governments should do, based on the scientific evidence. Often, they critique what is currently being done and may determine that the problem is the link between the science-policy interface or the failure to develop evidence-based policy. The idea is that

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governance systems that have better evidence will see improvements in the way that actors make decisions and deliver policies, plans, and programmes (Head 2010). The picture that emerges is almost as though there is a conveyor belt of knowledge where evidence is delivered to policymakers and then they translate this into policy and action. In an extreme version of this perspective, public servants who make and implement policy are seen almost as empty vessels, with very little discretion, whose role is to transform science into action. This is problematic for many reasons. First, it suggests that the main role of public servants, and other actors with authority in governance systems, has little agency or their own views, and is instead driven solely by the will of others (usually of politicians, but in this case scientists) to neutrally design and implement policy (Vinzant and Crothers 1996). In reality, all actors involved in governance systems not only have discretion, but they need to be able to exercise this discretion in order to effectively resolve public problems (Loyens and Maesschalck 2010; Ansell 2011; Clement et al. 2016). Second, it fails to acknowledge that rational processes in decision-making are limited because of the politicised contexts in which they work. In these contexts, bargaining, the upholding of entrenched commitments, and the juggling of diverse and often competing values and interests all have an impact on policymaking (Head 2010; Parkhurst 2016). It also assumes that the science that is to be translated into policy is neutral, clear, and clearly pointing in one direction. In reality, scientific evidence can be subject to bias and comes from multiple disciplines that value different forms of evidence and work from different assumptions. Furthermore, as the many different versions of the Anthropocene show, the evidence does not always point in a single direction. Peer-reviewed evidence is not necessarily always credible, and there can be debates among scientists about whose research is ‘right’, which creates confusion for decision-makers (McGarity 2003). In such cases, even ‘sound’ science can be used to justify actions that damage the environment (Doremus 2005). Finally, it reinforces the fallacy that governance systems can tame complexity and use evidence and predictions to control outcomes, which is particularly problematic for issues where complexity, uncertainty, and fundamental questions about norms and ethics are at stake (Saltelli and Giampietro 2017). Letting go of this

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illusion of control and embracing governance systems that enable capacity to cope with complexity and uncertainty are at the core of much of the literature on governance and environmental change. Although there is no ideal governance system or institutional design that can effectively remedy the failure of governance so far, there is a large body of literature that relies on particular blueprints for directing governance reform. These panaceas come in several forms and offer similar prescriptions for governance reform across diverse contexts and with respect to a wide variety of problems (Ostrom 2007; Ostrom and Cox 2010). They may also try to apply simple solutions to complex social-­ ecological problems, for example, often advocating for particular governance arrangements or policy instruments and excluding other options. Many researchers have warned against the danger of applying such panaceas (Brock and Carpenter 2007; Huntjens et  al. 2012; Korten 1980; Ostrom 2007; Ostrom and Cox 2010; Pahl-Wostl et  al. 2010; Young 2002). And yet, the enthusiasm for particular approaches or blanket prescriptions to diverse challenges remains. Interestingly, adaptive governance—one of the most prominent forms of governance that has emerged in response to the challenges of the Anthropocene—is itself increasingly being presented as a panacea (Cox et al. 2016). Adaptive governance refers to a family of governance systems that are characterised by decision-making that deliberately fosters capacity to cope with the inherent uncertainty and complexity of social-­ ecological systems. It calls for multilayered governance networks; multiple centres of authority (polycentricity); linkages across scales; reflection, learning, and adjustment; integration of multiple knowledge systems; innovation and experimentation; and deliberative decision-making (Berkes 2002; Lebel et al. 2006; Armitage and Plummer 2010; Brunner 2010; Armitage et al. 2012; Chaffin et al. 2014, 2016). In much of the governance literature, it is offered as a form of governance that could be ideal for addressing the many challenges of the Anthropocene. However, it has been difficult to find good examples that actually conform to the full suite of adaptive governance features in practice, and it is still not clear how to actively generate these features in real life, particularly in different contexts. Case studies so far have documented elements of this

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form of governance, but often these emerge in response to challenges rather than through intentional intervention.

Governance as Scaffolding Although it is tempting to pursue new panaceas, it is perhaps more helpful to see governance as scaffolding towards the larger-scale changes that may be needed to more effectively confront the challenges of the Anthropocene. This view is inspired by pragmatist scholars who suggest there is a middle ground between the incremental approaches to taking down barriers and efforts to radically transform governance (Ansell 2011). The fundamental challenge we face is that incremental changes are not enough in the Anthropocene, because they keep us on the same path. And yet the radical transformations discussed in the literature, though potentially desirable, are difficult to engineer. Accepting that large-scale change is not designed, intentional governance reform is limited in what it can achieve in most circumstances. A pragmatic view suggests that change can be achieved by scaffolding what is already there, identifying capacity and skills that already exist and building new capacities that are missing or undeveloped. It also brings in new features or practices that can displace or augment previous practices where there is a need. Although it is not as exciting as the idea that governance can be readily transformed, it is mindful that reform does not take place in ‘institutional greenfields’. It will always be impacted by the legacy of what has come before, not unlike the concept of ecological memory, where ecological species and processes are shaped by past modifications to the landscape (Peterson 2002). Yet it can move us collectively in a new direction if it explicitly aims towards a larger-scale goal (Ansell 2011; Clement et al. 2015; Schoon 2013). What that goal is must necessarily be consciously chosen and will inevitably vary depending on context. It is true that this may not lead to an ideal form of governance, but it is also true that there is, as yet, very little understanding of what that ‘ideal’ form might be. The reality is that institutions are always a combination of old and new and are adapted to fit local contexts, where new

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concepts are often introduced and actors can use their knowledge of this context to achieve more radical change (Campbell 2004, 2010; Cleaver 2012). Even in places where ecosystems are transforming, it is not clear whether governance also needs to radically change, or whether incremental change is sufficient, provided it targets the most important leverage points. It is likely to be different in different contexts, but how to achieve whatever level of change is needed is still fraught with questions.

Understanding Institutions and Institutional Change Institutional characteristics are one reason for the complexity involved in any effort to intentionally reform governance. As discussed in Chap. 1, governance refers to the system of coordination for resolving common challenges, functioning as a means to steer society towards socially desirable outcomes and away from undesirable outcomes (Young 2017). In general terms, the study of governance is concerned with who decides, how decisions are made, and where and why we intervene. Governance is often discussed in terms of laws and policies, but it also encompasses institutions, processes, and power (Swiderska et al. 2008). These institutions, processes, and power relationships are the fundamental building blocks of governance. While there is decades of scholarship on how to change institutions and other dimensions of governance, there are still many unanswered questions about how to intentionally change institutions, where efforts to change institutions are needed, and what type of change (e.g. radical or incremental) is needed to more effectively confront environmental challenges (Abson et al. 2017; Beunen and Patterson 2019; Chaffin et al. 2014; Clement et al. 2015a, b; Galaz et al. 2008; Young 2002, 2017). To understand why that is, it is first useful to understand what institutions are. Institutions essentially provide the unseen structure to everyday life. They provide the rules, strategies, and norms that guide the behaviour of individuals, organisations, and networks (i.e. actors). Although often the word ‘institutions’ is used interchangeably with organisations, they are

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not the same thing. Institutions are sometimes said to define the ‘rules of the game’, while organisations are players in that game (North 1990). Influential organisations can shape institutions, but only within certain constraints. Institutions guide behaviour in at least three ways (Scott 2014): • through coercion and the threat of formal sanction (regulative); • through norms of acceptability, morality, and ethics (normative); and • through the categories and frames through which actors interpret their world (cultural-cognitive). They can be codified, but often institutions deviate substantially from what is written on paper (Ostrom 2005). Anyone who has worked in policymaking is familiar with just how significant these deviations can be for the way decisions are made or what activities are prioritised. Often when people express frustration that a particular law or policy targeting an environmental problem is not working, it is less about what is written on paper or codified into law than it is about how it is interpreted in practice or whether it actually influences the behaviour of the target audience. This is the foundation of governance research: to move research beyond investigating institutions as mere statements on paper and uncover the rules-in-use, norms, and strategies that form the structure of governance, and guide how people interact and work together to cause, resolve, and discuss environmental problems (Young 2002; Ostrom 2005). Uncovering this hidden structure of governance can be difficult, but it is essential if the aim is to change deeply embedded patterns of behaviour, which are the source of many of the changes that are evident in the Anthropocene. Despite their importance, the concept of institutions and governance can be very abstract, especially for those who focus on the biophysical aspects of conservation. However, we all have experience of governance in our own lives, whether at work or at home. Take, as an example, an individual working within a government agency on biodiversity conservation. They may have many different elements of policy to consider when deciding whether a restoration of a site should receive funding. There will be laws that specify if that ecosystem is a priority (e.g. if it is habitat for

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threatened species) and tools to determine if a site meets criteria for that particular funding source (e.g. checklists). In practice, there is often a great deal of negotiation that takes place because there is inevitably less funding than there are projects to fund, so other (often unspoken) attributes come into play, for example, whether it is in a marginal political seat or a project of the type favoured by a minister. There are also principles and norms that the project would be expected to abide by, for example, using proven restoration techniques and planting native species. Sometimes the governance of the restoration itself will be considered because it could influence how risky the project is and its likelihood to succeed. Risk aversion tends to be a norm in many organisations, particularly in government agencies. Even where there is a desire to support more ‘innovative’ methods of restoration, the person making the decisions may be averse to projects that are too innovative, stepping outside of established professional norms and prior practice. Failure could be informative, but it is also a waste of public resources and they could be held into account. Personal, often unconscious, bias can also come into the process, with decision-makers bringing their own beliefs about what is good practice and what constitutes a good solution, based on a mix of their disciplinary background, personal experience, and underlying values about nature or ‘naturalness’. There may also be norms or other aspects of organisational culture that influence what is considered a ‘good’ project. Even with established principles and well-defined criteria, anyone who has worked in an organisation intuitively understands that the way decisions are made reaches well beyond formal institutions on paper. This has important implications for understanding institutions and how they change, and ultimately for governance reform.

The Challenge of Institutional Change Institutions are notoriously difficult to change. Both institutions and the governance systems of which they are a part of tend to evolve over time, being incrementally built on prior practices and policies. Change certainly occurs, but often only after shocks or dramatic events, or when

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broader societal and political shifts change the operating environment and open windows of opportunity. Despite these challenges, there are leverage points and strategies that can inform efforts to reform governance in the Anthropocene that has, as yet, been underutilised and disconnected to other disciplinary research. Many recent writings about environmental problems start with the premise that the transformative changes we see in the Earth System require ‘transformation’ of institutional arrangements and governance systems (Folke et  al. 2005; Biggs et  al. 2010; Westley et  al. 2011; Cote and Nightingale 2012; Chaffin et al. 2016; Abson et al. 2017; Colloff et al. 2017a; Plummer et al. 2020). While they have identified a number of potential leverage points, how to press those levers is not yet clear, and often the levers require transformation of whole economic systems and social norms. We return to the notion of adaptive governance discussed earlier, which requires institutions that enable actors to be flexible, adaptable to changing circumstances, and experimental. Rather than being top-down in structure and efficiency-driven, this form of governance is polycentric and collaborative; it should be comprised of both formal and informal networks and draw on diverse knowledge systems, while employing a wide variety of strategies and employing monitoring and feedback mechanisms to regularly adjust the way things are done (Berkes 2002; Lebel et al. 2006; Armitage and Plummer 2010; Brunner 2010; Armitage et al. 2012; Chaffin et al. 2014, 2016). Many of these characteristics are antithetical to many of the well-known characteristics of institutions, for example: • Institutions provide stability and tend to provide pressure towards stasis. While this characteristic is part of what makes them important for efforts to establish robust, sustained collective action to target environmental problems, it needs to be overcome when change is required. • Decisions are often made out of habit and routine, and actors often stick to ‘safe’ strategies that are tried and true. Once we get into particular habits, they can be difficult to break. In the governance literature, this is called path dependency, and the tendency towards using the same strategies means there is a tendency towards stasis or stagnation.

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• Rules and norms can develop without any explicit discussion whatsoever, yet they can still be deeply embedded (Ostrom 2005; Scott 2014). They are also informed by underlying beliefs and values, which can be very challenging to change. The unspoken—and often subconscious—nature of institutions requires underlying drivers to be revealed before deliberation, learning, and adjustment can take place. • Despite their tendency to re-enforce the status quo, institutions are subtly shaped all of the time when actors interpret, assemble, and recombine rules and norms to achieve different purposes (Cleaver 2002; Garud et al. 2010). • Collaboration and involvement of diverse stakeholders is often avoided because it increases transaction costs and makes decision-making more complicated, but does not always improve outcomes (Clement et al. 2019). There are many implications flowing from these characteristics that make institutional change difficult. For example, the tendency to fall back into habit and routine means that innovative solutions are challenging to normalise in institutions. This interacts with the culture within environmental organisations, which tend to be risk-averse. Risk aversion is a characteristic of many organisations in both the private and public sectors, based on a range of institutional constraints (e.g. political control, vague goals, bureaucracy and red tape, or managers that limit discretion) (Bozeman and Kingsley 1998; Ansell 2011; Clement et  al. 2016). The implication of this is that innovations require not just introducing an innovation but also working to either change organisational culture or make that innovation feel like it fits with that culture. This is why culture and norms are such important domains of change (Chap. 3, Domain 2). There are long-standing debates about how to overcome the constraints of institutions (structure) with intentional human action (agency). Environmental governance researchers have long grappled with the issues that flow from the need to institutionalise environmental responses against the need to foster adaptive practices, many of which are misaligned to the default characteristics of institutionalised environments, such as foresight, flexibility, innovation, and nimbleness (Archer 2010; Giddens 1984; Powell and DiMaggio 1991; Sewell Jr 1992). In this

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regard, human agency has become a major focus of governance and the Anthropocene research, as it not only provides a way to consider active intervention, but can help direct attention to actors that have the authority, responsibility, and capacity to act (Biermann 2014a, b; Nicholson and Jinnah 2016; Young 2017). These characteristics are important, as not all actors have such powers. These agents may change institutions subtly or more dramatically, and they can do it purposively or non-­ purposively, but because of their power and the strategies they use (called institutional work, see Chap. 3), they are important considerations in understanding how institutions change. Examining the dynamics of the strategies these agents use can help identify ways to actively change institutions, but it is just one avenue for those seeking to reform governance.

Institutional Change in Context Although intentional institutional change is challenging for all the reasons outlined earlier, there are ways of identifying leverage points where active intervention can help move towards governance systems that are more ‘fit-for-purpose’ (fit). This term is used to describe the idea that the attributes of a governance system should match the dynamics and properties of the social, ecological, or (in the case of the Anthropocene) the complex SES that it is trying to steer (Young 2002, 2008, 2017). This idea allows researchers and policymakers to think about problems in relation to specific contexts, rather than focusing on particular designs or strategies as rigid prescriptions or blueprints. It has been used to help move beyond the problematic notion of panaceas in the governance literature and focus attention on solving concrete challenges using a process called institutional diagnosis (Clement et  al. 2016, 2017; Cox 2012; Ferguson et al. 2013; Ostrom 2007; Young 2008, 2017). This process is akin to a doctor diagnosing and treating a patient. It is a flexible approach but focuses attention on the attributes of the problems that are being targeted (e.g. biodiversity conservation). Rather than starting with a particular solution in mind, it provides a structured way to think about how institutions and governance systems do and do not match the spatial, temporal, and functional attributes of environmental problems and the

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dynamics of the specific SESs being studied (Folke et  al. 2007; Galaz et al. 2008; Young 2008; Boyd 2011; Mann and Absher 2014; Clement et al. 2016, b). This is a useful way to think about governance, biodiversity conservation, and the Anthropocene because it does not assume that there is only one solution, and it allows a focus on how problems play out in specific contexts. The concept of fit highlights a need for governance systems that are equipped to cope with the dynamics of change and adaptation, and to address these dynamics across multiple scales. A key challenge in biodiversity conservation is that it requires consideration of the full range of scales. The loss of species is affected by highly localised factors (e.g. soil loss, land clearing), regional changes (e.g. loss of ecological connectivity), and so on, including global factors that drive local decision-making (e.g. international wildlife trade and commodity markets). This is one reason why governance of biodiversity is said to have failed, as it has focused largely on conserving threatened species and their habitats and failed to target the underlying social and ecological dimensions that are influential, particularly at larger scales (Johnson et  al. 2001; McIntyre 2008; Trombulak and Baldwin 2010; Pasari et al. 2013; Gonthier et al. 2014). Changing the scale of intervention, however, is not sufficient, as there are other important areas of mismatch that are even more complex. Thinking about how fit-for-purpose governance systems might address the functional aspects of ecosystems over appropriate timescales also calls attention to where many systems have failed so far. For example, institutions need to buffer against a diverse range of social, economic, and biophysical drivers; consider how these interact; and address short-term changes whilst also committing to long-term strategies. It also requires foresight and an understanding of how even small impacts build over time to create cumulative impacts that may be even more significant because of synergistic effects and the apparent non-linear behaviour of SESs (Folke et al. 2004; Steinberg 2009; Clement et al. 2017). There are dimensions of fit that are perhaps even more important when viewed through the lens of the Anthropocene, including how biodiversity governance systems link and interact with other related governance systems (e.g. climate change, agriculture, land use planning), which is captured in the governance literature through the idea of interplay (Clement et al.

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2016; Vatn and Vedeld 2012; Young 2002). Fit can also be considered with cognitive and normative aspects of institutions, such as how biodiversity conservation is framed and how this fits with wider political and societal narratives, as well as how the objectives of conservation align with the different ways scientists, decision-makers, the public, and others perceive and value biodiversity and landscapes (Cleaver 2012; Clement et al. 2017). The non-linear dynamics of linked human-environment systems require governance systems with capacity to cope with, adapt to, shape, change, and confront complexity and uncertainty (Lebel et  al. 2006; Stein et al. 2013). For this reason, the governance literature has spent a great deal of time exploring these capacities and how they can support either adaptation or transformation.

Transformation, Adaptation, and Capacity While there is general agreement that governance systems need to change in light of the widespread changes to the biosphere, what type of change and how change can occur is less clear. As noted earlier, in terms of the degree of change, whether that change needs to be incremental or radical is somewhat unresolved, particularly in the absence of knowledge about exactly what attributes of governance matter. Incremental change is the usual mode for institutional change. It consists of small adjustments that may improve outcomes marginally but tend to reinforce the status quo and maintain current policy directions. Radical change represents more dramatic breaks from the past and involves fundamentally revisiting assumptions, values, and practices (Campbell 2004; Ansell 2011). Although it may seem obvious that governance in the Anthropocene requires the sort of fundamental shift characterised by radical change, it is a fallacy that these two types of change are dichotomous. Instead, they exist on a spectrum and incremental adjustments have been known to produce radical change. Although the study of incremental versus radical change is relatively new in the environmental literature, there are decades of scholarship in the organisational studies and in other domains (e.g. technology, social policy) that demonstrate this (c.f. Ansell 2011; Moschella et al. 2014; Clement et al. 2015a, b; Termeer et al. 2017). The

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idea is that organisations and governance are changing continuously, and sometimes these changes are amplified when they touch on the ways in which organisations and individuals make sense of problems and overcome habits and fixations with particular solutions (Termeer et al. 2017). Although it is tempting to think of transformation as being abrupt and occurring in a short time frame, in fact, most societal and governance transformations occur over decades. Transformation can be sudden, but it often emerges through a long process of incremental steps and a series of interlinked, dynamic, and crooked pathways, and along the way new pathways emerge (Djelic and Quack 2007). Some authors even talk about ‘incremental radicalism’, ‘continuous transformational change’, or ‘incremental transformation’. Although this may seem abstract, such change is all around us. The shifts towards ‘late stage capitalism’ in the world’s biggest economies since World War II are nothing short of transformation, but this transformation is the product of many different reform efforts in many different places. It also happened over decades, not overnight. Public health has also seen a number of these transformations, with the most obvious being smoking having moved from a health-promoting habit to one of the most maligned. Similar transformations are slowly taking place right now with respect to the environment, and some already have, including the shift from largely unregulated industries and rivers so polluted they caught fire, to extensive environmental regulation over several decades. Certainly, this regulation is not enough to solve all environmental ills, and it is in constant danger of erosion. However, by many measures, it is nothing short of transformative as compared to just a few decades ago. The idea of ‘slow transformation’ may seem an oxymoron, and it can certainly be frustrating when progress seems too slow, but as yet, there is scant evidence of how to force that change to happen, particularly in the absence of crisis. In practice, it is also difficult to know exactly what type of change will actually be feasible or sustainable, and there are no metrics that allow us to evaluate the degree of change that has occurred. It may be that incremental change, if directed in the right place, is desirable in many instances because it can be easier to achieve and ultimately leads to much bigger changes. Whether those changes take too long is the central concern of the Anthropocene. However, there are no tools or frameworks

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that allow us to easily diagnose what type of change is needed or to consistently compare different types of change across contexts. There are certainly no blueprints for how to achieve transformation quickly when it is required. It may seem obvious that in an epoch where humans have fundamentally transformed the Earth System, this would require the transformation of governance systems. Even without deliberate transformation, we are already seeing the transformation of ecosystems and the transformation of decision contexts, yet is it also possible to develop ‘adaptive, transformative governance’ (Colloff et al. 2017)? The latest global assessment of biodiversity has found that current goals for biodiversity conservation and sustainability cannot be met on current trajectories, and that beyond 2030, these can only be met through transformative change, which they define as a ‘fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values’ (IPBES 2019a, b, p. 5). In the wake of this assessment, there is global transformative change assessment taking place, which will hopefully chart the path forward for how this transformation can occur, although fundamental changes to all of these systems is a pretty significant task. Knowing what we do about institutional change, it is true that shifts in paradigms and values do occur, but deliberately engineering those shifts is near impossible. While it seems that transformation of governance is the logical conclusion from this assessment, it is not clear if transformation of systems always needs to be met by transformation of governance, nor is it clear how that transformation can or should take place. Even the assessment is confused on this point, as it calls for adaptive governance and later refers to ‘governance approaches that are integrative, inclusive, informed and adaptive’ (IPBES 2019a, b, p.  8). So, while transformation of whole systems is required, it may be that governance can enable this transformation through less-dramatic change, if reforms are targeted to those areas of poor fit. The academic literature is not much clearer on the difference. For example, there is literature that draws on the notion of ‘transformative adaptation’, which is characterised as a restructuring, path-shifting, innovative, multiscalar, system-wide, and persistent form of change (Fedele

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et al. 2019). Some authors have called for ‘deep leverage’ for sustainability transformation, which does involve the restructuring of institutions (Abson et  al. 2017). They identify four ways to leverage this structural change: 1. Crises, or more specifically being ‘open to the potentially transformational learning and adaptation opportunities invoked by crises’, although there is little guidance on what this might look like beyond sunset clauses in legislation that force review. 2. Purposeful destabilisation of unsustainable institutions to create windows of opportunity, although they provide little in the way of practical guidance. 3. Systematically analysing institutional failure in different contexts to gain insights into improved future functioning, although this is clearly a longer-term project. 4. Ensuring that existing well-functioning institutions are not lost, which highlights the need for stability as part of transformation. (Note the similarity to the idea of scaffolding here.) Also relevant to governance and transformation is the call to rethink, which includes thinking about how problems are framed as well as how knowledge is produced, used, and integrated into decision-making (Abson et al. 2017). This is also evident in the widespread focus on co-­ production in the governance literature. Knowledge co-production is hypothesised to play a key role in transformation by opening pathways towards more sustainable futures. The concept of co-production refers to how context-specific knowledge is produced by bringing together diverse types of expertise, knowledge, and actors through iterative and collaborative processes (Norström et al. 2020). It draws attention to how socio-­ economic, normative, and contextual factors influence governance and the use of knowledge in conservation (Wyborn et al. 2016). Although imperfect, these ideas provide a starting point to begin to think about how institutional change and governance reform may link to transformation of the type that is needed to confront the problems of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline in the Anthropocene.

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Rather than investigating the many shades of change that may be needed in governance, it is perhaps more useful to understand how governance provides capacity. Drawing again on the notion of fit, it is useful to think about whether the capacities in governance match the capacities needed to conserve biodiversity. This includes general capacities that facilitate change and can include the general skills, knowledge, and resources needed to understand the systems that are being governed (Clement et al. 2016; Virji et al. 2012). Most of the focus on governance in the Anthropocene, or environmental governance more generally, has been on adaptive capacity, which refers to a broad collection of skills and abilities to anticipate or respond to economic, biophysical, and social drivers. Adaptive capacity can be mobilised to achieve incremental (aka adaptive) changes as well as transformation when it is required (Bettini et  al. 2015). The focus on adaptive capacity is one of the most useful advances in the adaptive governance literature because it allows for the focus to shift to pathways to change in a given context (Karpouzoglou et al. 2016). Because the concept is agnostic to the type of change needed but instead seeks the right type of change at the right time, it is useful when diagnosing fit (Chap. 3). Although there are thousands of articles on adaptive capacity,2 there is still very little agreement on how to use the concept to guide adaptation in practice. In the climate change literature alone, a review of just 276 papers found 158 determinants of adaptive capacity (Siders 2019). The review also found very little cross-referencing, which makes it difficult to build a coherent theory of how adaptive capacity works. It is thus perhaps more useful to develop groupings of the different types of skills and abilities that are needed. For biodiversity governance, adaptive capacity should include buffering capacity, which refers to the ability to direct responses to the right drivers and manage both internal and external influences in social and ecological systems. It requires multiple and diverse approaches to solving problems and the capacity for organisations to achieve their objectives within unstable internal and external conditions (Clement et al. 2016; Clement and Standish 2018). This can also be referred to as stewarding capacity (Hölscher et  al. 2019). Managing interplay is also  Over 5300 articles on this topic are in Web of Science as on June 2020.

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important. This refers to the capacity to consider the functional relationships between problems (e.g. eradicating a non-native predator can affect prey populations) and the capacity to manage competing and conflicting political dynamics. Important when taking the holistic perspective in the Anthropocene, it also refers to the capacity to manage and productively leverage the interactions between biodiversity conservation and efforts to manage other issues (e.g. land use, climate change) (Clement et al. 2016, b). It can also include the capacity of leadership as well as actors who actively work to change institutions, and the capacity to not only innovate but also embed those innovations into institutions (Clement et al. 2016; Hölscher et al. 2019). How agency can achieve structural change in governance systems is one of the central considerations in identifying ways to effect system transformation or to build adaptive capacity. And yet the adaptive capacity and Anthropocene literature are only just beginning to explore how actors work to change institutions and build adaptive capacity through institutional work (Bettini et  al. 2015; Beunen et  al. 2017; Biermann 2014a). Ultimately, to translate adaptive capacity into practice, actors need to be enabled to learn, decide, and act. This means they need to understand what is happening in a system, learn from feedback, assess what this feedback means for the outcomes that they are trying to achieve, determine what types of actions are needed, and intervene based on this information (Bettini et al. 2015). How to target change in each of these domains remains an open question that is explored through themes and case studies in subsequent chapters.

Rising to the Challenge Given the current state of knowledge, it is not yet possible to provide a prescription for what governance features are most important for effectively conserving biodiversity and preserving or restoring ecosystem function. Even this goal to provide a one-size-fits-all solution is problematic. Where the leverage points are, and how these can be targeted, will vary according to both context and the specific characteristics of the problem at hand. For the chapters that follow, each of these domains are discussed

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with reference to some of the major ‘sticking points’ in biodiversity conservation: novel ecosystems, cultural landscapes, climate change, wildfire, and the deliberate use of nature to solve societal challenges. To address the context-specific nature of governance reform, these chapters draw on information from across the globe, and illustrate key concepts with case studies from varied contexts and different geographic locations. Each chapter draws primarily on my own in-depth empirical work, including focus groups, workshops, SES modelling, surveys, participant observation, and hundreds of in-depth interviews. I also draw on the work of others, including both case study work and systematic reviews, particularly with respect to the ecological aspects of the chapters. The diagnostic approach and the notion of fit have informed my approach to analysing and synthesising these data, and the use of ‘domains of change’ provides a structure to this diagnosis.

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Cox, M. et  al. (2016) ‘Synthesizing theories of natural resource management and governance’, Global Environmental Change. Elsevier Ltd, 39, pp. 45–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.04.011. Cuomo, C.  J. (2017) ‘Against the Idea of an Anthropocene Epoch: Ethical, Political and Scientific Concerns’, Biogeosystem Technique, 4(1), pp. 4–8. doi: https://doi.org/10.13187/bgt.2017.1.4. Djelic, M.-L. and Quack, S. (2007) ‘Overcoming Path Dependency: Path Generation in Open Systems’, Theory and Society. Springer, 36(2), pp. 161–186. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/4501783. Doremus, H. (2005) ‘Science plays defense: Natural resource management in the Bush administration’, in Ecology Law Quarterly. doi: https://doi. org/10.15779/Z38BC3W. Eakin, H. et al. (2011) ‘Public Sector Reform and Governance for Adaptation: Implications of New Public Management for Adaptive Capacity in Mexico and Norway’, Environmental Management. New  York: Springer Science & Business Media, 47(3), pp.  338–351. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/ s00267-010-9605-0. Edmondson, B. and Levy, S. (2019) Transformative Climates and Accountable Governance. Springer. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-97400-2_1. Fedele, G. et  al. (2019) ‘Transformative adaptation to climate change for sustainable social-ecological systems’, Environmental Science and Policy. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2019.07.001. Ferguson, B. C., Brown, R. R. and Deletic, A. (2013) ‘Diagnosing transformative change in urban water systems: Theories and frameworks’, Global Environmental Change, 23(1), pp. 264–280. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378012000921. Folke, C. et  al. (2004) ‘REGIME SHIFTS, RESILIENCE, AND BIODIVERSITY IN ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT’, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 35(1), pp.  557–581. ­ doi:https://doi. org/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.35.021103.105711. Folke, C. et al. (2005) ‘Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems’, Annual Review of Environment and Resources. Annual Reviews, 30(1), pp. 441–473. doi: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.energy.30.050504.144511. Folke, C. et al. (2007) ‘The problem of fit between ecosystems and institutions: Ten years later’, Ecology and society, 12(1), p. 30. Available at: http://www. ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art30/.

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Hill, R., Halamish, E., et al. (2013) ‘The maturation of biodiversity as a global social–ecological issue and implications for future biodiversity science and policy’, Futures, 46, pp.  41–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. futures.2012.10.002. Hill, R. et  al. (2015) ‘A social–ecological systems analysis of impediments to delivery of the Aichi 2020 Targets and potentially more effective pathways to the conservation of biodiversity’, Global Environmental Change, 34, pp. 22–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.04.005. Holmes, G. (2015) ‘What do we talk about when we talk about biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene?’, Environment and Society: Advances in Research. Berghahn Journals, 6(1), pp. 87–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.3167/ ares.2015.060106. Hölscher, K., Frantzeskaki, N. and Loorbach, D. (2019) ‘Steering transformations under climate change: capacities for transformative climate governance and the case of Rotterdam, the Netherlands’, Regional Environmental Change, 19, pp. 791–805. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1329-3. Huntjens, P. et al. (2012) ‘Institutional design propositions for the governance of adaptation to climate change in the water sector’, Global Environmental Change, 22(1), pp.  67–81. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378011001506. Hutton, J., Adams, W. M. and Murombedzi, J. C. (2005) ‘Back to the barriers? Changing narratives in biodiversity conservation’, in Forum for development studies. Taylor & Francis, pp. 341–370. IPBES (2019a) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Edited by and H.  T. N.  E. S.  Brondizio, J.  Settele, S.  Díaz. Bonn, Germany. IPBES (2019b) Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Edited by and C. N. Z. S. Díaz, J. Settele, E. S. Brondízio E.S., H. T. Ngo, M. Guèze, J. Agard, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K. A. Brauman, S. H. M. Butchart, K. M. A. Chan, L. A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S. M. Subramanian, G. F. Midgley, P. Miloslavich, Z. Molnár, D. Obura, A. Bonn, Germany: IPBES Secretariat. Johnson, N., Miller, K. and Miranda, M. (2001) ‘Bioregional approaches to conservation: local strategies to deal with uncertainty’, in Dovers, S., Norton, T., and Handmer, J. W. (eds) Ecology, uncertainty and policy: managing ecosystems for sustainability. New York, NY: Pearson Education, pp. 43–65.

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Peterson, G. D. (2002) ‘Contagious disturbance, ecological memory, and the emergence of landscape pattern’, Ecosystems. Springer, 5(4), pp. 329–338. Pimm, S. L. et al. (2014) ‘The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection’, Science, 344(6187), p. 1246752. Plummer, R. et al. (2020) ‘How do biosphere stewards actively shape trajectories of social-ecological change?’, Journal of Environmental Management. Academic Press, 261, p.  110139. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2020.110139. Possingham, H.  P. (2008) ‘Biodiversity’, in Lindenmayer, D. et  al. (eds) Ten commitments: reshaping the lucky country’s environment. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Publishers, pp. 155–162. Powell, R. B. (2010) ‘Developing institutions to overcome governance barriers to ecoregional conservation’, in Landscape-scale Conservation Planning. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9575-6_4. Powell, W.  W. and DiMaggio, P.  J. (1991) The new institutionalism in organizational analysis. University of Chicago Press. Rands, M.  R. W. et  al. (2010) ‘Biodiversity conservation: Challenges beyond 2010’, Science, 329(5997), pp.  1298–1303. doi: https://doi.org/10.1126/ science.1189138. Rijke, J. et  al. (2012) ‘Fit-for-purpose governance: A framework to make adaptive governance operational’, Environmental Science & Policy, 22(0), pp. 73–84. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2012.06.010. Salafsky, N. et  al. (2008) ‘A standard lexicon for biodiversity conservation: Unified classifications of threats and actions’, Conservation Biology. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 22(4), pp.  897–911. doi: https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00937.x. Salt, D. and Lindenmayer, D. B. (2008) The Bowral Checklist: A framework for ecological management of landscapes. Canberra: Land & Water Australia. Available at: http://lwa.gov.au/files/products/native-vegetation-program/ pn21594/pn21594.pdf. Saltelli, A. and Giampietro, M. (2017) ‘What is wrong with evidence based policy, and how can it be improved?’, Futures. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. futures.2016.11.012. SCBD (2013) Convention on Biological Diversity. Montreal, Canada: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Available at: http://www.cbd.int/. Schoon, M. (2013) ‘Governance in Transboundary Conservation: How Institutional Structure and Path Dependence Matter’, Conservation and Society, 11(3), pp. 420–428. doi: https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-4923.125758.

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3 Domains of Change in Biodiversity Conservation

Given the state of evidence, it may seem an insurmountable task to reform governance. But as the previous chapter explored, the conditions of ecological transformation do not necessarily always mean we need to ‘transform’ governance. This is a heated debate amongst governance scholars to which there is no clear answer. Sometimes governance may be so dysfunctional that it must transform, but intentionally pursuing such radical change is unlikely to succeed unless many different factors come together at the same time. There is also no guarantee that such transformations will achieve better environmental outcomes, particularly given the fact that there are still so many unknowns about the relationship between governance features and environmental outcomes. Not all transformations are for the better. While there is a great deal of frustration with incremental change, given what is at stake if we continue on our current unsustainable path, the answer is not transformation or nothing. Understanding where changes might be needed most, based on our current understanding, can support a strategic approach that focuses on the most promising pathways and levers. Such changes can prepare the ground for more radical changes and reorient society towards a more sustainable trajectory. © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_3

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Governance reform, whether incremental or transformative, cannot single-­handedly make a ‘good’ Anthropocene possible, but it can certainly move us in a better direction. To explore how change could occur in a structured and intentional way, focusing on the most promising leverage points, this book integrates five broad ‘Domains of Change’ into the analysis that follows. These domains are not the only avenues for reforming governance, but they do constitute some of the major big picture challenges that have been found in reviewing the literature on novel ecosystems and governance (Clement and Standish 2018), biodiversity and the Anthropocene (c.f. Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014; Holmes 2015; Seddon et al. 2016; Sandbrook et al. 2019), and governance and the Anthropocene more generally (c.f. Arias-Maldonado and Trachtenberg 2019; Biermann 2007, 2014; Hickmann et al. 2018; Young 2017). These categories are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, they are very much overlapping and connected, and consideration of each domain can provide the foundation for consideration in the next domain. It is important to clarify that this book focuses primarily on biodiversity conservation, rather than on biodiversity per se. The distinction may seem pedantic, but it is quite important. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life, including diversity at the genetic level, species level, and ecosystem level. Those who focus on biodiversity research tend to focus on specific aspects of biodiversity, for example, species, habitats, ecosystem traits and their interactions, threatening processes (Wyborn et  al. 2020). Conservation is conceived of slightly more broadly in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as ‘conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties’ (SCBD 2013). In practice, the meaning of conservation has expanded well beyond either definition to encompass both the human and non-human elements of landscapes. Although it is easy to separate those who work on the social side of conservation from those who work on the biophysical side, in practice, those divides are already breaking down and need to be broken down further. Exploring novel ecosystems in their many iterations allows us to explore why we undertake conservation beyond just biodiversity and the

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component parts of ecosystems. This requires insights from both the biophysical sciences and the social sciences, both to understand the causes of environmental change and how to resolve them in a way that aligns with multiple, often competing, objectives. Critically, accepting that novel ecosystems have emerged and discussing what to do about them do not set aside efforts to target extinction and maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations of species in their native habitats (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b). Ecosystem function is about much more than species loss—it is also about gain, and many places in the world are actually seeing increasing species diversity as a result of non-native species (Thomas 2013, 2017). Although protecting and restoring native biodiversity can remain at the heart of conservation practice and one of its chief objectives, this can co-­ exist alongside other objectives. These objectives are not enduring features laid down in the manner of laws of nature. Although scientific evidence plays a central role, there are also whole host of norms, cultures, values, and ethical considerations that have already influenced how these practices and objectives are framed and implemented. Given the expansive and long-standing impact of humans on the biosphere, there is little choice but to bring together the human and non-human when considering the conservation of biodiversity.

Domains of Change Domain 1: How We Talk about Conservation (Stories) This domain focuses on the important role of framing and narratives in shaping biodiversity governance. Discussed in Chap. 1, narratives associated with the Anthropocene have brought together actors from many different communities and disciplines together to debate the meaning of environmental change and what should be done. Narratives not only help people makes sense of the world and reveal important values and beliefs, but they can also be transformative, providing models for a path forward, and can motivate action (Veland et al. 2018). The way the problem of biodiversity loss is framed is an important consideration within

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these narratives. This includes how problems relating to biodiversity loss, conservation, and restoration are defined, who and what is considered relevant to causing and resolving those problems, and what solutions are favoured or discounted. Anthropocene narratives suggest we are headed towards ‘undesirable’ transformations in the future, but they also provide stories about how we can move towards more just and sustainable futures for biodiversity (Veland et al. 2018; Wyborn et al. 2020). Without engaging new narratives around what biodiversity futures might look like in the Anthropocene and how we might get there, it is difficult to deliberate over what constitutes ‘desirable’ futures, let alone the pathways that might lead to such futures. The narratives and frames that we use to talk about problems and their resolutions reflect how we think and what we believe now, but effective narratives can also reshape the way we think about problems and solutions. They thus shape institutions, policies, and processes in important ways, which determine how we intervene (Shanahan et al. 2011; Clement et al. 2016, b; Clement and Standish 2018). Just like any other story, conservation narratives are used to make sense of events and actions, and they should not be accepted at face value. They reveal values and beliefs about what should be done and how, and they can vary significantly across cultures and contexts, so they are intertwined with Domain 2. What is considered ‘natural’, as well as what is considered worthy of protection, is not based merely on objective observation of historical ecosystems even before humans created the Anthropocene. Anyone who is engaged in biodiversity conservation, whether a scientist, a policymaker, or an engaged member of the public, can use narratives to convince others that a particular way of understanding and solving a problem is the right approach. Communicating in conservation is not just about relaying facts but also about telling stories. There is little power in a graph or a table without a story to accompany it. Most conservationists have particular ecosystems or species that drew them into conservation in the first place, and those stories shape the ways that they understand and engage with conservation. Framing is a linguistic tool that elevates or makes particular elements of these stories more salient, and thus even informal debates about how problems should be framed have substantive impacts on what is

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considered worthy of attention. There are limits to our cognitive abilities to deal with complexity, and thus frames are vital to organising our thoughts, developing our identities (both professionally and personally), and deciding how to conduct ourselves (Goffman 1974). This means they have flow-on effects to each subsequent domain. Framing influences both what is considered worthy of protection and what options are on the table. It determines what is and is not on the conservation agenda, and ultimately influences how the confluence of facts, values, and interests is translated into policy (Fünfgeld and McEvoy 2014). The stories that we are told and tell ourselves, and the specific elements of those stories that are elevated, can play powerful roles in shaping ideas about what a new, fit-for-purpose version of biodiversity conservation and governance ‘should’ look like in the Anthropocene. These stories and frames are a key reason why policy is shaped not just by facts but also by the way those facts are presented and shaped into a story within a particular context.

Domain 2: How We Think About Conservation (Ideas) This domain considers the origin of ideas in culture, norms, and assumptions. Culture has not only created this new geologic epoch, but it also permeates the ways in which we understand and respond to the challenges it brings. One of the concerns about biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene is that it challenges the way we connect with and value nature, including biodiversity within human-shaped landscapes. Underpinning a great deal of the anxiety in the novel ecosystems literature is the concern about what they represent for our typical ideas about nature. In general, conservation is wedded to somewhat romantic notions about what landscapes used to look like, which anchors our thinking about what they should look like today. Essentially, this domain considers how the concept of the Anthropocene and the evident transformation of ecosystems as a result are confronting for the way cultures connect with, perceive, and value ecosystems. What flows from this cultural foundation are norms about what constitutes conservation and what is the accepted practice to get there; hence, it connects to the other domains of

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change. Importantly, norms also capture some of the fundamental questions about ethics and democratic governance that consistently emerge in the literature: accountability, legitimacy, and fairness (Table 3.1). These concepts can help us reflect on fundamental democratic principles that are potentially undermined (or supported) if we change the way things are done. In seeking to change institutions, reflecting on the culture, norms, and ethical principles that underpin current governance systems gets to the core of why we do conservation and who it is for. It considers whether transformed ecosystems like novel ecosystems will be valued, and what the implications are if they do (e.g. does this mean historical fidelity is no longer important?) or if they do not (e.g. does this mean people will de-­ value nature and allow it to be further degraded?). Importantly, it allows to interrogate not just the culture and norms of the public or the organisations involved in conservation but also the experts who play an important role in sustaining current practices and shaping what is considered ‘good practice’.

 omain 3: How We Decide About D Conservation (Objectives) Viewing the failure to halt the loss of biodiversity thus far, alongside what we know about the Anthropocene and the Earth’s trajectory, it seems reasonable to conclude that in many cases conservation goals and objectives might need to change to reflect dramatically altered conditions. More fundamentally, the underlying logic of decision making might need to change to adapt to this new world worder. At a minimum, it seems reasonable to revisit what it means to conserve biodiversity in the Anthropocene and what success looks like in novel ecosystems and other altered landscapes. Part of this is about adjusting baselines and allowing for new approaches. Our approaches to managing ecosystems are laudable but inherently conservative, anchoring management and policy objectives to goals that aim for historical baselines (e.g. pre-European settlement in Australia and America) that align with notions of ‘ideal’ landscapes of the past. All conservation decisions are socially constructed, and this is one reason why we see such widely varying approaches to what is considered ‘nature’ and what is worthy of protection across the world (Backstrom et al. 2018). Notion of an ‘ideal’

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Table 3.1  Governance principles, definitions, and implications for the Anthropocene Principle

Elements

Accountability Accountability relates to the capacity of actors to keep those who possess authority in check (Hahn 2011). It concerns:  The allocation and acceptance of responsibility for decisions and actions;  The extent to which a governing body is answerable to its constituency;  The extent to which a governing body is answerable to ‘higher-level’ authorities; and  Allocation of responsibilities to those institutional levels that best match the scale of issues and values being addressed (Lockwood 2010) Accountability needs to be both ‘upward’ and ‘downward’. This means, for example, that local governments should be answerable to a higher-level authority (upward), as well as to the communities they serve (downward) Fairness Fairness is often used in place of equality, because sometimes for situations to be fair, they need to be inequitable to redress existing inequities. Fairness refers to:  The respect and attention given to stakeholders’ views;  Reciprocal respect between higher and lower level authorities;  Consistency and absence of personal bias in decision-making;  Recognition of human and indigenous rights;  Recognition of the intrinsic value of nature; and  The consideration given to the intra- and intergenerational distribution of costs and benefits of decisions. (Lockwood 2010) Legitimacy Legitimacy is ‘the acceptance and justification of shared rule by a community. The question of legitimacy concerns who is entitled to make rules and how authority itself is generated’ (Bernstein 2004). Legitimacy is therefore a key factor in the ethical acceptability of governance arrangements. It encompasses:   The validity of an organisation’s authority to govern that may be: conferred by law or democratic mandate; earned through the acceptance of stakeholders; and/or earned through long association with a particular place;   The extent to which the governing body’s decisions and actions are consistent with its mandate and the objectives of the areas for which it is responsible; and   The integrity and commitment with which authority is exercised (Lockwood 2010)

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state is normative, incorporating varying degrees of data, knowledge, history, and culture. It seems that the Anthropocene is calling on us to reflect on some very basic questions, including what it means to ‘succeed’ in conservation (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b; Holmes 2015; Jacobs et al. 2015; Clement and Standish 2018). This moving of the goal posts can be anxiety-­provoking for those who work in conservation. To shift the goal posts could mean surrendering to the idea that we cannot succeed under the parameters that we set ourselves. This could open the door to all manner of negative consequences, including the idea that conserving native biodiversity is no longer relevant. This is rightly concerning for conservationists, particularly given the challenges faced so far and the clear disregard for the aspirational targets we have set ourselves in the past as a global community, as well as at the local and national levels. Viewed in this way, it is perhaps why hope and grief, optimism and pessimism, and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ futures are such strong themes in writings about the Anthropocene. If the prevalent idea of what landscapes ‘should’ look like is anchored to the Holocene, but the pressures, context, and so much else have changed, then grieving for what was meant to be is the natural conclusion. Grieving for what we thought we could achieve is another. On the other hand, if we have created a ‘new’ human planet, hope lies in the notion that we can also create new goals. These goals need not lead to further degradation, but they will likely involve elevating the value of attributes that have thus far been de-valued, such as non-native species and public perceptions. It is not inherently ‘correct’ to either hope or grieve, but it does highlight that biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene must necessarily stretch well beyond the science of environmental change to consider how objectives can reflect the reality in which we find ourselves. New logics of decision making must necessarily flow from the previous domains of change, as they should be informed by new ways of thinking, understanding, and talking about conservation. This particular domain also relates to why we make decisions. This flows from our understandings of whether or not the functional purpose of governance systems needs to change, either to facilitate incremental changes to achieve similar objectives (e.g. maintain an ecosystem in a close-to-natural state and minimise non-native species) or to accept that those objectives are no longer feasible and thus objectives should focus on some other element

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(e.g. providing carbon sequestration and recreational benefits). Essentially, reflecting on the logics of decision-making requires a frank look at whether current objectives are fit-for-purpose, how they might need to change, and whether that change should be incremental or radical.

Domain 4: How We Structure Conservation (Policies) This domain focuses on policy instruments and governance structures. Reflection on the frames, objectives, and normative foundations of institutions in the first three domains will inevitably lead to ideas about how to change instruments used to conserve biodiversity (e.g. laws, regulations, incentives, policies, strategies). In most cases, the ways actors, institutions, and networks are structured, and how they are coordinated and interact across scales, will also need to change. It is common to focus on particular instruments that are favoured in conservation, such as terrestrial or marine protected areas or incentives for private landholders to conserve biodiversity. It is also common to focus on particular processes or governance modes, such as regional catchment management, ‘bottom­up’ governance that empowers communities, or top-town approaches with strong central authorities. However, it is important to distinguish between the normative principles and commitments that underpin conservation and the instruments used to meet those commitments, as there are many different ways to achieve the same goals (Young 2017). In other words, it is essential to not confuse means with ends, and much time and money have been wasted in biodiversity conservation as a result of this common confusion (Wallace 2003). The instruments of governance and the structures in place are important ways to achieve goals and targets, but it is about finding the right tools and processes that will move us towards those commitments. These instruments and structures should not be considered fixed or immovable features. In order for governance systems to be robust, they need to be able to adjust their responses in the face of unstable environments over time to achieve the desired outcomes (Anderies and Janssen 2013; Morrison 2017; Clement et al. 2019). This means it is critical to

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devise procedures that make it easy to carry out corrections mid-course to address poor fit (Young 2017). This capacity can be built (Domain 5), or it can be embedded in the instruments themselves, for example, through responsive regulation and reflexive legal mechanisms (Kotzé 2017). Given that ecosystems are impacted by activities from many different domains, this will likely require changes, not just to the instruments and structures dedicated to conserving biodiversity. More effective biodiversity conservation may require changes to institutions targeting other problems (e.g. land degradation, climate change) or leveraging synergies between these efforts, in order to tackle multiple problems at once. This is increasingly reflected in efforts to find solutions that target multiple functions, as reflected in the emergence of concepts such as ecosystem services, natural capital, and nature-based solutions, all of which can improve the health of ecosystems but see biodiversity as just one of many goals. The change dynamics highlighted earlier focused on many of the informal structures and institutional dynamics that facilitate change. However, formal authority, legislative mandate, and the promulgations of rules— including incentives for compliance and sanctions for non-compliance— are still essential. They can act as a safety net alongside informal institutions, and they can also formalise and allocate responsibility, empower actors to take action, and provide mechanisms for ensuring good democratic governance (e.g. legitimacy, accountability, fairness, and transparency). They codify goals and can also provide much-needed stability, which is still essential even in an era characterised by change. Reflexivity and adaptability are not ideals in and of themselves, but they are strategies to continue to combat the drivers of biodiversity loss in the context of dynamic social, economic, and ecological conditions. Structures can ensure that a governance system endures even in the face of change. What form governance takes could also be important, but it is unlikely to be the most important area of change in this domain. Governance is often discussed in terms of modes (e.g. networked, polycentric, collaborative) or models (e.g. adaptive, reflexive, anticipatory), but again there is no ‘right’ mode. Complex structures are often thought to be better for complex problems because they can provide backup if one part of the system fails, but in reality, they can also obscure failures and make

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governance more fragile. The structures of governance, again, must necessarily match the context and how the problem manifests in that context (fit), rather than being driven by a particular ideal.

Domain 5: How We Act (Capacities) There are clearly core, fundamental capacities that are required to enable effective action. These include time, money, human resources, skills, and knowledge. These are important in any governance system and are basic prerequisites for action. For biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene, there is also a need to be able to deal with complexity, uncertainty, and incomplete knowledge in both social and ecological systems, and to adapt to changing conditions in both realms. As discussed in Chap. 2, the concept of adaptive capacity is central to ideas about how governance can more effectively deal with ecosystem transformation and is key to reforming governance systems, regardless of whether the goal is incremental or radical change. Adaptive capacity is not just a latent feature; it needs to not only exist but also be deployed as and when it is needed. While there are perhaps hundreds of variables that support adaptive capacity, there are particular areas where adaptive capacity is especially important for conserving biodiversity and confronting ecosystem transformation. For example (Clement et al. 2016, b): • Buffering capacity refers to the ability to direct responses to the right drivers and being able to manage internal and external influences in both social and ecological systems. Given the inherent uncertainty and incomplete knowledge that we have about SESs, it is prudent to have multiple approaches and backup plans (i.e. redundancy and safety nets) to avoid systematic failure of governance. • Self-organising capacity considers whether actors are empowered to act at the right scales. It also considers whether there are networks for people working in biodiversity conservation (as well as support for those networks), as these can provide informal spaces for sharing knowledge and experience. It can also influence formal networks by providing new ideas and approaches.

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• Leadership capacity includes those in conventional leadership roles as well as individuals outside those roles who perform leadership functions, such as providing a vision for change and actively working to change cultures within conservation organisations. The type of leadership needed (e.g. intellectual, charismatic, entrepreneurial) varies across time and contexts, depending on other social, economic, and political circumstances. • Learning capacity includes feedback, self-reflection, and system understanding, and it is thought to be critical for dealing with complexity and uncertainty that are so pervasive in the Anthropocene. Feedback includes monitoring and ideally uses of diverse sources of knowledge and evidence, and systems understanding incorporates the idea that biodiversity is a part of a wider social-ecological system and needs to be understood with reference to the whole system. Reflexivity captures the idea that learning is progressive and requires critical scrutiny of not just data but also of habits and routines to improve practice and, ultimately, outcomes for biodiversity. This last category has perhaps proven the most challenging, both for scholars and for developing adaptive capacity in practice. It can be very challenging to act on incomplete information, and to decide on an action when our knowledge of ecological and social systems is so incomplete. For this reason, a fifth category of capacity has emerged, particularly in the anticipatory governance literature. In what could be called anticipatory capacities, the focus is on building capacities in foresight, engagement, and integration (Guston 2014). Essentially, the latter two, that is, engagement and integration, incorporate principles of co-production (Chap. 2), where knowledge is produced across science, policy, and societal actors. Effective knowledge governance brings all of these ideas together under a single umbrella; the concept of knowledge governance is explored in Chaps. 6 and 7. There is also a focus on what tools can foster anticipatory and learning capacities, particularly with respect to foresight. Foresight refers to the idea that, when governing complex systems, it is impossible to model a single future end state. Models point in many different directions, so it is important to adopt methodologies that allow exploration of multiple

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plausible futures and that include not just scientific evidence but also normative considerations. This can include sensitivity analysis, simulations, SES modelling, and collaborative scenario planning methodologies, which have been used in the research methods in many of the case studies in later chapters (Clement et al. 2015a, b; Mitchell et al. 2015; Mitchell et al. 2016; Clement et al. 2019). The idea of knowledge production being a collaborative process rather than a top-down process informed by experts is a daunting prospect for many who care about conservation as well as many actors working in public agencies, because it implies letting go of the idea that there is a single right answer and can compromise biodiversity outcomes if the processes is co-opted by particular interest groups. Such ideas are also challenging for those who might prefer having an expert who can give a clear, simple answer on ‘what to do’, but the reality of biodiversity conservation (and the Anthropocene more generally) is that there are few such answers. Avoiding some of these pitfalls is partly about good knowledge governance, but the reality is that expert knowledge is never the only knowledge considered in policymaking, and evidence is always informed by values and used normatively, even amongst experts, which is a major theme throughout this book, but particularly in Chaps. 6 and 7. With respect to each of these areas of adaptive capacity, it is clear that successful transformation towards a more sustainable path is shaped both by human agency and social and biophysical conditions (Moore et  al. 2014). If the objective is to steer towards a particular path, it is even more pressing to consider the active work of individuals to push towards more ‘desirable’ pathways, however defined. There are a number of concrete strategies that can be used by actors to change all three aspects of institutions, which are collectively referred to as institutional work (Table 3.2). Some of the most successful individuals who employ these strategies are known as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’, which refer to actors who actively work to transform existing institutions or create new ones (DiMaggio 1988; Battilana et al. 2009). These entrepreneurs are often not in conventional leadership roles, but they are agents of change who perform leadership functions that are critical to adaptive capacity (Clement et al. 2016, b). Because they are familiar with the institutional context, they play

Norms, i.e. beliefs, assumptions, norms of behaviour, cultural constructs

Cognitive aspects, i.e. thought processes, problem frames, decision logics

Targets of change in institutions

• Mimicry: associating new practices with taken-for-granted practices to make them feel more familiar and readily adoptable • Theorising: developing and naming concepts and practices to support them becoming part of the way people understand and respond • Educating: providing the skills and knowledge necessary to support new practices and how they connect with existing practice • Constructing identities: deliberately working to redefine the relationship between the actor and the field in which they operate • Changing normative associations: remaking the connections between practices and the moral and cultural foundations of those practices. This may initially support new parallel practices which ultimately lead actors to question norms in other areas • Constructing normative networks: development of informal networks where new norms and standards of practice can develop, including standards for compliance, monitoring, and evaluation

• Undermining assumptions and beliefs: undermining core assumptions and beliefs to minimise the effort and perceived risk of adopting a new practice • Disassociating moral foundations: going around or undermining what is accepted practice in a particular context to gradually disassociate new practices from what is considered typically acceptable

Disrupting (challenge current Creating (developing alternative institutions) institutions)

Table 3.2  Ways to change institutions through institutional work

• Valorising: providing and narrating positive examples that illustrate new norms • Demonising: providing negative examples that illustrate why old norms were problematic • Mythologising: preserving new norms by creating and sustaining stories (myths) regarding its history and relevance

• Embedding and routinising: actively infusing norms of a new institution into day-to-day routines and practices to help maintain innovations

Maintaining (upholding current or new institutions)

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• Disconnecting • Defining: conferring status or identity, sanctions and defining boundaries of membership, or rewards: creating hierarchies within a field through disconnecting new rule systems • Vesting: creating rule structures that confer rewards and sanctions from a rights set of practices or • Advocacy: mobilising political and rules regulatory support

Adapted from Lawrence and Suddaby (2006)

Regulatory aspects, i.e. rules, rewards, sanctions for noncompliance.

• Deterring: establishing coercive barriers to change • Enabling: creation of rules that facilitate, supplement, and support current institutions, such as authorisation or diverting resources. • Policing: ensuring compliance through auditing, monitoring, and imposing sanctions for noncompliance

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important roles in generating change from within a governance system, using strategies such as those outlined in Table 3.2 to foster incremental or radical change as and when required. There are potentially many other strategies that can be used, but simply examining the ways in which actors can actively change institutions in multiple domains is informative when trying to change institutions and can highlight where adaptive capacity can be built in practice (Bettini et al. 2015; Beunen et al. 2017; Beunen and Patterson 2019). It would be impossible to focus on the minutiae for each of these in the case studies, but being aware of these strategies can be useful for those seeking to change institutions in a particular context. Beyond this, there are a few important take-home messages from this body of literature that can be drawn on when considering how to reform biodiversity governance to improve fit: • Many of these strategies are only apparent at the granular level because they involve just a few key people. This may seem overwhelming when the Anthropocene is characterised by changes to the whole Earth System. However, some practices can be scaled up and beyond individual institutional contexts to influence whole systems of governance, and also these smaller scales can provide ‘proof of concept’ that can have ripple effects throughout the whole system. • Agency is involved in every stage of the process. There is active work involved, not just in creating new institutions and challenging current institutions but also in maintaining existing institutions. Small changes are happening in institutions all of the time, even if they seem to stay the same. • A great deal of change is generated through informal processes. Well before any innovation becomes embedded in formal laws, policies, or plans, there are actors and networks working to change institutions. Just as in discussions about the Anthropocene, framing and narratives play central roles in change processes, both about new practices and about fundamental norms, values, and ways of thinking about these practices.

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• Innovations, whether they are related to practices or to the way concepts, ideas, and problems are framed, may not immediately change the status quo. Often, they lead to the development of new, parallel institutions, and involvement in these new institutions can lead actors to question whether ‘the way things are done’ is the right way. Having these parallel institutions ‘at the ready’ provides adaptive capacity. It is clear that there is no recipe for how to change institutions or governance systems to more effectively conserve biodiversity. It is difficult to even know what changes to governance are most important for improving our thus far dismal record in halting biodiversity loss and conserving important functions of ecosystems. What is clear, based on all that has been discussed, is that there is a need for institutions to fit the attributes of the problem, and that approaching reforms as a process of diagnosis can identify key areas of mismatch. Transformation, or at least incremental changes that intentionally build towards more radical change, is likely to be required. The dynamics of institutional change make such transformations difficult to engineer, but we do have insights into how we can actively shape institutions and the levers that are more likely to generate the sort of deep, fundamental changes that are required. Adaptive capacity can fuel both incremental and radical changes, but exactly how to understand and build this capacity in practice is still at the frontiers of knowledge. Building on the examples in this book and on the concept of ‘governance as scaffolding’, there are certainly promising pathways for reforming governance that can build towards transformative change. Scaffolding can also be considered using the metaphor of ‘building blocks,’ where smaller changes can provide the seeds for transformative change (Andrachuk et al. 2018). They are context-specific, often local, and thus relevant for particular places and times. They are not static or linear, and they take many different shapes and require consideration of different elements of a governance system. This again emphasises that there is no blueprint, but rather a series of questions we can ask ourselves when trying to catalyse change in a particular place. This is the purpose of diagnosing fit across each of these domains in different places: not to find a single answer, but to identify potential building blocks for change.

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References Anderies, J.  M. and Janssen, M.  A. (2013) ‘Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems: Implications for Public Policy’, Policy Studies Journal, 41(3), pp. 513–536. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12027. Andrachuk, M. et al. (2018) ‘Building blocks for social-ecological transformations: Identifying and building on governance successes for small-scale fisheries’, Ecology and Society. Resilience Alliance, 23(2). doi: https://doi. org/10.5751/ES-10006-230226. Arias-Maldonado, M. and Trachtenberg, Z. (2019) Rethinking the Environment for the Anthropocene: Political Theory and Socionatural Relations in the New Geological Epoch. Taylor & Francis. Available at: https://books.google.com. au/books?id=5vmADwAAQBAJ. Backstrom, A. C. et al. (2018) ‘Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16(2), pp. 109–117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1769. Battilana, J., Leca, B. and Boxenbaum, E. (2009) ‘How Actors Change Institutions: Towards a Theory of Institutional Entrepreneurship’, The Academy of Management Annals. Routledge, 3(1), pp. 65–107. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1080/19416520903053598. Bernstein, S. (2004) ‘Legitimacy in global environmental governance’, Journal of International Law and International Relations, 1(1–2), pp. 139–166. Available at: https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/jilwirl1&i=141. Bettini, Y., Brown, R.  R. and de Haan, F.  J. (2015) ‘Exploring institutional adaptive capacity in practice: Examining water governance adaptation in Australia’, Ecology and Society. Resilience Alliance, 20(1). doi: https://doi. org/10.5751/ES-07291-200147. Beunen, R., Patterson, J. and Van Assche, K. (2017) ‘Governing for resilience: the role of institutional work’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 28, pp. 10–16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.04.010. Beunen, R. and Patterson, J. J. (2019) ‘Analysing institutional change in environmental governance: exploring the concept of “institutional work”’, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. doi: https://doi.org/10.108 0/09640568.2016.1257423. Biermann, F. (2007) ‘“Earth system governance” as a crosscutting theme of global change research’, Global Environmental Change. Pergamon, 17(3–4), pp. 326–337. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.11.010.

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Biermann, F. (2014) Earth System Governance World Politics in the Anthropocene. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1287hkh. Clement, S., Moore, Susan A, et al. (2015a) ‘Understanding and designing fit-­ for-­purpose institutions for conserving biodiversity in the Australian Alps’. Hobart: Landscapes and Policy Hub. Available at: http://www.lifeatlarge.edu. au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/653506/Alps-Institutional-Analysis.pdf. Clement, S., Moore, Susan A., et al. (2015b) ‘Using insights from pragmatism to develop reforms that strengthen institutional competence for conserving biodiversity’, Policy Sciences, 48(4), pp.  463–489. doi: https://doi. org/10.1007/s11077-015-9222-0. Clement, S. et al. (2016) ‘A diagnostic framework for biodiversity conservation institutions’, Pacific Conservation Biology, 21(4), pp. 277–290. Clement, S., Guerrero Gonzalez, A. and Wyborn, C. (2019) ‘Understanding Effectiveness in its Broader Context: Assessing Case Study Methodologies for Evaluating Collaborative Conservation Governance’, Society and Natural Resources. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2018.1556761. Clement, S., Moore, S.  A. and Lockwood, M. (2016) ‘Letting the managers manage: Analyzing capacity to conserve biodiversity in a cross-border protected area network’, Ecology and Society, 21(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.5751/ ES-08171-210339. Clement, S. and Standish, R. J. (2018) ‘Novel ecosystems: Governance and conservation in the age of the Anthropocene’, Journal of Environmental Management, 208, pp.  36–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2017.12.013. DiMaggio, P. J. (1988) ‘Interest and agency in institutional theory’, in Zucker, L. (ed.) Institutional patterns and organizations: Culture and Environment. Cambridge, MA, USA: Ballinger Pub Co, pp. 3–21. Fünfgeld, H. and McEvoy, D. (2014) ‘Frame divergence in climate change adaptation policy: insights from Australian local government planning’, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 32(4), pp. 603–622. Goffman, E. (1974) Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press. Guston, D. H. (2014) ‘Understanding “anticipatory governance”’, Social Studies of Science, 44(2), pp.  218–242. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/ 0306312713508669. Hahn, T. (2011). ‘Self-organized governance networks for ecosystem management: who is accountable?’, Ecology and Society, 16(2), p. 18. Available at: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss2/art18/main.html.

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Hickmann, T. et  al. (2018) The Anthropocene debate and political science, The Anthropocene Debate and Political Science. doi: https://doi.org/10.4324/ 9781351174121. Hobbs, Richard J., Higgs, E.  S. and Hall, C.  M. (2013a) ‘Defining Novel Ecosystems’, in Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118354186.ch6. Hobbs, Richard J, Higgs, E.  S. and Hall, C.  M. (2013b) ‘Novel ecosystems: intervening in the new ecological world order’. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. xi, 368 p. Holmes, G. (2015) ‘What do we talk about when we talk about biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene?’, Environment and Society: Advances in Research. Berghahn Journals, 6(1), pp. 87–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.3167/ ares.2015.060106. Jacobs, D.  F. et  al. (2015) ‘Restoring forests: What constitutes success in the twenty-first century?’, New Forests, 46, pp.  601–614. doi: https://doi. org/10.1007/s11056-015-9513-5. Kotzé, L. (2017) Environmental law and governance for the Anthropocene. Edited by L. Kotzé. Oxford, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. Kueffer, C. and Kaiser-Bunbury, C. N. (2014) ‘Reconciling conflicting perspectives for biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Ecological Society of America, 12(2), pp.  131–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1890/120201. Lawrence, T. B. and Suddaby, R. (2006) ‘Institutions and Institutional Work’, in Clegg, S. R. et al. (eds) Handbook of organization studies. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd, pp. 215–254. Lockwood, M. (2010) ‘Good governance for terrestrial protected areas: A framework, principles and performance outcomes’, Journal of Environmental Management, 91(3), pp. 754–766. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman. 2009.10.005. Mitchell, M. et  al. (2015) ‘Scenario analysis for biodiversity conservation: A social-ecological system approach in the Australian Alps’, Journal of Environmental Management, 150. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2014.11.013. Mitchell, M., Lockwood, M., Moore, S. A. and Clement, S. (2016) ‘Building systems-based scenario narratives for novel biodiversity futures in an agricultural landscape’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 145. doi: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.09.003.

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Moore, M. L. et al. (2014) ‘Studying the complexity of change: Toward an analytical framework for understanding deliberate social-ecological transformations’, Ecology and Society, 9(4), p.  54. doi: https://doi.org/10.5751/ ES-06966-190454. Morrison, T. H. (2017) ‘Evolving polycentric governance of the Great Barrier Reef ’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: https://doi. org/10.1073/pnas.1620830114. Sandbrook, C. et al. (2019) ‘The global conservation movement is diverse but not divided’, Nature Sustainability, 2(4), pp.  316–323. doi: https://doi. org/10.1038/s41893-019-0267-5. SCBD (2013) Convention on Biological Diversity. Montreal, Canada: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Available at: http://www.cbd.int/. Seddon, N. et al. (2016) ‘Biodiversity in the Anthropocene: Prospects and policy’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1844), pp. 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2094. Shanahan, E. A., Jones, M. D. and McBeth, M. K. (2011) ‘Policy Narratives and Policy Processes’, Policy Studies Journal. Blackwell Publishing Inc, 39(3), pp. 535–561. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0072.2011.00420.x. Thomas, C.  D. (2013) ‘The Anthropocene could raise biological diversity’, Nature News, 502(7469), p. 7. Thomas, C. D. (2017) Inheritors of the Earth. London: Penguin. Veland, S. et al. (2018) ‘Narrative matters for sustainability: the transformative role of storytelling in realizing 1.5°C futures’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Elsevier B.V., 31, pp. 41–47. doi: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.12.005. Wallace, K. J. (2003) ‘Confusing means with ends: A manager’s reflections on experience in agricultural landscapes of Western Australia’, Ecological Management & Restoration. Blackwell Science Pty, 4(1), pp.  23–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2003.00134.x. Wyborn, C. et al. (2020) Research and action agenda for sustaining diverse and just futures for life on Earth. Young, O. R. (2017) Governing Complex Systems, Governing Complex Systems. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/ 9780262035934.001.0001.

4 Novel Decisions and Conservative Frames

The key concerns and controversies that have arisen in the discussion around novel ecosystems are not unique to these systems. Rather, the concept has helped bring many of the existing tensions and debates in conservation and restoration to the fore and prompted discussion across many disciplines and amongst decision-makers and practitioners. Though the concept itself is a lightning rod for some, for the most part, the challenges and points of contention are nuanced and not clear-cut, building on discussions over several decades amongst biodiversity experts. The reason novel ecosystems provide such an interesting focus for governance is because they bring into focus the key sticking points and underlying anxieties that are common across many domains of Anthropocene research. For example, what does the emergence of novel ecosystems say about us and our impact on the planet? What do they mean for biodiversity specifically and conservation more generally? If we accept that changes have occurred and develop new goals, does that mean we have given up? Will it open the door to even more degradation? Does it mean we just give up on tackling some of the cornerstones of conservation practice, such as removal of non-native species? If we no longer seek to return ecosystems to their ‘ideal’ state, does this mean we have absolved © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_4

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ourselves of responsibility? These questions are merely variations on the same themes that are evident in narratives about the Anthropocene. Discussions of novel ecosystems have been predictably provocative among those involved in conservation. However, it is easy to overplay how contentious the novel ecosystems concept has been because there have been vociferous opponents, many of whom are well-known and well-respected in their field. Some feel the concept of embracing novel ecosystems is not just problematic. It has the potential to be dangerous— a slippery slope. Despite evidence that wholesale rejection of the concept is rare in the literature (Hobbs 2017), there are vocal critics and concerns about whether the concept is at best a distraction for conservation and at worse an invitation to further degrade or even ‘trash’ ecosystems (Murcia et al. 2014; Simberloff 2015; Simberloff et al. 2015). Among detractors, novel ecosystems can be seen as a crisis in conservation that will only serve to worsen our conservation track record. The mere fact that novel ecosystems have emerged can be viewed as a symbol of how we have failed, as well as a reminder of what we as a society have lost in the Anthropocene. It represents uneven losses for different people in society, and it represents not just the loss of nature but, for many, the loss of culture. It also impacts experts directly, representing either an erosion of cultural and professional norms or the evolution of a field that could harken a paradigm shift. Neither is comfortable for many conservationists. For others, the concept is just an acknowledgement of what is being observed across the world. The concept of novel ecosystems provides an anchor for discussion, research, and management that has value, especially on this human planet. There are concerns that the term invokes an idea of an unusual or intriguing future that is out of step with the realities we are facing. While there are a few somewhat hopeful accounts of novel ecosystems, or at least biodiversity on a transformed planet (c.f. Marris 2011; Bennett et al. 2016; Thomas 2017), for the most part, the novel ecosystems literature is not really brimming with optimism. Incorporating novel ecosystems into the toolkit does, however, shift the focus from dwelling on loss to what can be done in the world’s most altered systems. Finding pragmatic ways to confront transformation can provide a focal point away from grieving for what has been lost, to focus more on what

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still exists and what can be gained by bringing novel ecosystems (and other categories of human-made landscapes) into the fold of conservation and restoration practice. These systems already exist but are often neglected, but deciding how, where, and why to manage them provides an opportunity to intentionally restore social and ecological values. These are values they would not otherwise provide if we continue to neglect them. While we could aim to make them look like the ecosystems of several 100 years ago, this is likely to be technically difficult, expensive, and would probably require ongoing intervention in the context of rapid environmental change. There is hope that losses can be minimised through restoration of some landscapes, but this must be grounded in pragmatism (Hobbs 2013). It is not particularly optimistic, but it is grounded in feasibility; that is, finding ways to engage with the world that we now have, rather than hoping for the world to be different or dwelling on the world as we wished it would be (Head 2016). Neither is this hope resting on some high-tech solution or human innovation, as some of the ecomodernists do. There are, of course, many knowledge gaps, but there are still ways to incorporate the management of these systems and intervene right now, imperfect as those means may be. It is unlikely that any changes to governance will successfully reconcile the conflicting perspectives or bridge the divisions in these debates. However, we can take these concerns seriously when considering what can be done about novel ecosystems and address them when seeking to modernise governance in the Anthropocene. This chapter outlines the broad strokes of this debate relevant to the governance and management of novel ecosystems, drawing on a review of the ecological literature on novel ecosystems (Clement and Standish 2018) that has been broadened out to reflect perspectives from the humanities and social sciences. The primary focus is on the first domain (narratives and framing) because this has flow-on effects for the other four. Three case studies are summarised to demonstrate how to think about these issues with respect to different types of ecosystems and in different contexts. This context-specificity is not unique in the novel ecosystems literature, which—as we will see— has covered different contexts across the world. However, it has thus far engaged minimally with the governance and institutional change

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literature (Chap. 2). Bringing principles of change down to national and subnational levels has also been lacking in the largely monolithic considerations of governance in the Anthropocene, where there is a need for more localised, nuanced, and socially grounded understandings of changes and responses (Biermann et al. 2016). In this chapter, the governance of novel ecosystems is explored first generally and then with respect to grasslands in Australia. Grasslands are often linked to human use, so they are frequently found in the novel ecosystems literature, but rarely with respect to governance. They also demonstrate the power of framing and its flow on effects to other domains. Subsequent chapters broaden out the concept of novel ecosystems to explore emerging issues and frontiers relevant to preparing for and addressing ecosystem transformation in the Anthropocene.

A Brief Overview of the Concept Before broadening out the topic of novel ecosystems, it is worthwhile exploring how they are defined in the novel ecosystems literature. The term ‘novel ecosystems’ was never meant to refer to all ecosystems that have been changed by humans. Such a term would be of little use in the Anthropocene, where there is vanishingly little that can be described as pristine. Instead, novel ecosystems emerged out of the idea that some ecosystems have been so extensively modified by humans that they are thought to have crossed a threshold, and thus would be difficult (or perhaps impossible) to restore to their historical state. The term is relatively recent, having originated in a 1997 paper (Chapin and Starfield 1997), but was popularised in 2006; however, it builds on ecological ideas that have been around for several decades before that (Hobbs et al. 2006). The observation that many places were seeing unique combinations of native and non-native species and dynamics not observed before had previously led to discussions around ‘synanthropic floras,’ ‘synthetic vegetation,’ ‘emerging ecosystems,’ ‘no-analog ecosystems,’ and ‘recombinant ecologies,’ amongst other concepts (Milton 2003; Murcia et al. 2014; Truitt et al. 2015; Rotherham 2017). There is no single definition of novel ecosystems or single framework that is used, in part because there is still

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debate over these topics. One of the most prominent definitions that has developed through discussion and deliberation is: A novel ecosystem is a system of abiotic, biotic and social components (and their interactions) that, by virtue of human influence, differ from those that prevailed historically, having a tendency to self-organize and manifest novel qualities without intensive human management. Novel ecosystems are distinguished from hybrid ecosystems by practical limitations (a combination of ecological, environmental and social thresholds) on the recovery of historical qualities. (Hobbs et al. 2013a p. 104)

Several aspects of this definition, in addition to the limits on restoration, are worth highlighting (Hobbs et  al. 2013b; Truitt et  al. 2015; Higgs 2017): 1. Novel ecosystems have novel combinations of species (native and non-­ native) and operate under biophysical and social conditions that diverge significantly from historical conditions prior to human disturbance. This first attribute is particularly difficult to implement considering the background level of change in the Anthropocene. 2. Human influence is critical, but the authors qualify that this influence is not necessarily deliberate. This distinguishes them from what might be called designed (Higgs 2003, 2017) or designer ecosystems (Ross et al. 2015) in ecology, or perhaps constructed ecologies (Grose 2014) in landscape and urban design. 3. Humans created them, but their agency is not required to maintain them. Novel ecosystems are self-organising, which means they are relatively persistent, even without ongoing human intervention. This is a key point because self-organising is an influential concept in ecology, drawing on the work of Odum (1969, 1988). Self-organising is now a core principle of restoration ecology, although it is instead with reference to a historic state (Gann et al. 2019) and is a standard that is often difficult to achieve. This is also a key difference between novel ecosystems and designed ecosystems (Higgs 2017). 4. Novel ecosystems are also said to be different from hybrid ecosystems. Hybrid ecosystems occur in highly modified landscapes where key

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attributes or functions (e.g. nutrient load, hydrology) are the same, but most of the species have changed compared with historical ecosystems (Hobbs et al. 2009). Examples of hybrid ecosystems are included in this book because they present similar challenges and questions from a governance perspective. The definition of novel ecosystems is in the process of development, and it has been criticised for being difficult to use in practice to understand if an ecosystem is novel or not (Murcia et al. 2014; Kattan et al. 2016); thus, other definitions have been developed (e.g. Morse et  al. 2014). Concepts such as thresholds have proven particularly challenging to identify and implement into management and policy, as it is difficult to know when a system is approaching one and when to act (Muradian 2001; Huggett 2005; Martin et al. 2009; Standish et al. 2014). Although much work has been done and large databases are compiling evidence to help better anticipate thresholds or identify when they have been crossed (c.f. Biggs et al. 2018), the science is far from settled. Some ecologists even question whether there is sufficient evidence for the existence of thresholds beyond limited local examples (Capon et al. 2015; Montoya et al. 2018). It is likely to be a while before these debates are settled; however, they need not be settled to inform governance and management action. There are practical limitations to restoring ecosystems based on technical, social, and financial reasons, with the latter being a widespread and enduring feature of conservation. Decades of significant underfunding is one reason that even our modest targets for halting biodiversity have not been met, and some of the most biodiverse places have the largest spending gaps (Waldron et al. 2013). It is not easy, however, to say definitively if a system has passed a threshold and cannot be restored with current resources, but there is always uncertainty in environmental decision-­ making. For governance, it matters less whether a system meets the definition of ‘novel’, and more whether the resources required to restore radically changed systems to historic baselines are feasible, or whether it is more appropriate to focus on other goals, such as function and social value. This does not require a definitive answer to the question of what label is most appropriate, but the lack of certainty is an uncomfortable reality. It is

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particularly worrying for those who feel embracing novel ecosystems will be used to legitimise negative human impacts on ecosystems, crowding out traditional conservation efforts in the process.

The Geography of Novel Ecosystems It is the received wisdom among many conservationists that novel ecosystems are a distinctly ‘New World’ phenomenon. Yet the literature on novel ecosystems documents examples on every continent1 and across many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine environments. Efforts to model the extent of novel ecosystems across the globe vary in their estimation of extent (Perring and Ellis 2013). How much of the Earth might be novel depends on how this category is defined, what time period is being used, and how long intensive land use has existed in an area. There is, therefore, no definitive guide to where novel ecosystems currently exist. Those studies that have attempted to model their global extent vary in their estimations, yet they agree that, regardless of an official number, novel ecosystems are common across the world and greatly exceed ‘wild’ areas across both land and sea (Ellis 2013; Perring and Ellis 2013; Radeloff et al. 2015). It could be that around 50% of terrestrial areas are novel, with ‘wild’ areas covering less than one quarter, primarily in the Arctic and the Sahara regions (Ellis 2013; Perring and Ellis 2013). While it is difficult to tell whether all of those areas have crossed a threshold when looking at a global scale, it does give an indication of the magnitude of intensive human impacts on ecosystems. History is not destiny with novel ecosystems, and the duration of human settlement does not necessarily correlate with the concentration of novel ecosystems. Some areas of the planet have had at least 8000 years of intensive use (e.g. Europe, the Middle East). The form of use, however, has changed over time, and thus not all of those areas are considered novel at present. Despite being the cradle of humanity, the evidence suggests that there are fewer novel ecosystems across Africa than in many places across Europe, the Americas, India, and China (Perring and Ellis  Except perhaps Antarctica if one excludes ecosystems indirectly modified by anthropogenic climate change. 1

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2013). In marine systems, no area is unaffected by human influence, and 41% is strongly affected by multiple drivers (e.g. commercial fishing, oil rigs, shipping lanes, invasive species, pollution) (Halpern et  al. 2008). Very highly impacted areas are concentrated along the coasts and in areas such as the North and Baltic Seas, the South and East China Seas, the Eastern Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the North American Seaboard, the Persian Gulf, the Bering Sea, and waters around Sri Lanka (Perring and Ellis 2013). For the purposes of conservation, this is just a starting point and not a definitive map of the geography of novel ecosystems. There must be discussions locally and nationally related to what to do about novel ecosystems (and other altered systems), as the approach will necessarily vary from place to place. Global biodiversity targets do not really cover novel ecosystems explicitly, and in many cases, their extensive modification puts them outside the boundaries of traditional conservation efforts, even though they can provide important benefits and often have high social and economic value. They could potentially provide further benefits for the environment and society, so it seems problematic to dismiss such extensive areas of the globe as irrelevant for conservation because there is no prospect of making them ‘whole’ again. It is interesting, then, that many people have resisted the idea that novel ecosystems are even relevant to Europe or many areas of Europe. The argument is that the idea of wilderness is a uniquely ‘new world’ concept, and that is why North American and Australian scholars have been driving the use and development of the concept. The emergence of novel ecosystems, it is argued, is only anxiety-inducing when you have not yet accepted the idea that humans are part of landscapes, which is said to be reflected in European ideas of ‘cultural landscapes’ (Chap. 5). Despite there being evidence that novel ecosystems are widespread across Europe and that wild lands as usually defined are absent, there is a common refrain that the idea of novel ecosystems is irrelevant or at least redundant. The argument is that Europeans have embraced human impacts and already incorporated them into conservation. This supposition begs a question: if this is the case, then why are so many ‘old world’ places also struggling to meet conservation targets and maintain the integrity of their cultural landscapes?

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The idea that novel ecosystems are a new world phenomenon also does not stand up to scrutiny in reviewing empirical case studies. It may be that many European conservationists do not like the term ‘novel ecosystems’, but that does not mean they are not studying and working in these environments. European case studies are prevalent throughout the literature, alongside examinations of novel ecosystems in terrestrial and aquatic environments in North America, South America, Africa, and Australasia (Evers et  al. 2018). Moreover, in this review, North American and European case studies dominate, suggesting that the term has gained traction on both sides of the Atlantic and is not exclusive to the ‘New World’. This is a slightly biased sample because the authors were specifically interested in studies that connected the novel ecosystems concept to ecosystem services, and ecosystem services are the bedrock of biodiversity policy in Europe (European Commission 2020), whereas they are not in many other places, including Australia. However, it still demonstrates that the concept has resonated with a substantial number of researchers working across the globe and that there is little debate over the existence of novelty in both the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ world. Geographic variation is more a product of differing baselines than differing levels of novelty, with European studies working from baselines that are already intimately connected to human use (Evers et al. 2018) (see Chap. 5). This, however, does not undermine the argument that novelty is widespread globally and, if anything, reinforces the notion that the recognition of novelty is always determined by a consideration of the variables present in different regions. Novelty is also observed in many different types of ecosystems. Forests, grasslands, and aquatic ecosystems seem to be most commonly documented, which perhaps is not surprising since these three types of ecosystems are so intimately connected with human activity. Though less documented, the concept is starting to attract attention in marine environments, and it is likely that novel ecosystems are widespread in these environments and likely to expand under climate change (Perring and Ellis 2013; Graham et al. 2014). For governance, whether a particular site is badged as ‘novel’ is not as important as how decision-making incorporates highly modified ecosystems into the fold of conservation efforts. The question is not so much, ‘how do we manage this specific

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classification of ecosystems?’. It is more complex, for example, ‘how do we develop a conservation ethic that accommodates the world that we have, but also helps us move towards a realistic version of the world as we wish it to be?’

F raming Novel Ecosystems and Narrating Change Though careful consideration and deliberation has informed the standard definition of what novel ecosystems are, in practice, the term has taken on a life of its own. Some have accused the concept of ‘mutating,’ using its evolution as evidence that the concept is ‘still impaired by logical contradictions and ecological imprecisions’ (Murcia et  al. 2014, p.  549). However, the reality of language—including scientific language—is that this fluidity is the norm and is part of what facilitates communication. Science is a way of knowing, but it is a process, and it is an enduring feature of all language that concepts evolve over time, taking on meanings that often vary substantially from their original intention (Richards and Schmidt 2014). Against this backdrop, and the discussions about framing and narratives in the previous chapters, it should then come as no surprise that the term novel ecosystems is used differently depending on many different factors, including one’s perspective on the concept, which is shaped, in part, by professional identity, disciplinary background, values, and experiences. Many labels in conservation have normative foundations (e.g. wilderness, brownfield, park, swamp) and thus carry both positive and negative connotations. The novel ecosystems label is equally normative, but the term can be seen to challenge traditional categories in conservation ‘because they mix and match traditionally positive and negative properties: they are diverse but invaded, neglected but resilient, new but natural, anthropogenic but wild. Novel ecosystems thus confront the simple binaries that permeate conservation discourse’ (Yung et al. 2013, p. 381). Still in its infancy, the concept of novel ecosystems is in development—it is counterproductive to work from the premise of the concept being static. The fact that the concept does not fit neatly within the

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lexicon of conservation may have less to do with flaws in the concept and more to do with the fact that the term describes phenomena that have emerged in an epoch that is geologically unprecedented. The divide between humans and nature as a distinct place ‘out there’ has long been questioned, but now, more than ever, many of the categories that have driven conservation seem untenable, or at least incomplete. It may come as no surprise, then, that narratives about novel ecosystems are not all that dissimilar to narratives about the Anthropocene as a whole. There is of course a wealth of data about ecological change and transformation that has been published, and it would be difficult to find someone who did not find this data concerning, even if they may interpret the data differently depending on the timescales and forms of information that they are looking at. This is much like the geoscientific debates around the Anthropocene (Chap. 1). What is more interesting for governance and policy, however, is that this data is not blandly translated into discussions about whether novel ecosystems exist, what we should do about them, and who is responsible for action. How novel ecosystems are defined in practice, who and what is considered relevant to addressing them as a ‘problem’, and how they can be ‘solved’ or fit into conservation practice all shape the ways that interventions occur in different contexts. Depending on how the concept of novel ecosystems is framed, they can be used to paint a picture of a good or bad version of conservation in the Anthropocene, or perhaps a more complex and intertwined version, as in the ‘ugly’ Anthropocene narratives (Chap. 1). It is also worth noting that the term itself, particularly the use of the word ‘novel’, could be one reason novel ecosystems have provoked so much debate. Some feel it obscures the fact that these are degraded ecosystems, and frames them as something new and interesting. There are also concerns that the public will de-value novel ecosystems, or even perhaps value them because they are novel (Standish et al. 2013). However, it is important to note that novelty in nature is generally negative because it is psychologically associated with risk. This is particularly so if an ecosystem does not look like what a person grew up with or what they would expect in a particular place, although negative feelings can be attenuated over time with exposure to ‘novel nature’ (Kueffer and Kull 2017). It is interesting that the term itself has become a focal point for criticism.

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When the paper popularising the term was under peer review, reviewers pushed the authors away from the term ‘emerging ecosystems’ towards the term ‘novel ecosystems’ (Hobbs 2017). It is possible that no matter what term was chosen, there would be controversy. It is also possible that, by acting as a lightning rod, the term has provoked important conversations that needed to be had beyond a small group of experts in the academic literature. A different term may not have sparked so many interesting and hopefully productive conversations about what conservation should look like in the Anthropocene.

Novel Ecosystems and Declining Standards For vocal critics of the novel ecosystems concept, the rise of the term represents a threat to conservation and restoration as we know it, and an invitation to degrade ecosystems. Similar to the heroic policy narratives previously discussed, in this version of the story, humans may be villains who destroyed many ecosystems, but conservationists still have the capacity to be heroes who could bring these systems (the victims of the story) back from the brink. In this thread of the literature, authors dispute the basic premise that novel ecosystems represent a new reality, instead arguing that many ecosystems remain well preserved and our current course can be corrected by restoring ecosystems to historical states, with their native species, and allowing them to respond to change (Murcia et  al. 2014; Peltzer et al. 2015; Simberloff et al. 2015). Restoration to historical states, it is argued, may be expensive, but it pays dividends through ecosystem service benefits (Bullock et  al. 2011; Possingham et  al. 2015). Some of this debate is on technical grounds, with different narratives drawing on different evidence about how much climate will further change ecosystems and whether thresholds are irreversible. It would be false to attribute these unresolved debates only to novel ecosystems, however, as these technical questions exist in every domain of the novel ecosystems literature. There is a great deal of diversity in the way ecologists view key concepts and issues in conservation, not just with respect to novel ecosystems (Moore et al. 2009).

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It is in the way these critiques are framed that it becomes clear where there is a mismatch between current approaches to biodiversity conservation, and those that may be required in the Anthropocene. Provocations on novel ecosystems suggest their incorporation into management and restoration is an affront to current policy, norms, and practices. In this view, novel ecosystems are framed as degraded, and those who advocate for novel ecosystems are opening a Pandora’s box in conservation, lowering standards and legitimising degradation by providing a licence to trash ecosystems (Murcia et  al. 2014; Simberloff et  al. 2015; Hobbs 2016). Whilst accepting that ‘nonanalog’ ecosystems exist, the concept of novel ecosystems has been called a ‘social contagion’ that has not brought added value to conservation and restoration practices and has been an ‘obstacle in the path forward’ (Kattan et al. 2016). These narratives tend to emphasise that conservation is the underdog, and it must not give up in the face of these challenges despite powerful global forces of change. Conservation and restoration may not have succeeded so far in halting biodiversity loss, but there is an implication that they will eventually prevail. In this view, the suggestion that the damage we have already done means that there are some ecosystems that are beyond repair is problematic. It is seen as dangerously close to absolving ourselves of responsibility, and an acceptance of degraded ecosystems as some kind of new normal is nothing short of a moral failing. Acceptance of shifting baselines or ideas of novelty also challenges deeply embedded ideas in conservation about the problem with non-native species. Although some ecologists have called for reconsideration of focusing on a species origins (Davis et al. 2011), this has been met with resistance (Simberloff 2011; Frank 2019). The irony, of course, is that the same critiques have been levelled at restoration since the 1980s. The idea of restoration was also said to be an invitation to degrade ecosystems because they could simply be restored later (Backstrom et al. 2018). This led to ideas about conservation triage that suggest conservation should always be prioritised over restoration, but over time the gap has been portrayed as vanishingly small (Possingham et al. 2015). Restoration had been viewed as emblematic of a hegemonic mindset that humans can control ecosystems and domesticate them, but now it is presented as a united front in the critique against novel ecosystems (Murcia et  al. 2014). Still, even though these sentiments and

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polarising debates are not unusual in the field, it is easy to be distracted by the polar ends of this debate and assume greater resistance than there may be. Strong critiques of the novel ecosystem concept are often heard in meetings, conferences, and debates amongst conservationists, but written accounts are actually in the minority when viewed across the literature. However, if the lack of change in restoration guidelines and legislation is anything to go by (Domain 3), it is not necessarily because novel ecosystems are embraced as a concept. It could simply be that, as was made clear in Chap. 2, path dependency, habit, and norms are strongly embedded in conservation and, like other institutions, are difficult to change, so continuing with business as usual is the path of least resistance, irrespective of calls to revisit the way novel and other transformed ecosystems are folded into conservation. In terms of framing, there are also certain words that have themselves become central to the debate. The word ‘degraded’ and associated terms like ‘damaged’, ‘destroyed’, and ‘impaired’ are associated with novel ecosystems, which are said by one of the field’s most popular textbooks to be antithetical to the very concept of ecological restoration (Clewell and Aronson 2013). Novel ecosystems are framed as degraded systems that are impaired both in terms of integrity and health, though there are vague definitions of what this means and—most importantly for governance— who gets to decide what ‘normal’ ecosystem functioning is (Hobbs 2016). It is common to hear novel ecosystems conflated with designed or engineered systems, despite there being a clear distinction (Higgs 2017). The aspects that are ignored in this debate are also interesting, such as the view that novel ecosystems cannot meet the definition of restoration because they are not self-organising. Restoring ecosystems so that they are self-organising is a core principle of international restoration guidelines (Gann et al. 2019); however, as noted earlier, self-organising is actually part of the novel ecosystems definition that seems to have been ignored by those who want to separate novel ecosystems from restoration. Though it may be a goal, it does not necessarily mean these sites are self-­ sustaining, as most restored sites cannot just be left to their own devices and remain in an ‘ideal’ state, particularly in the context of environmental change pressures. In practice many ecologists point out that most restored sites need ongoing management.

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All Is Not Loss A purely optimistic strand of the literature, where novel ecosystems represent the harkening of a ‘good’ Anthropocene epoch, is also not particularly dominant, but threads of a good Anthropocene can be found. For the most part, the focus here is on the idea that novel ecosystems do not crowd out efforts to restore and protect intact ecosystems. Resources will always be limited and so too will be technical knowledge about restoration of transformed systems. In this narrative, the focus is on how deliberately deciding what to do about novel ecosystems means more nature, not less. For many, it is a direct response to this obsessive focus on loss in the Anthropocene. When talking about his own change in perspective, one interviewee said: There is no species and no ecosystem that is living in this completely pristine, unhuman state, and many of the species that we’ve been studying were doing very well. They were being successful in these new, human created environments. But I was still writing up most of it as a perturbation to the planet that was therefore harmful, even if the species was more widespread and abundant than it had been at the beginning… virtually all of the [scientific] discussion is all about the decrease and not the increases, even though there are both we shouldn’t blind ourselves to this loss only view of the world. And if we take that view, we’re going to be deliberately, or accidentally, rule out potential future options, which are not the same as the past, but which are nonetheless potentially valuable ways of travel if you like, both for humans and for the rest of life on earth

In contrast to the danger posed by accepting novel ecosystems in the previous narratives, there are many who suggest that they can open up conservation to more opportunities, not less. The idea is that novel ecosystems allow us to bring more of the ecosystems that exist into the fold of conservation efforts, finding and creating more value, rather than focusing so much on what we have lost (Marris 2009, 2011; Miller and Bestelmeyer 2017; Svenning 2018). In response to those who suggest the

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Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene has led to a ‘great homogenisation’ (McKinney and Lockwood 1999; Rozzi et al. 2018), there are others who point out that the Anthropocene does not categorically mean loss of biodiversity. Although globally and locally there are species lost, some regions are experiencing increases in biodiversity, and many anthropogenic ecosystems provide important functions and services for people and nature (Ellis et al. 2012; Thomas 2013; Dornelas et al. 2014; Pandolfi and Lovelock 2014). In an epoch where the barriers between people and nature have already broken down, it makes sense to, at the very least, pay attention to novel ecosystems and ask people who inhabit these landscapes what values and functions matter most to them. Despite the word ‘novel’ making an appearance, novel ecosystems are not presented here as an exciting new frontier, but rather a reality to be reckoned with that will become increasingly difficult to ignore. The hopeful threads in writings about biodiversity policy in the Anthropocene are pragmatic in their outlook. Grounded in the ‘unmistakable fact’ that humans have transformed the landscape and have failed to conserve biodiversity, the idea is that we should continue protecting relatively untouched, beautiful places; however, this describes little of what is left to conserve (Kareiva et al. 2012) and thus we need to think beyond naturalness (Cole and Yung 2010). This is not a new argument and builds on arguments that our focus on conserving native species and excluding non-native species is too narrow at a time when human modification of ecosystems is so extensive and environmental change is so rapid. This is consistent with long-standing calls to move away from species- and habitat-­centred conservation towards approaches that more effectively incorporate ecosystem function and landscape-scale processes (Likens and Lindenmayer 2012; Pasari et  al. 2013; Gonthier et  al. 2014; Macdonald and King 2018). Many regions will contain a mix of novel, hybrid, and intact ecosystems, so integrating all of these into conservation and restoration is likely to be a better fit in the context of rapid ecological change and ongoing human impacts (Hobbs et al. 2014). Most who write about novel ecosystems emphasise that protecting biodiversity is of course a legitimate goal, but that there are other legitimate goals also. In multifunctional landscapes, this might include restoration of

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functions and services or protecting human livelihoods, as seen in the Tasmanian case study described in the following text. Although departing from biodiversity as the central goal may seem radical, it is important to note that the relationship between biodiversity per se and ecosystem function and services is actually not that straightforward. Although it is generally thought that biodiverse ecosystems are more productive, stable, and resilient, this is not always the case (Seddon et al. 2016). Disentangling relationships between biodiversity and environmental heterogeneity, and between biodiversity and the many other factors that govern ecosystem function, has been challenging, and some species have much bigger impacts on functioning and resilience than others (Naeem and Wright 2003; Seddon et al. 2016). Even disentangling the impacts of humans on biodiversity and various ecosystem attributes and functions is more complex and poorly understood than it first seems (McGill et  al. 2015). The novel ecosystems literature is still grappling with the same questions, but this also means that novel ecosystems can still provide valuable functions and services. Rather than dismissing systems that are altered, the novel ecosystems literature serves as a reminder that biodiversity conservation can be more than just conserving native species in their historic habitats. It calls on scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to explicitly consider function, larger-scale processes, and the services ecosystems provide to people when historical fidelity cannot be restored. It does not mean abandoning aspirations for ecological health and integrity, as these need not be considered at odds with novel ecosystems (Hobbs 2016). The concept can also provide a bridge between disciplines and approaches, which has always been essential in the interdisciplinary field of conservation but is even more urgent in the Anthropocene. It is not about ‘giving in’ to novel ecosystems, but about making decisions regarding whether they should be resisted, tolerated, or managed in particular places (Truitt et al. 2015). Rather than displacement of restoration, novel ecosystems can facilitate an expansion of practice, bringing the idea that nature is intimately linked to culture to the fore (Macdonald and King 2018), as well as challenging the dominant conservation narrative that native biodiversity and historical fidelity are always the most important considerations. They also challenge the framing of novel ecosystems as

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‘degraded’, and suggest instead the term ‘altered’, which does not necessarily translate to degraded, depauperate, less functional, or even less biodiverse than historical reference ecosystems (Ellis et  al. 2012; Thomas 2013; Dornelas et  al. 2014; Pandolfi and Lovelock 2014; Miller and Bestelmeyer 2017). Rather than seeing the concept as a displacement of the old guard, it is instead framed as part of a new paradigm for conservation and restoration that is future-oriented and proactive, providing a way to think about the full palette of options for biodiversity in the Anthropocene (Choi 2007). The vast majority of the novel ecosystems literature is focused on what might be called a pragmatic middle ground, rather than a novel utopia. Much of the novel ecosystems literature is grounded in pragmatism: highly altered ecosystems are common and likely to become more common, some are technically difficult to restore, and limited resources mean there is a need to make difficult decisions about triage in conservation and restoration (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b; Morse et al. 2014; Schläppy and Hobbs 2019). Austerity and a long list of competing priorities would suggest that this situation will not change any time soon. There is also diminishingly small areas of the world left that could be designated as protected, existing beyond where people actively live and shape landscapes in ways that might not meet ecological notions of ‘ideal’ or ‘intact’ (Kareiva et al. 2012). The logical next step from acknowledging this situation is to better understand how these ecosystems could be folded into conservation and restoration, and how they might help us meet different goals. In doing so, this can lead to a productive rejection of the practice of either ignoring novel ecosystems or wasting precious resources on activities that do little for biodiversity outcomes (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b).

Biodiversity and Provenance The way authors discuss native, non-native, invasive, and ‘alien’ species is central to the ways that novel ecosystems are framed. It is here where the novel ecosystems literature collides with one of the most polarised debates in ecology and conservation biology. Consideration of the provenance of species has long been a cornerstone of modern conservation and

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restoration practice, and native species are at the heart of nearly all legislation and policy.2 For the most part, species that are not native to a place are simply excluded from the term ‘biodiversity’ in policy and in practice, with their contribution to biodiversity simply not counted (Schlaepfer 2018). ‘Invasive alien species’ is the term often used by conservationists when talking about species that displace or predate native species, provide pests and pathogens, and threaten important economic commodities (e.g. timber, fisheries, crops, and livestock) (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2014; IPBES 2019). Although only a small proportion of all non-native species become invasive and cause such damage, the idea that non-native species are inherently problematic is a message that is pervasive in conservation and restoration. Their removal is central to global, national, and local biodiversity objectives. With this background, it is no surprise that accepting novel ecosystems into the conservation fold is seen by some as an almost existential threat. Changes in species are central to the definition of novel ecosystems, and often those changes include non-native species. But change does not necessarily mean harm, and the conflation of the two has started to be unpicked in recent years. Increasingly, the dominant narrative that non-­ native species are bad for biodiversity and ecosystems, which has informed conservation practice, is being challenged. Many others have presented evidence that a minority of non-native species actually become invasive, and that they can increase diversity in some regions. While non-native species change ecosystem composition, they are not always a threat to society or ecosystems; however, they are thought to be a minor cause of extinctions, leading to discussion around the various ways that invasion science3 is subjective and prone to bias (c.f. Gurevitch and Padilla 2004; Thomas 2013, 2017; Thomas and Palmer 2015; Schlaepfer 2017). This has been met with strong resistance from invasion scientists and a series of published rebuttals (c.f. Simberloff 2011; Richardson and Ricciardi 2013). It also seems little has changed so far, with non-native  Whether a species is ‘native’ is also not always clear-cut, and depends on the timescales discussed. In Australia the dingo, for example, was only recently accepted by many as a native species after 4000 years but even this is still contested. 3  Invasion science is used here to encompass invasion ecology and invasion biology (Richardson and Ricciardi 2013). 2

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species being excluded a priori from almost every major biodiversity assessment and indicator, even though they can contribute to regional biodiversity and function (Schlaepfer 2018). In terms of guidance for how to address the threat of non-native and ‘undesirable’ species’ mainstream conservation and restoration, it is still recommended to remove non-native species, even if they have improved function or after they have stabilised soil to ‘ultimately assist the recovery of a native ecosystem’ (Gann et al. 2019). The debate itself has attracted critical examination from scholars in the humanities and social sciences, who suggest that differences in values and worldviews are the main source of debate, rather than scientific data (Frawley and McCalman 2014; Frank 2019). This is yet another area where the extremes have perhaps received more attention, with research revealing a diversity of views among experts and practitioners (Selge et al. 2011; Gbedomon et al. 2020). However, the vast majority of the novel ecosystems literature explores how to incorporate novel ecosystems alongside traditional conservation, and that includes efforts to remove non-native species. It is not that they dismiss the idea that invasive species need to be removed but rather that species should be considered in relation to their impacts and transparent consideration of social values, rather than automatically dismissing species based on their origins. How one talks about the provenance of species varies across narratives about novel ecosystems because of differing views on the threat they represent, and this flows through to norms in conservation and practice. Returning to the pragmatic thread that runs through writings on novel ecosystems, this battle against non-native species is one of the most expensive aspects of conservation. Though some invasive species present a significant threat and should be removed, the reality is that removal of non-native species is an uphill and never-ending battle on a planet where human impacts are pervasive. One hallmark of the Anthropocene is the global movement of species across continents and the blurred lines between what constitutes non-native species, since range shifts can also be the result of migration in response to climate change (Côté 2017). The marked changes of this epoch also suggest a need to shift focus from trying to minimise ecosystem change to strategies that facilitate and accelerate the ability of species and ecosystems to adjust to human-caused

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change (Thomas 2020). The irony of many current conservation practices is that they actively work against change in an effort to return to a particular baseline or to rid a system of ‘undesirable’ species or traits. Novel ecosystems may be self-organising and capable of adjusting to human-caused change, but the novel mixes of species they contain may not be considered ‘desirable’ for a whole host of reasons. The notion of a ‘desirable ecosystem state’ is firmly entrenched in conservation and restoration and is used to inform management objectives (Standish et al. 2014; Gann et al. 2019). The notion of ‘desirable’ is a normative state informed by ideas about what ecosystems are supposed to look like, drawing on history, culture, aesthetic preferences, and values. Desirability is usually linked to nativeness in conservation. Although many members of the public may enjoy a species regardless of its provenance, this is not the case for most conservationists. As one interviewee noted with respect to parakeets in the UK, many people like them, but the more environmentally educated you are, the more you are likely to frown on their existence because you’ve been told all the impacts that have been negative. Knowing a species is non-native and associated with negative impacts can make a person react negatively, even if it is beautiful. This is one of the many cognitive factors that is known to influence reactions to non-native species and novel ecosystems (Kueffer and Kull 2017). Critics of novel ecosystems often say they are not self-organising or resilient, but self-organising is a core part of the definition and they are often resilient. Novel ecosystems may be created indirectly or directly through human activity, but they do not necessarily need humans to maintain them in their state (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b). In some cases, they can be even more ecologically resilient to change than systems that have been restored to their historic stat. Clearly, when attempting to understand novel ecosystems, framing is all important. Resilience in novel ecosystems is unhelpful because it means the system tends to return to an ‘undesirable’ state and can require a great deal of resources to return to a ‘desirable’ state (Standish et al. 2014). Novel ecosystems are often excluded from funding because they are perceived to be not self-organising and to require ongoing management, even though the same accusation could be levelled at many restoration projects, which require ongoing management. Many

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experts discussed this subjectivity, and one pointed out that what is desirable is not always what is most resilient, for example: My experience is that we make decisions on when to intervene based on ecosystem states (primarily how it looks) not on the organising properties of ecosystems, or perceived lack thereof. And further, when we humans decide to manage for a desired state we could be working against, rather than with, the self-organising properties of an ecosystem (i.e., the ecosystem is actually organising itself to be in a different state)

This idea of ‘desirability’ being driven in large part by aesthetics has been a recurring theme in interviews, meetings, and workshops for the research in this book. The idea of keeping out ‘undesirable’ species and traits is, as noted earlier, a cornerstone of conservation and embedded in official guidance. What is ‘undesirable’ may be related to what is invasive and what is problematic for biodiversity, but it is often about aesthetics. Aesthetic preferences are more complex than they first seem, driven by psychological factors; social, economic, and historical factors; and cognitive factors, including knowledge and reasoning (Kueffer and Kull 2017). In the following section, an example of such ‘undesirable’ resilience is provided, but in this case, new norms around what constitutes desirability are developing. This is partly influenced by long-standing experience with ecological change and the emergence of novel ecosystems, but is also influenced by aesthetics, shifting cognitive frames, and evolving norms around how to conserve grassland ecosystems within a multifunctional landscape in Australia.

 ovel Grassland Ecosystems and Conservative N Frames in Australia The emergence of novel ecosystems is a particularly vexing challenge in Australia for a number of reasons. First, Australia is a megadiverse country with a high level of endemic species found nowhere else, with approximately 84% of plant species, 83% of mammal species, and 45% of bird species are only found in Australia (NRMMC 2010). It also has one of

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the highest rates of extinction in the world, despite having a low population density and high capacity to protect biodiversity (Woinarski et al. 2015). This is contrary to the trend elsewhere, where high rates of biodiversity loss tend to be associated with developing countries that have rapid population growth. Second, in addition to many direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such as land clearing, nutrient pollution, water over-extraction, wildfire, mining, invasive species, and urbanisation, climate change is already placing evident strain on Australia’s biodiversity, with climate change envelopes and species already shifting (Steffen et al. 2009). The impact of climate change on biodiversity is only projected to worsen, and by 2070, most places will be more ecologically different from the current conditions than they are similar (Dunlop et al. 2012). It is no surprise, then, that novel ecosystems have attracted attention and debate in a country where biodiversity loss and ecosystem change have been unprecedented over the past 200 years since European colonisation, and where these trends are expected to intensify under most likely climate change scenarios. Addressing these changing conditions and preparing for future change are even more difficult in a country with fairly conservative definitions of what constitutes biodiversity, what is worthy of protection, and how ecosystems should be restored (i.e. to states prior to European colonisation of Australia). This narrow focus means that those with authority to address the causes of biodiversity loss are unable to confront many of the most important social, ecological, and economic drivers and their impacts (Clement et  al. 2015). The country’s overarching legal framework for conservation of biodiversity, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act), is similar to other standard biodiversity laws (e.g. the Endangered Species Act in the USA), but it is perhaps even more conservative, being based on very specific ideas of what is worthy of additional protection. Rare, threatened, or endangered flora, fauna, and ecological communities are classified as Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) under the Act. Listings of threatened and endangered ecological communities are required to meet specific species composition criteria (including ‘Key Diagnostic Characteristics’). Condition thresholds are also specified, which means only the best-quality examples receive legislative protection, whereas

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ecological communities in poor or degraded condition do not. Consistent with biodiversity laws elsewhere, listing under the Act means that negative impacts have to be considered prior to land use changes or development, and the government may require development of a recovery plan and a threat abatement plan, although many still have not been developed and their effectiveness has been questioned (McDonald et al. 2015). This means many important ecological communities fall outside of the bounds of federal and/or state-level protections if they do not meet these fairly narrow criteria. Australia operates under a system of cooperative federalism, and land management responsibilities rest with the states. This means state-level laws and policies play important roles, but many of these follow the federal government’s lead and are similar in the way they frame biodiversity and its conservation. It is against this backdrop of megadiversity, high rates of biodiversity loss, and narrowly framed definitions of what ‘counts’ as biodiversity worth protecting that the governance and the conservation of grasslands in the Midlands of Tasmania were investigated.

Conserving Grasslands Under Changing Conditions As Australia’s oldest continually grazed landscape, the Tasmanian Midlands were once emblematic of the popular notion that the country was ‘riding on the sheep’s back’ until a steep decline in wool prices in the 1980s prompted agricultural diversification (e.g. meat production and irrigated crops such as poppies). Further loss of biodiversity of lowland native grasslands, which had thus far been spared, was the result. In addition to the clearing that had already taken place for agriculture, there was further loss of these grasslands when farmers shifted away from wool towards intensive commodities as well as when replacement took place with non-native improved pastures (Kirkpatrick and Bridle 2007). The trend towards intensification of agriculture seems to have been exacerbated in recent years, following significant government and private investment in a >70,000-hectare irrigation scheme, in what is Tasmania’s driest region. The lowland native grasslands are only 17% of their former extent, and they were listed as critically endangered under the EPBC Act

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in 2009 (Australian Government 2010). The Midlands is home to about two-thirds of these grasslands, but as it is also Tasmania’s most under-­ reserved bioregion, most of their management falls to the approximately 10–12 landholders who own about 70% of these listed grasslands (Clement et al. 2015). It is perhaps no surprise, then, that irrigation expansion; profitability of agricultural enterprises; and landholder values, attitudes, and behaviours were found to be the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss in the Midlands (Mitchell et al. 2014; Clement 2015). Maintaining biodiversity as it is has already proven challenging in the Midlands, but this is projected to worsen. Native grassland systems may be heading for another transformation, with climate models projecting climatic conditions in many existing grassland areas to be unsuitable for many key species by 2050. Very little of this coincides with existing areas of grasslands that are considered in good condition (Harris et al. 2015). Shifting climate envelopes mean that species ranges will move in different directions, so even if good condition grasslands remain, they will be unlikely to meet the strict legislative criteria. It is perhaps no surprise then that our research found that without any changes to governance, biodiversity outcomes are projected to get worse under most plausible scenarios (Mitchell et al. 2016). To identify areas where governance reform could improve biodiversity outcomes for the grasslands, a diagnosis was undertaken to identify areas of poor fit (Clement 2015; Clement et  al. 2017). This was alongside social-ecological systems modelling and scenario analysis to identify the key drivers of change affecting the grasslands and how they might be altered by changed governance and management (Clement et al. 2015b, c; Mitchell et al. 2016). It was only through this process that it was clear that novel and hybrid ecosystems had already emerged, and though few people considered them such, many people living and working on conservation in the region were frustrated because they could not incorporate the on-ground realities they observed into a coherent plan for the future. Most of the aforementioned issues were manifest in this case study (Mitchell et al. 2016), with apparent shifts at the local level in both narratives and framing. Although not universally adopted, these changing narratives had led to demonstrable changes in the other domains of governance (Chap. 3), but there were also limits to what could be achieved,

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due primarily to the narrow framing of legislation and policy at the state and federal levels (Clement et al. 2017). These changes are reflective not of a single shock, but more a series of shocks that caused native pastures to decline (Mitchell et  al. 2016) accompanied by gradual shifts in the way that conservation is perceived and practised (Clement et al. 2017). This is causing gradual shifts in the underlying beliefs that inform what it means to conserve biodiversity in this landscape, which has flow-on effects on the other four domains of change (Chap. 3), and highlights how incremental changes over time could provide scaffolding for radical change (Chap. 2). This section does not account for all of the governance issues identified; however, information is available elsewhere that outlines results of an institutional diagnosis, SES modelling, and scenario analysis to explore the impact of governance reforms (Mitchell et al. 2014, 2016, 2017; Clement 2015; Clement et  al. 2015a, b, 2017). The purpose here is to focus on how changing narratives and frames can create conditions favourable to reforming governance, and how this can be insufficient to achieve more substantive changes without concerted effort in the other domains.

 ultifunctional Landscapes, Expanding Narratives, M and Narrow Frames The conservative framing of Australia’s biodiversity law and policy immediately places novel and hybrid ecosystems out of bounds, and the Midlands provides a clear example of how this can be problematic. Yet it also provides an example of how narratives about what it means to conserve biodiversity can expand though interactions between different actors, and this expansion can help reveal new ways of conserving biodiversity within highly modified landscapes that may otherwise be dismissed as ‘too far gone’ to be worthy of investment. Even beyond the Midlands, narrow ideas of what constitutes biodiversity are particularly problematic in the context of agricultural landscapes, which are often called multifunctional landscapes or ‘working landscapes’. In these landscapes, returning to historical reference states is particularly challenging when remnants of native vegetation are often patchy and impacted by

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human activities on an ongoing basis. Even if connectivity is improved, the remaining native vegetation is part of a dynamic human landscape; in the case of native pastures, it may even be considered integral to productivity in such landscapes. The changing narratives and frames in the Tasmanian Midlands are particularly interesting when mapped against the broader debates about novel ecosystems outlined earlier, as they demonstrate how the conservation toolkit can be broadened without abandoning traditional approaches to conservation.

Beyond Degradation Though the term ‘novel ecosystems’ is rarely used with reference to the Tasmanian Midlands, there was a great deal of discussion about how this highly modified landscape had crossed thresholds in terms of how much native vegetation was left. There was also discussion about how biodiversity loss was only expected to become more pervasive, given the pressures noted earlier (e.g. climate change, irrigation, declining terms of trade that place pressure on agricultural enterprise). There was also concern that focusing so narrowly on listed lowland native grasslands was neglecting other important grasslands that don’t meet with composition or condition criteria, but nonetheless play critical roles in ecosystem function and habitat provision. Rather than focusing on how degraded the landscape is, there was a strong focus on how to restore function to the Midlands by approaching it as a whole landscape. In contrast to the narratives seen in critiques of novel ecosystems, there was evident concern in the Midlands that adhering to traditional approaches was problematic in this context. Consistent with the pragmatic narratives in the novel ecosystems literature more broadly, in the Midlands, there was an observable shift in the way that biodiversity conservation was framed, away from the traditional aspirations of restoring historical fidelity to a focus on preserving the intact remnants of native vegetation. There were concerns that by prioritising the few remaining grasslands that meet the formal definitions of what is biodiversity worth protecting, existing policy instruments were neglecting important grasslands and overall ecosystem function of the landscape, which was seen as

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a key priority. It was not that they felt listed lowland native grassland were unimportant, but rather that they were only one part of the picture. A key feature of the shifting narrative was that biodiversity conservation was increasingly seen not only as a purely ecological endeavour but also as a social one, which is consistent with earlier discussions about the increasing importance of managing systems as SESs in the Anthropocene. Given its almost entirely private tenure and its long history as a productive agricultural region, many interviewees stressed that biodiversity in the Midlands could not be considered independently of its socio-­ economic context. As a heavily modified agricultural landscape where landholders own nearly all biodiversity assets, many thought conservation was necessarily broader than the legislatively framed notion that emphasises protection of rare species and ecological communities. In a fragmented landscape such as the Midlands, where colonial socio-­ economic factors have been shaping the landscape for over 200  years, there was a willingness to consider different tactics that would have been more common in remote, relatively untouched areas of Tasmania. The Midlands was frequently described as a ‘working landscape’, where a critical consideration was how to make biodiversity conservation a viable activity on productive farms: It is a working landscape with some natural values. So, it’s about how to manage the biodiversity within that context and not about changing the context (State government interviewee)

There was a sense that the landscape was in an ‘undesirable’ state but that it could be returned to a state that was more ‘desirable’ for both people and ecosystems, if it were not for the fact that legislation and policy had narrowed the focus of conservation efforts. There was also a sense that the current approach could not guard against future social, economic, and climatic changes, so there was a danger that continuing down this track would lead to islands of protected grasslands in a sea of intensive agriculture. More than that, given the reality of the pressures on those ecosystems, there was a danger that they would struggle to maintain any grasslands that could meet the legislative standard in the future. A protectionist view of conservation was still prevalent across Tasmania as

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a whole, making it one of the states in Australia with the most extensive public reserve system. But in the Midlands, this view was becoming increasingly rare, with active management and disturbance seen as critical to maintaining a healthy landscape and native vegetation viewed as important regardless of its legislatively protected status, especially for grassland ecosystems. Maintaining ecosystem function and addressing the degraded condition of the Midlands also emerged as important elements of addressing biodiversity decline, which had been otherwise neglected by traditional approaches. As one NGO interviewee said: The question for me has changed a little bit away from the traditional conserve, protect, language to functional thresholds…just what makes a healthy functional landscape that other things can operate in, like agriculture?

Many interviewees discussed the need for institutional interventions that made conservation a more attractive prospect in this working landscape. Some interviewees thus thought accepting some agricultural intensification was inevitable and could potentially make landholders more open to conservation on the balance of the property. At the same time, interviewees often lamented the shift away from traditional industries like wool, seen as more complementary with biodiversity conservation than irrigated crops, and there was nervousness about how economic and land use pressures would be managed under the current legislation and in the broader political climate.

Expanding the Conservation Toolkit While many of these changes were evident when examining the narratives and framing used within the conservation community in the Tasmanian Midlands, changing narratives were in sync with some of the changes in the other domains of governance. Over time, there were gradual changes in organisational cultures and changing norms with respect to what it means to conserve biodiversity in highly modified landscapes,

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as well as assumptions of what constitutes success (Domain 2). There were a number of institutional entrepreneurs who worked individually and collectively over years to change institutions and practices within government agencies, conservation NGOs, and among landholders (Domain 5). This then began to change the logics of decision-making and the need to develop a new vision, new objectives, and to reflect on the use of conventional policy and management tools (Domain 3). While there had been progress in this domain, this had been limited by the lack of change to legislation, policy, and governance structures (Domain 5). Expansion of the conservation toolkit is consistent with broadening ideas around what conservation means in the Midlands context. In contrast to the aforementioned narrative around novel ecosystems, where doubling down on traditional approaches to conservation can heroically save biodiversity from the brink, there was clearer alignment with pragmatic narratives in the literature. In a highly modified landscape like the Midlands, it made sense to most participants that there was a need to expand the notion of what biodiversity is worth protecting and pursue new avenues for conservation in this particular context. The idea was that opening up conservation, rather than doubling down on efforts that have so far proven insufficient, was needed to save the Midlands landscape. This meant expanding the conservation toolkit to include new approaches, new goals, and different metrics. Contrary to fears in the literature that this will displace efforts to protect native grasslands in their ‘ideal’ state, this opening up was happening alongside traditional approaches, such as conservation covenants, management agreements, threatened species recovery plans, and more. All of these were happening, but they were seen as leaving huge gaps in terms of what was actually needed, as they tended to be constrained by legislation and policy that aimed to protect historical artefacts, rather than healthy, functioning ecosystems. One of the features that makes the Midlands case so interesting from the perspective of the issue of ecosystem transformation and novel ecosystems is that it was not necessary to deliberately adopt the novel ecosystems moniker. The narratives around conservation have shifted in response to the changing conditions outlined before rather than as a result of an intentional effort to embrace novel ecosystems. The key actors used many of the institutional work practices, outlined in Chap. 3, to

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slowly chip away at institutional culture by employing strategies to develop new identities in the conservation community, constructing new networks based on changed norms, and strategically mobilising influential actors and leaders to gain support for change (Lawrence et al. 2009; Montgomery et al. 2012). This institutional work paid off, as there were shifts evident not just among landholders but also within organisations that tend to adhere to traditional notions of conservation (Domain 5). This shift was not universal, but it was significant enough to make it the most dominant narrative in interviews, surveys, and workshops, and it had garnered serious attention and action from state and federal governments and conservation NGOs. Conventional approaches such as restrictive covenants and management agreements had been complemented by shifts towards more innovative solutions. One key initiative, the Protected Areas on Private Land Program, has been offering incentives for the adoption of voluntary conservation covenants for over 20 years (DPIPWE 2019). In recent years, NGOs have played more prominent roles in the Midlands, including Bush Heritage Australia, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Greening Australia, and regional and local conservation and Landcare groups. The latter delivers ‘softer’ approaches, including the delivery of agri-­ environment programmes that provide conservation information, technical advice, and financial assistance to landholders. As with most other areas of Australia, they found enthusiastic uptake at the beginning of these programmes, but the enthusiasm of early adopters is not met by many other landholders. The level of activity of many of these regional and local groups has also waned in recent years due to funding cuts and repeated structural reorganisation by state and central governments (Tennent and Lockie 2013). Similarly to other areas of the world, initiatives in the Midlands are shifting to those that blend market-based approaches with state involvement and community-based approaches to governance (Higgins et  al. 2014). For example, the state and federal governments have run a series of market-oriented tender processes targeting under-reserved vegetation communities listed under the EPBC Act (Iftekhar et  al. 2013). While these had been very successful in terms of engagement, it was feared that they were undermining long-term efforts to develop a conservation ethic

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amongst landholders. Another initiative, the Midlandscapes programme, focused strategically across the whole bioregion and had developed a vision collaboratively with many different actors in the region, shifting the structure of governance towards a more ‘bottom-up’ approach (Domain 4). The Midlandscapes programme operates under a ‘Conservation Action Plan’ shared by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Bush Heritage Australia, and Greening Australia, all NGOs, rather than being driven by the government, and it was developed in close collaboration with landholders. Conservation Action Planning is the way that a number of Australian NGOs implement the international Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, which put collaboration and capacity-building at the core of achieving biodiversity outcomes (Carr et al. 2017; CMP 2020). The initiative also includes funding through the Midlands Conservation Fund, a perpetual fund providing stewardship payments to farmers who enter an outcome-based agreement. This outcome-­based approach emerged from pressure from a key group of landholders and has been operating for over 7 years at this point. Although perhaps not entirely innovative in some countries, this is certainly innovative (and potentially transformative) in a country with the narrow legislative framing, described earlier. Although an excellent example of how to circumvent inflexible institutional structures, it is worth noting that it has not yet led to broader-scale changes. It was pioneering in its own right, as it required the development of new metrics and terms of agreement (Domain 3), and it is worth monitoring as a future potential example of ‘incremental transformation’. As mentioned previously landholder attitudes, values, and behaviours were considered key to achieving good biodiversity outcomes. Although interviewees acknowledged that landholder behaviour could exacerbate biodiversity decline, in general, they emphasised the positive role landholders could play and the ways in which institutional change could be fostered to more effectively motivate more of them to participate. However, there was a sense that they had engaged most of the willing participants in conservation already, and there was a need to move beyond ‘the usual suspects’. There were also questions around fairness (Domain 2) because much of the funding had been directed towards these usual suspects, so there were tensions between efficient spending and fairness

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(Clement et  al. 2017). Expanding the notion of what is biodiversity worth conserving could address some of these issues as well as move the debate towards developing a more fit-for-purpose approach to conservation (Domain 3). In the Midlands, this means focusing on how to achieve good outcomes in the context of the landholders’ very real needs to remain financially viable. Several repeated the adage ‘you can’t be green if you’re in the red’. As one landholder commented: We recognize the need for these farms to be businesses first and foremost. We also have a strong commitment to handing the farm on to the next generation if they so desire, and we’d also like to have it productive and in a better environmental state. Much of that has dictated our decision-­ making along the way and we are thinking constantly of the next generation in how we approach conservation

It was evident that this shifting narrative had emerged after years of conservationists and landholders working together on conservation, facilitated in large part by institutional entrepreneurs and their effective institutional work practices discussed earlier (Domain 5). One of the reasons that this expansion of the conservation toolbox was so important for biodiversity is because it provided redundancy in a system where the existing regulatory measures had poor buffering capacity (Domain 5). While codification of threatened species and vegetation types in legislation is an essential part of the conservation toolbox, these listings tended to give a false sense of security that the grasslands were being protected. In reality, many academics, regulators, and conservationists pointed out that it was easy to turn a listed grassland into an unlisted grassland by changing management or through private property decisions that were entirely legal and outside regulatory powers. Although clearing listed grasslands is illegal, benign neglect and mismanagement are not, and fertilising or overgrazing could convert a patch of grassland to one that no longer meets legislated criteria (Clement et  al. 2017). Although mitigation measures were required to limit the impact of the irrigation scheme on listed grasslands and there was commitment to no clearance or conversion of native grasslands, the commitments were seen to focus too much on process rather than biodiversity outcomes, whilst

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also lacking authority and accountability mechanisms (Clement et  al. 2015). This commitment does not apply, however, to other important native grasslands, many of which are not even listed under the Act. It was also seen to be inappropriately top-down and merely tinkering around the edges in a landscape that needed a much larger, strategic plan and the cooperation of landholders in order to confront the systemic loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Limits to Change All of these evident changes in narratives, norms, culture, and the tools and logics of conservation decision-making and practices were limited by the overarching legal frameworks and the policies, priorities, and governance structures that flow from that. The Midlands is a prime place to experiment with approaches to managing the whole landscape, integrating conservation of intact ecosystems alongside novel and hybrid ecosystems, where some of these frameworks could be tested in practice (Perring et  al. 2013; Hobbs et  al. 2014; Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014). However, one of the core challenges of changing governance is that it often requires changes across governance levels and spatial scales. At the end of the day, biodiversity conservation in Australia, even beyond the Midlands, has expanded in many ways to embrace multiple approaches to conservation. Still, its core focus remains centred on conserving individual flora and fauna species, as well as specified ecological communities, that are listed as threatened under federal and state legislation. Most interviewees commented that a landscape-scale approach to biodiversity conservation, explicitly considering ecosystem function and large-scale threatening processes, was a more fitting approach for a fragmented bioregion like the Midlands. The call for such an approach is not new in Australia, and reaches well beyond the Midlands (Hawke 2009; Clement 2015). This case study was part of a broader project to provide tool, techniques, and policy approaches to support such a shift (Landscapes and Policy Hub 2016). Legislation, policy, and practice have been slow to shift, however, and limited conservation funds are inevitably driven by those arrangements and the political priorities that flow from them.

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Because legislation is a major driver of funding and investment in conservation, this means that many ecologically, socially, and economically important habitats fall outside the bounds of legislative protection from further degradation. For the Midlands, the contrast between the narrow framing by legislation and the nature of the problem, that is, conserving biodiversity on private land and within its broader socio-economic context, across landscapes, is an even more pressing problem. In an already modified landscape, conservation of ecosystem functions seemed a more appropriate target, particularly as it was becoming clearer that what little native grassland was left was likely to transform into something not considered valuable under the current governance regime. While the suite of policy instruments used over time has diversified, most stakeholders thought this could be improved further by developing solutions that build on the region’s multifunctional, ‘working landscape’ context. For example, although the state had successfully secured many restrictive covenants and prescriptive management agreements, the general view was that these more rigid legal agreements were of limited use in securing the future of the grasslands. These prescriptive instruments not only constrain property rights, but their philosophy is antithetical to the landholder view of grasslands as integral to productive farms and requiring active, flexible management. While the Midlands Conservation Fund was heralded as a welcome new approach, amidst the optimism there was some minor scepticism about whether the available financial incentives would be sufficient to engage landholders and whether the outcome-based agreements would be effective in the absence of prescriptions. Only time will tell, but if the proof of concept is successful, it may facilitate further changes down the line, as the programme has already been celebrated as an innovative approach that strikes a balance between top-down and ‘bottom up’ approaches (Williams et al. 2015). There are other initiatives that have sought to provide innovative alternatives in the Midlands, and this is a positive sign for institutional change, since the existence of self-organising networks is thought to be a valuable source of adaptive capacity (Domain 3). For example, a group of three landholders established the Tasmanian Rangelands Group, inspired by the Malpai Borderlands Group of ranchers in the United States, which aims to create a ‘radical centre’ that discards the dichotomy between conservation and

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production and seeks to make them symbiotic (Sayre 2005). At the time of the research, the Tasmanian network had been negotiating with government agencies, environmental NGOs, and philanthropists to make biodiversity conservation a financially viable proposition on working farms, but it was struggling to institutionalise their efforts. It is also important to note that there is often a difference in rhetoric versus reality, which is why there are limits to what changes in narratives are able to achieve. Many of the conditions in this case study meet those that are said to have transformative potential for governance. There were evident changes to values, rules, and knowledge that opened up pathways to change, and the ways in which biodiversity conservation has been re-­ framed has revealed a number of opportunities to focus on new ecosystem services that can facilitate adaptation (Colloff et al. 2017). In the case of the Midlands, the aforementioned innovations were used as the basis of a number of governance reforms options, along with a range of features that would address other areas of poor fit (Clement et al. 2015b). These were then tested in a series of collaborative scenario planning workshops to see if governance reform might be able to change some of the key social, economic, or ecological drivers of biodiversity decline in the Midlands (Mitchell et al. 2016). Under current governance, biodiversity outcomes were projected to get worse under all scenarios (Mitchell et al. 2016). While the governance reforms that shifted towards the more innovative approaches described earlier went some way towards embracing more systems-based, function-focused framing that so many participants said they embraced, this enthusiasm did not translate into the workshops. Reforming governance in this way was predicted to only make a minor difference for biodiversity, and participants showed a slight preference for options that maintained a greater level of government control (Mitchell et al. 2016). There are a number of potential reasons for this, including the challenge of thinking beyond what sort of future is possible and not just probable (Rickards et al. 2014), which is linked in part to the way that institutions can constrain thinking. This reinforces the challenges and complexities of institutional change (Chap. 2). In short, even when the conditions are ripe for change, it is likely to require concerted, sustained effort to actually realise that change across all domains. This is the case even in the Midlands, a highly modified landscape where actors are

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open to the idea of changing governance to embrace new ideas and approaches, including the conservation of novel ecosystems and the development of new goals.

Reflecting on the Novel Ecosystem Framing Many ecologists, conservation biologists, and others engaged in conservation are constantly confronting loss in their work. Novel ecosystems typify this loss. For some, they can be seen as degraded systems, with the loss of species and the loss of ecosystem integrity to be mourned and efforts to incorporate them into restoration resisted (Hobbs 2013). Giving in to novel ecosystems, in this view, is seen as ‘giving up’ on what it means to conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystems (Murcia et al. 2014; Clement and Standish 2018). Yet, just as there are glimmers of hope in the Anthropocene debate more generally, there are also glimmers of hope in the debate on novel ecosystems. An alternative view to the idea that novel ecosystems represent surrender is that they are a reality that must be reckoned with, especially if we are to make progress in conservation across the significant proportion of the biosphere that has been modified by people. Acceptance and intentional management of novel ecosystems represent an opportunity to enhance the benefits these ecosystems can provide. Rather than seeing this acceptance as surrender or a threat to conventional conservation, it is considered a way to incorporate otherwise neglected landscapes into conservation, expanding the portfolio of options (Hobbs et al. 2017; Miller and Bestelmeyer 2017). Whether the concept of folding novel ecosystems into restoration and conservation practices is resisted or embraced depends in part on these differing perspectives. As the Midland case demonstrates, it also may depend in part on what narratives become dominant, and those narratives may not explicitly discuss the emergence of novel ecosystems. This does not mean that the underlying issues of loss of function, changes in species composition, and harmful land management practices cannot be confronted, but rather that they can be confronted with whatever framing works in that context. In debating what novel ecosystems are and what they mean, it is easy to get bogged down in the controversial details of this debate and the

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meaning of specific terms. For communities and conservationists working in these highly modified ecosystems, the need to rethink what it means to conserve biodiversity is a pragmatic response to the conditions they face, rather than a sign of surrender.

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Selge, S., Fischer, A. and van der Wal, R. (2011) ‘Public and professional views on invasive non-native species – A qualitative social scientific investigation’, Biological Conservation. Elsevier Ltd, 144(12), pp. 3089–3097. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.014. Simberloff, D. (2011) ‘Non-natives: 141 scientists object’, Nature. Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved., 475(7354), p.  36. doi: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/ v475/n7354/abs/475036a.html#supplementary-information. Simberloff, D. (2015) ‘Non-native invasive species and novel ecosystems’, F1000prime reports, 7. Simberloff, D., Murcia, C. and Aronson, J. (2015) ‘‘Novel ecosystems’ are a Trojan horse for conservation’, Ensia. Standish, R. et al. (2013) ‘Concerns about novel ecosystems’, in Hobbs, R. J., Higgs, E. S., and Hall, C. M. (eds) Novel ecosystems : intervening in the new ecological world order. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 296–309. Standish, R. J. et al. (2014) ‘Resilience in ecology: Abstraction, distraction, or where the action is?’, Biological Conservation, 177(0), pp. 43–51. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.008. Steffen, W. et al. (2009) Australia’s Biodiversity and Climate Change. Canberra, ACT: CSIRO Publishing. Available at: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/ lib/liverpool/detail.action?docID=542595. Svenning, J.-C. (2018) ‘Proactive conservation and restoration of botanical diversity in the Anthropocene’s ‘rambunctious garden’’, American Journal of Botany. Wiley-Blackwell, 105(6), pp. 963–966. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ ajb2.1117. Tennent, R. and Lockie, S. (2013) ‘Vale Landcare: the rise and decline of community-­based natural resource management in rural Australia’, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Taylor & Francis, 56(4), pp. 572–587. Thomas, C.  D. (2013) ‘The Anthropocene could raise biological diversity’, Nature News, 502(7469), p. 7. Thomas, C. D. (2017) Inheritors of the Earth. London: Penguin. Thomas, C. D. (2020) ‘The development of Anthropocene biotas’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375(1794). doi: https:// doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0113. Thomas, C.  D. and Palmer, G. (2015) ‘Non-native plants add to the British flora without negative consequences for native diversity’, Proceedings of the

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National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi: https://doi. org/10.1073/pnas.1423995112. Truitt, A. M. et al. (2015) ‘What is Novel About Novel Ecosystems: Managing Change in an Ever-Changing World’, Environmental Management, 55, pp. 1217–1226. Waldron, A. et al. (2013) ‘Targeting global conservation funding to limit immediate biodiversity declines’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. National Academy of Sciences, 110(29), pp. 12144–12148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1221370110. Williams, N., Marshall, A. and Morgan, J. (2015) Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia. CSIRO PUBLISHING (EBL-Schweitzer). Available at: https://books. google.co.uk/books?id=zu5hCAAAQBAJ. Woinarski, J. C. Z., Burbidge, A. A. and Harrison, P. L. (2015) ‘Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: Decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(15), pp.  4531–4540. doi: https://doi. org/10.1073/pnas.1417301112. Yung, L. et al. (2013) ‘Engaging the public in novel ecosystems’, in Hobbs, R. J., Higgs, E., and Hall, C. (eds) Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 247–256.

5 Cultural Landscapes and Novel Ecosystems

In an epoch characterised by human impacts on natural landscapes and transformation of the way people live on the planet, it is perhaps surprising that there has been so little convergence between the novel ecosystems literature and the literature on conservation in cultural landscapes. Novel ecosystems have emerged in part because of changes in social, economic, and cultural activities which, over the last few centuries, have diverged significantly from those of previous ages. Cultural landscapes have been shaped by many of the same changes, with globalisation, agricultural intensification, abandonment, consumption patterns, and urbanisation altering the natural and cultural values of these landscapes and, in many cases, putting them at risk (Plieninger and Bieling 2012a). In other words, the drivers towards novelty are fundamentally the same across landscapes, whether they are cultural or more ‘natural’. However, while there has been some exploration of the synergies between the concept of novel ecosystems and cultural landscape conservation (Macdonald and King 2018), it is rare in practice to hear someone refer to a cultural landscape as a ‘novel ecosystem’ or express concerns about it becoming a novel ecosystem. This may be because they are often perceived to be ancient systems, with some having been transformed long © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_5

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before industrialisation, although in reality, many have had much more recent transformations (Plieninger and Bieling 2012b). There is even an argument to be made that all cultural landscapes were novel at one point in time, even if that was several centuries or even millennia in the past. Regardless of these past changes, it is clear that many landscapes are becoming novel again right now in our current phase of transformation, the pace of which shows no signs of slowing. The need to confront this reality is pressing.

Can Cultural Ecosystems Be Novel Ecosystems? Though cultural landscapes are not often associated with the term ‘novel ecosystems’, it is interesting to note that one of the chief bodies involved in the conservation of cultural landscapes, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), helped to popularise the concept in a 2006 paper that was born of workshops sponsored by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (UNESCO 2019a). This programme is important for the conservation of cultural ecosystems, with 700 biosphere reserves across the world that seek to conserve both biodiversity and cultural diversity in highly valued cultural landscapes. Although it could be argued that the whole world is now a cultural landscape in the Anthropocene, these landscapes are valued specifically for the ways in which human activities have shaped them dynamically over time through activities such as grazing, harvesting, grass cutting, coppicing, and more. Cultural landscapes are broadly defined as cultural properties that represent ‘the combined works of nature and man’ in the World Heritage Convention, and are ‘illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal’ (UNESCO 2019b, p.  20). Biosphere reserves incorporate nature conservation—but it is not their sole purpose—and they do exclude human activities. Rather, they seek to maintain evidence of human settlement in a landscape context in ways that are important to many of the people who live, work, and visit those landscapes. Cultural

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landscapes provide a range of services beyond biodiversity where losses are evident but even more difficult to quantify, including the loss of countryside, heritage, and scenery that is aesthetically pleasing and good for recreation (Plieninger et al. 2014). This chapter considers the ways in which rapid and intense social, economic, and ecological pressures are transforming cultural landscapes through the lens of novel ecosystems. In doing so, it aligns with a particular view of cultural landscapes that is common in the nature conservation literature, which sees these as landscapes offering a range of benefits, including heritage, livelihoods, aesthetics, and biodiversity, but which are threatened by change or disappearance (Jones 2003). This is of course not the only view. Cultural landscapes are often biodiverse and are increasingly embraced as important tools for nature conservation (Phillips 2002; Angelstam 2006; Plieninger and Bieling 2012b). In practice, this has meant that the conservation of cultural ecosystems and the conservation of biodiversity have sometimes been at odds, with the two views tending to differ on the role to be played by humans—whether to keep them out of landscapes to protect biodiversity, or to use human activity to maintain particular features of landscapes (Plieninger and Bieling 2012a; Taylor and Francis 2014). In the case of the latter, the further question posed is what, precisely, should be the aim of such human activity, and, in the context of the Anthropocene, how achievable are these goals? Ecological restoration often seeks to restore ecosystems to baselines prior to human settlement and seeks to minimise human drivers of change. When one seeks to restore a cultural landscape, on the other hand, one is seeking to return it to a form that exemplifies the intertwined relationships between humans and nature. In both cases, we are faced with the reality of novel contexts in the Anthropocene, which require a rethink of traditional paradigms, practices, goals, and underlying assumptions (Macdonald and King 2018). Novel ecosystems provide an important lens through which to undertake this rethink. Consideration of novel ecosystems can enlighten us to the nature of change in cultural landscapes and also provide opportunities for expanding ideas about what services novel ecosystems might provide. The pressures that have created novel ecosystems are also akin to the pressures that have eroded the values of cultural landscapes. A

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number of synergies between research on cultural landscapes and novel ecosystems have emerged. This includes the complex relationship between humans and nature, the dynamic nature of ecosystems, the fraught challenges of returning landscapes to static baselines, and the need for more participatory approaches that accommodate multiple values (Macdonald and King 2018). Those involved in landscape-scale conservation, in particular, have had to grapple with the notion of cultural landscapes and novel ecosystems, as these often form a substantive portion of the matrix across a landscape (Craig et al. 2000; Moreira et al. 2006). A key aspect of this struggle is recognising that restoration to historical baselines—irrespective of whether those are rooted in ideas about nature or culture—is often untenable in the novel context of the Anthropocene. Given that ecosystems have never been static, it may have never been a reasonable goal, and yet it is at the core of much conservation practice. It also means recognising that one of the many reasons that novel ecosystems are self-organising and difficult to restore is because they exist within transformed social and cultural contexts that reinforce those conditions. Just as the novel ecosystems literature draws attention to the need to consider different baselines, new goals, and multiple values (Light et al. 2013; Higgs 2017), the same needs to be done for cultural landscapes if they are to deal with the novel social and ecological realities of the Anthropocene.

Changing Cultures and Shifting Baselines This chapter focuses on the intersection between biodiversity conservation, cultural landscapes, and drivers of novelty that are transforming those landscapes. Drawing on examples from the UK, Estonia, and Japan, it focuses primarily on the second (ideas) and third (objectives) domains of change in governance, although it touches on the other three too (stories, policies, and capacity) (Chap. 3). The narratives as well as the case presented in the previous chapter of grassland conservation in the Tasmanian Midlands suggest that there is a view that embracing cultural landscapes may provide some kind of immunity to concerns about the emergence of novel ecosystems. This idea is evident in the notion that

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novel ecosystems are irrelevant in the ‘old world’, as well as the notion that the Midlands, and Australia more broadly, would be better served by adopting the concept in its agricultural landscapes. After all, the notion of conserving biodiversity within a ‘working landscape’ acknowledges that biodiversity does not exist in a vacuum. Beyond the Tasmanian Midlands example, several authors have suggested embracing ideas of working landscapes, living landscapes, and multifunctionality that will not only help maintain livelihoods and social values, but also help address biodiversity loss and modernise both ecological and cultural conservation practices, helping us move away from problematic preservationist ethics (Agnoletti 2006; Plieninger and Bieling 2012b; Roe and Taylor 2014). Achieving all of these things will be demanding, and as with all aspects of the Anthropocene, there is a need to be realistic about the world in which we are now working. Not only are there evident tensions between nature conservation and cultural landscape conservation, it is difficult, if not impossible, to maximise both biodiversity values and the full range of ecosystem services provided by cultural landscapes. What this chapter seeks to do is to explore potential leverage points for grappling with transformation in cultural landscapes, with an eye to improving social and ecological outcomes. There are opportunities to change governance by critically reflecting on the way we think about conservation of biodiversity in cultural landscapes (Domain 2). These are driven by a number of different cultural and normative factors, including cultural (often romantic) ideas of what landscapes should look like, as well as professional and social norms, and assumptions about what is most important to the communities that live in those landscapes. These factors are fundamental in shaping the way we respond to change in cultural landscapes, both past and present (Hunziker et al. 2008). There is also a thread of sadness in the literature on cultural landscapes, with the idea that transformation of these landscapes presents grave losses for both society and ecology. The loss of communally managed commons and the erosion of their stewardship have long attracted a great deal of interest from those who are primarily concerned with biodiversity loss and nature conservation, as well as those who are more focused on cultural landscapes (Ostrom 1990; Agnoletti 2006; Plieninger and Bieling 2012a; Rotherham 2013). It has led some to ask if we have come

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to the ‘end of tradition,’ where communities and nature are being cleaved apart, either through full-on abandonment or from sustained social and economic transformations that render the management activities that shaped these landscapes obsolete (Bolthouse 2013). As with all of the conversations so far, there is also a hope that this situation offers the potential for renewal: Surveying this grave situation, one is certainly prone to wonder whether we are indeed witnessing the ‘end of tradition’? The question mark after the ‘end of tradition’ is imperative, however, for the end of tradition also marks a potential beginning. Indeed, while many common traditions are in the process of unravelling, there are numerous instances where new traditions are being rewoven from the loose threads. The regrettable end of older commoning traditions thus signals an opportunity for remaking commons through the reweaving of custom. (Bolthouse 2013, p. 387)

Just as institutional change means building new practices on top of old traditions, the same can happen in cultural landscapes. And similar to the notion of a ‘good’ Anthropocene, it is possible that, by reweaving custom, many cultural landscapes that are experiencing loss of tradition can shift towards a more positive trajectory. There are complex relationships between nature and culture that lead not only to different assemblages of species in different areas but also to different ideas about what is worthy of conservation (Rozzi 2013; Collier 2014; Backstrom et al. 2018; Bridgewater and Rotherham 2019). Ancient and species-rich hedgerows, for example, are a priority habitat under the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan. Yet, the ‘ancient’ here is subjective, defined as the time before the Enclosures Acts were passed between 1720 and 1840 (University of Hertfordshire 2011). Such ideas might seem absurd in other contexts, but they make sense for British conservationists. All of this points to several key considerations in any discussion of novel ecosystems—novel with respect to what? And to whom? Novel on what timescale? This is why revisiting baselines, objectives, and the logics of decision-making is essential when considering of how governance might need to change (Domain 3).

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Baselines are important in both the conservation of cultural landscapes and ecological restoration ecology; they just adhere to different logic. In cultural landscape conservation, the goal is to maintain living traditional cultural landscapes or restore/preserve past cultural landscapes, whereas ecological restoration favours returning ecosystems to historical trajectories (Macdonald and King 2018). Knowledge about history is a virtue in restoration because it provides clues about what might happen in the future, but one of the challenges of the Anthropocene is that we inevitably confront challenges we have not previously seen (Higgs 2012). The emergence of novel ecosystems and the existence of cultural ecosystems in novel contexts call into question whether those baselines are achievable or potentially even desirable in some cases. The issue of baselines is one of the most common threads in the novel ecosystems literature, because so much of conservation and restoration practice are determined by the baselines we strive towards. The novel ecosystems debate has brought the inherent subjectivity in these baselines to the fore. In North America and Australia, these baselines tend to be anchored to pre-human settlement, though these ideals are quite difficult to achieve given the extensive modification made to the landscape in subsequent centuries. In Europe, many of the most intensive changes occurred several millennia ago, so if defining novelty with respect to a baseline from a few hundred years ago, then it is easy to dismiss the label of ‘novel ecosystems’ even in highly modified ecosystems. Whatever the logic used to determine them, baselines provide an incredibly important anchor point for developing objectives. What baselines are used, how those baselines are determined, and who is involved in decisions about baselines and objectives are fundamental questions in conservation and restoration. These questions are also central points of discussion in the novel ecosystems debate. While having a strong evidence base is important, many of the issues about baselines, objectives, and decision-making are normative questions that fall into the realm of governance. Defining an ‘ideal’ state, as represented by an agreed baseline, is not necessarily about going back to the most biodiverse, or even the most functional, ecosystem state. You would be hard pressed to argue that the moorlands of the UK, for example, are more biodiverse than the forests they replaced, but the issue of planting trees on the moors is

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politically contentious. Attitudes towards non-native species and views on what species should be in a landscape also differ significantly between members of the public and professionals, and across different geographic contexts (c.f. Selge et al. 2011; Lewis et al. 2019). There is of course a link to Domain 2 here, as there are a number of cultural and normative factors at play. The perception of what landscapes should look like, and the value placed on different aspects of a landscape, inevitably inform what ecosystem state is considered ideal. That is true both in ‘natural’ areas as well as in those systems that are modified, for example, cultural landscapes or novel ecosystems. Historical baselines have long been, and continue to be, the cornerstones of conservation practice. Ecological baselines refer to points in time and space that are used to compare present-day sites to some time period in the past. While they previously were anchored to fairly static states, in recent years, restoration has shifted away from this notion towards a more dynamic idea of historical trajectories (McDonald et al. 2016). They are informed by historical data, but over what time period is a key factor and has a profound impact on management decisions, as well as whether an ecosystem is considered ‘novel’ or whether a cultural landscape is in need of restoration. They are often derived from historical literature, palaeoecological studies, or surviving relics of relatively untouched ecosystems (Gillson et al. 2011). Some ecosystems are novel only when they are compared to historical conditions (several centuries in the past or, in some cases, even prior to human settlement), whilst others are assumed novel when regarded from an evolutionary or geologic perspective (several millennia or across geologic timescales) (Radeloff et al. 2015; Truitt et al. 2015). Partly, perceptions on what constitutes a baseline and what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable change are informed by disciplinary backgrounds. Palaeoecologists, for example, tend to view novelty differently to how a conservationist working on restoring land abandoned in the past century defines the idea. As one interviewee said about cultural ecosystems: If in the 1100s as this new system was set up and the forests were cleared, we would have been out there now chaining ourselves to trees saying, stop! Don’t cut down the virgin forest! And now the system has collapsed, but

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here we are trying to fight to save what had been created by us in the 1100s. I have changed my view a bit, though, because [woodland meadows] are a novel ecosystem, but they are a really attractive ecosystem. So even though it’s made by people, you know, the door is open, it’s a novel ecosystem, certainly novel in the 1100s. But because it’s been there 800 years, we’ve come to accept it and we’ve come to like it. And I think conservation is about what we like, you know

Much of conservation is driven by exactly that: striving towards baselines that return ecosystems to a state we like—often shaped by aesthetic qualities and nostalgia. There is a certain romanticism evident in much of conservation, whether it be from activists, scholars, practitioners, or politicians (Alagona et al. 2012). This nostalgia is so strongly embedded into conservation that some have argued for its pre-eminence, even if the embrace of nostalgia is demonstrably at odds with the changing world (Higgs 2003, 2012; Howell et al. 2019).

Desirable States and Cultural Ecosystems The previous chapter explored the notion of helpful and unhelpful resilience (Standish et  al. 2014), and the notion of ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ species in ecological restoration. The same ideas can be applied to cultural landscapes that have experienced radical or even sustained, gradual change. As with any other landscape, people may hold fixed notions about what a cultural landscape ‘should’ look like. Despite a popular perception that cultural landscapes are meant to be held, like a snapshot in time, in a particular historic state, it is important to remember that in reality cultural landscapes are dynamic and have always needed to respond to changing conditions (Plieninger and Bieling 2012b; Plieninger et al. 2014). It is also important not to assume that people want cultural landscapes to be static, and that aesthetic preferences as well as what values are considered most important will inevitably shift over time. Much of the writing on cultural ecosystems is based on tacit assumptions or outdated evidence, and there is a need to collect updated and

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context-specific evidence about what people do and do not consider desirable, both now and into the future. Accepting that cultural ecosystems are not immune to the concept of novel ecosystems can open up space for the development of new possibilities, even if they defy long-standing assumptions. Although cultural landscapes have always been dynamic because of their close connections to human activity, what is different now is just as true as for conservation writ large, that is, the pace, scale, and intensity of the drivers of change in those landscapes. In contrast to the vision of a quaint rural landscape with small-scale, diverse systems of agriculture and traditional villages, the reality for many cultural landscapes across the world is that they are facing the same large-scale global geopolitical and biophysical pressures as everywhere else. Many of these are related to governance, for example, socio-political transformation, shifts from state control to community governance, changes to legal rights and autonomy, demographic and socio-cultural changes (e.g. migration, ageing populations, abandonment), and economic globalisation (Gu and Subramanian 2014). Because many cultural landscapes are agricultural landscapes, agricultural policy has also been a major driver of change, with subsidies often facilitating intensification and exacerbating issues with abandonment in cultural landscapes (MacDonald et al. 2000). Discussing transformation of cultural landscapes allows us to focus on many of the social issues that have been raised in the novel ecosystems literature. Although a great deal of focus is on grieving the loss of intact native biodiversity, there are also reasons to mourn the loss of social and cultural values as well. The intensification of anthropogenic change shifts the bar of restoration and challenges our ideas of historicity, and it is unclear what historical references are useful for informing recovery and resilience in this changed world. Novel ecosystems may weaken ideas of historical fidelity, but there are many different ways for history to inform restoration (or renewal) of landscapes whilst still allowing them to flourish under novel conditions (Higgs 2012). Historical referents may become less important, but they are unlikely to disappear altogether, and for good social and ecological reasons. Whether novel ecosystems will be valued by people and whether they will provide services people value are still open questions (Light et al. 2013; Yung et al. 2013; Clement and

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Standish 2018), particularly if people do not feel connected to those landscapes in the same way as they do to historical ecosystems and cultural landscapes. It is perhaps a terrifying prospect that the initial shock of transformation might be followed by an adjustment, and novel ecosystems will simply become normal eventually. Yet, this is precisely what happened in the formation of many cultural landscapes with important ecological values.

Cultural Severance and Biodiversity Loss This brings us to a central idea that has informed the research in this chapter: cultural severance, which refers to the physical and psychological disassociation between cultural activities and landscapes (Rotherham 2007). The term provides a useful bridge between all that has been discussed so far, as it connects the idea that ecosystems are transforming to the idea that social and economic systems are transformed. It also allows us to consider the understudied social dimension of novel ecosystems, including what the loss of intact ecosystems means for long-standing cultural connections to ecosystems, and how many changes in ecosystems can be seen as a result of the severance of those connections (Rotherham 2013). In this view, the Anthropocene represents a great homogenisation of the biosphere through the movement of non-native species across the world. In what is sometimes called ‘biocultural homogenisation,’ there are concerns about the interwoven losses of native biological and cultural diversity at the local, regional, and global scales (Rozzi 2012, 2018; Gavin et al. 2015; Bridgewater and Rotherham 2019). It is essential to note here that this book does not cover the critical issues of traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous stewardship of ecosystems. Not only would I not be able to do these issues justice because they are not within my realm of expertise, but there are many other authors who have written about these issues in depth. However, it is interesting to note that many landscapes that have been shaped by indigenous people, such as a great deal of Australia, are only rarely framed as ‘cultural landscapes’ despite being shaped by Aboriginal people over 50,000 years (Hill et al. 2013, b). With that vast timeframe in mind, it could be said that the history of

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indigenous cultural landscapes is the epitome of cultural severance. Quite a lot of nature conservation, such as protected areas that keep people out, has been viewed as hostile towards indigenous management practices, severing indigenous cultural connections to the land and contributing to the loss of traditional ecological knowledge (Lee 2016; Berkes 2017).

Heathland in the UK The UK has a long history of extensive human use and is more densely populated even than most other European countries, so it is dominated by cultural landscapes. Heathland and moorland are the most extensive semi-natural ecosystems in the UK, though, as with all landscapes, they have faced a range of pressures that have reduced their extent and eroded natural and cultural values. For many, these are perhaps the landscapes with the most romantic associations, as they feature heavily in the works of many celebrated Romantic writers of the nineteenth century. Most of this romanticism is associated with the uplands, areas of heathland that dominate some of the country’s biggest national parks, such as the Peak District, Lake District, and Dartmoor National Park. However, there are also lowland heathlands, although there is vanishingly little of this left, as it is about one-fifth of its former extent (The Wildlife Trusts n.d.-b). Heathland can be wet or dry, and there are several different types of heath, including transitional heath, acidic mires, and coastal heath, but for the purposes of this section, it is sufficient to focus broadly on upland and lowland heath as a cultural landscape. These ecosystems are cultural landscapes, shaped over millennia by a range of human activities, including grazing, burning, and cutting. Traditional uses would have included harvesting bracken for bedding; turf for fuel or roofing; holly, bramble, and gorse as fodder; grass meadow cut for hay; as well as cutting wood for construction (Rotherham 2017b). Many of these activities began during the Bronze Age approximately 3000 years ago, accelerating a process of widespread human intervention in the landscape that began with the clearing of forests 5000 years ago (The Wildlife Trusts n.d.-a, n.d.-b; English Nature 2002; Rotherham 2017b). The resulting heathlands were the result of human-driven

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ecological transformation. However, because this transformation occurred well before the idea of ecological baselines existed, these landscapes instead are considered to be the baseline to which we should strive. Interviewees noted that they are essentially landscapes frozen in a particular state of succession, and if they are abandoned or disturbance is removed, they go through a major successional shift to birch wood, and with that comes a shift in the flora and fauna found in these landscapes, resulting in dramatic aesthetic changes. Many heathlands are designated as Sites or Areas of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs/ASSIs) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Many of these also have other designations, including protection under the EU Habitats Directives and being part of the European Natura 2000 network. They are also listed as priority habitats or habitats of principal importance under legislation in each of the devolved administrations (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) and the target of country-level biodiversity strategies (JNCC 2019). These designations, as we know by now, do not mean that these landscapes are being conserved. The initial driver of their decline was cultural severance. Like many other priority habitats and particularly cultural landscapes, they have experienced decline, as the economic drivers—and the human activities—that created and maintained them waned. All over the UK, former heathland areas could be considered by most measures to be novel ecosystems. Many projects seek to restore lowland heath to its former glory, but this ignores several major changes, including cultural severance. Heathland is in decline because the cultural activities that maintain it have been on the decline since the Industrial Revolution. Abandonment, conversion to agriculture, forestry, housing, mining, and unsuitable fire regimes have also played their parts. Moreover, climate change is expected to provide further stresses that shift the composition of these landscapes, leading to the loss of what would be considered ‘typical’ heathland landscapes and the potential transformation of them into acid grassland (Natural England and RSPB 2019). While the cultural heritage value of heathlands is clear, the legal designation and prioritisation for biodiversity values may seem strange, given that many of the heathlands and moorlands that remain are speciespoor. Although it is a commonly held belief that this is an inherent feature

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of these cultural landscapes, it has been argued that the heathland we see today is only a shadow of the former commons which was more species-­ diverse prior to cultural abandonment, overgrazing, and management directed at shaping the landscape for particularly profitable species such as grouse (Rotherham 2017a, b; Rotherham and Bradley 2009; Britton et al. 2017). Many interviewees and documents concede these landscapes are not particularly species-rich, but there are questions about whether this has always been the case. When in their ‘ideal’ condition, a heath landscape is often described as a ‘diverse mosaic’ with structural and age diversity of the species, and there can be significant micro-diversity that is not immediately apparent (Rotherham 2009). This does not necessarily mean they are particularly biodiverse by international standards, but they certainly can provide important habitats for flora and fauna if managed appropriately. They are normally dominated by flowering dwarf shrubs such as heathers and gorses, although the species present will depend on whether they are upland or lowland heathlands, and where in the UK they are found (Natural England and RSPB 2019). Even after restoration, they are prone to invasion, particularly from native invasive species such as bracken (Alday et  al. 2013). They generally have poor, acidic mineral soils, due in part to the removal of trees, which make them not particularly useful for broad-scale agriculture, hence the reason they were not converted in the first place. When left to their own devices and trees return, they increase the nutrient content of the soil, though this is generally discussed by British conservationists as a negative feature, because it means they are no longer heathland. Nitrogen deposition from air pollution is also a significant factor in the decline of heathland condition (Holden et al. 2007). This links back to baselines (Domain 3) and policy prescriptions (Domain 4), which are both designed in stark contrast to the Australian example. Rather than prescribing particular species compositions, the Priority Habitat Descriptions provide a mere outline of the characteristic species. The lowland heath description is a brief paragraph summarising the typical species and specifying that the defining characteristic that distinguishes lowland heath from an acid grassland is that it has over 25% dwarf shrub cover. The description of upland heath is slightly longer but similarly vague, with upland heath having to be further distinguished

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from blanket bogs, which also contain shrubs, by having a thinner layer of peat (Maddock 2008). To be eligible for government stewardship funding—which implies a preferred baseline—there also needs to be 1–10% bare ground cover, less than 15% tree cover, age and structural diversity of heather and gorse, and less than 10% bracken (UK Government 2019). This is perhaps the result of the fact that British ecological communities are not as easily classified as they are elsewhere, even in continental Europe, which one interviewee suspected could be due to the especially prolonged period of intensive human use across most of the British Isles. Such an approach is more flexible than the Australian example (Chap. 4) and thus could bring benefits in terms of managing novel ecosystems; however, it may not necessarily lead to more biodiverse or functional ecosystems. For example, this tends to mean restoration focuses on a selection of the major species and controlling a few species (e.g. bracken). From a biodiversity perspective, it is better than before, and it looks more like heathland, but as one ecologist noted, it is often not very species-rich. Different to other landscapes where subjectivity is often a matter of intense debate, most experts who were interviewed for this book were candid about the reason for their protection being primarily related to cultural preferences and the sheer extent of these landscapes. Though a few argued that these landscapes were more biodiverse than the forests they would have replaced long ago, most accepted that they were not particularly species-rich. Nonetheless, they noted that there was a duty of care to conserve these landscapes under legislation, but we had failed to do that. As one ecologist said: The reason we’re hooked up on them in terms of conservation is that we believe in Britain, rightly or wrongly, that we should maintain the habitat we’ve got. Now, the trouble with that is, and this is where the nature conservationists failed miserably these first few years, is they thought, let’s designate a site and then walk away. Once it was designated, it was conserved. Suddenly you realise that the thing you’ve actually conserved it for was dying. It was going, it was dying

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This is, of course, the case with most ecosystems: just because they have a legal designation, this does not necessarily translate to protection. As with all cultural landscapes, they require a great deal of active management. Yet because of cultural severance and the loss of the socio-economic conditions that shaped these landscapes, conserving these systems means that governments must artificially create the socio-economic conditions that brought them into being in order to keep these sites actively managed. This means that conservationists or landholders are funded by the government, for example, through the countryside stewardship scheme, to mimic the processes of disturbance that created these systems in the first place. In a sense, cultural landscapes that exist in novel contexts are even more intensive to manage than novel ecosystems. Freezing heathlands and other landscapes in a particular stage of succession requires intensive ongoing management, and they are certainly not self-organising in the way that novel ecosystems typically are, unless we find ways to mend severed cultural ties. This preference for keeping humans on the land is entirely consistent with the approaches to ‘rewilding’1 that are emerging in the UK. While there has certainly been media attention paid to rewilding and other transformative opportunities in these cultural landscapes, the idea that the UK might consider a paradigm shift in these landscapes has not received much serious consideration by the government. There have been nods to the need to change, including the adoption of natural flood management policies and pledges to plant millions, or even billions, of trees. But these have been marginal, and the government’s preferred options for managing these landscapes is fundamentally unchanged. Even in the face of evidence that they will be further transformed by climate change, the political preference is still to maintain, restore, or create more of this habitat or foster the activities that create these habitats, rather than looking at other ways to enhance the resilience and biodiversity values of these landscapes (Natural England and RSPB 2019). These policy recommendations are essentially the same as those from 25  years ago  It is worth noting that rewilding projects are framed as harkening back to a time when nature was more intact; they, in fact, often produce novel or designed ecosystems, as they often need to use surrogate species (e.g. domestic cattle) or mimic certain dynamics (e.g. shooting deer to replace predator-prey interactions). 1

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(Thompson et  al. 1995). While they are sensible as cornerstones of biodiversity policy, the combined social, economic, and biophysical pressures on already stressed heathlands suggest more radical intervention may be required to bring landscapes back from the brink. What that might look like is a matter for public debate. Thinking back to the discussion about institutional change (Chap. 2) and the domains of change (Chap. 3), there are two key opportunities that have not been leveraged sufficiently in the UK. The first is the window (or perhaps windows) of opportunity that the country has to transform the way that it governs biodiversity. It has been 4 years since the vote to withdraw from the EU (Brexit), and a significant tranche of the funding for conserving cultural landscapes is funnelled through the EU, via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, particularly those for Rural Development, known as Pillar 2 payments. CAP payments are subsidies2 that, depending on how you classify them, represent more than half of the income that farmers get from agricultural activities or perhaps even more than they get from selling agricultural commodities (Milne and Braham 2016). Declining farm incomes, shrinking rural populations, and changes to payment schemes have long contributed to the changes in heathland management (Holden et al. 2007), and these drivers are only projected to intensify post-Brexit. The British uplands are expected to be particularly sensitive to any policy changes that might occur, given the fact that farm incomes are already so low, with potential for further abandonment in a post-Brexit world (Bunce et  al. 2018; Arnott et al. 2019). The scenario of abandonment and large-scale transformation in the wake of Brexit is certainly not in line with the government’s stated vision for the uplands (Mansfield 2019) or its vision for a ‘green Brexit’ (Defra 2018). The government has long expressed interest in developing a more environmentally friendly CAP scheme, but whether this will be realised post-Brexit remains to be seen. CAP payments have been among the most influential source of funding in shaping the management of heathland landscapes, and whatever policies and governance systems that are implemented post-Brexit will be just as influential for these landscapes.  Pillar 2 payments are not classed as subsidies by the UK government, hence the discrepancy.

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There is certainly a great deal of language about greening Britain, and environmental governance features heavily in the Environment Bill and related policy documents (c.f. Defra 2020). Although the government only has a brief window to implement a new domestic environmental governance regime to replace the gaps left by the removal of EU policy, progress on policy and governance reform has been slowed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that sent the country into lockdown in early 2020. The lockdown has led to promising reports about the return of nature (c.f. Rutz et al. 2020) and the reduction in carbon, perhaps bolstering the doom and gloom that characterised so much of the post-Brexit discussion. There is now talk of a green renewal and a green economy in the wake of the lockdown (Bailey 2020), but it is not yet clear whether the economic decline will lead to a worsening or a revival of the crises discussed in this book. In order to take advantage of this window of opportunity, a number of conditions will need to be met (Chap. 3), including the emergence of leadership with both the willingness and the means to shift the conversation, and the capacity to understand what is and is not working now (Domain 5). This leads to another theme in the interviews, indeed, the most common theme—the UK is at a crossroads, and there was the opportunity to turn the country into a base for experimentation and reform. At present, it is an untested idea, yet this suggestion of using the countryside as a laboratory for landscape-scale change has potential. Central to the idea is the fact that the UK is not a hotspot for biodiversity, but it could potentially provide a refuge for nature, particularly under a changing climate. Ironically, this opportunity for positive transformation is, in part, a result of the long-term transformation that has already occurred over millennia, with little intact biodiversity left.3 Given that most new species do not prove to be problematic (Chap. 4) and the UK has relatively few endemic species, it is a less-risky place for experimentation and new approaches than elsewhere on the planet. There is the potential that the UK could deliberately decide to become a refuge as the climate changes (Thomas 2017). This idea that the UK is a place where new species could  The UK is 29th from the bottom out of 218 countries assessed in terms of its ‘biodiversity intactness’ (Scholes and Biggs 2005; Hayhow et al. 2016). 3

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be introduced and new ecosystems could be created is, however, provocative, as it implies the necessity to let go of idealised notions of what British landscapes should look like—a near-existential threat on an island dominated by cultural landscapes. But choosing to do nothing is, of course, also a choice. Given that we are on track to exceed the target of keeping warming below 2 degrees C, one interviewee noted: That means that by mid-century, we’re actually going to be needing to move some of these things to stop them going extinct if we wish to, and if we don’t do that, we will effectively, collectively be making the de facto decision of humanity, that it’s not important enough for us to stop the extinction of these species. Because we know that there is a risk, and we are not doing the things that are required to save them. We won’t be able to stop an enhanced extinction rate, but we might be able to save a fraction of those species that would otherwise go extinct

This may seem a grim idea to those who love cultural landscapes, but, as noted previously, all cultural landscapes were at some point novel. Though it may be an uncomfortable transition, there is potential for new cultural landscapes to emerge that may, in fact, be more in keeping with the novel social, economic, and ecological conditions than those that are here now. The UK could, one interviewee noted, make a bigger contribution to biodiversity than it has over the past few centuries, by actually embracing transformation. This, of course, will require an open conversation between experts, decision-makers, landholders, and the general public; but if the time is not right now, then when? This points to a bigger issue that has not as yet been confronted: if there is resistance to change, then who is resisting, and whose baselines are we talking about? If the heathlands are changing, and if they are neither biodiverse to the point of demanding prioritisation in conservation; nor particularly important for providing ecosystem services that people value, then what is the barrier to change in policy and practice? It may be legislation, or it may be experts (Chap. 6). It is also very likely that it is a public mandate to keep these landscapes as they are. Legislative mandates to provide some degree of protection to the heathlands exist, but this is not the same as a democratic mandate, and there have only been marginal reforms to biodiversity policy in the UK. This gets to the heart of one of the ways in which

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deliberation and intentional reform of governance can be potentially transformative—in order to engender this process, we must move beyond assumptions and actually start asking people what they want these landscapes to look like. Despite public provocations and political pledges, there has been insufficient investment in understanding how the general public, and even the people who lived in these environments, perceive these landscapes and what they aspire for them to be. Most people who were interviewed admitted that the idea that heathlands needed to be protected was an assumption, rather than an empirical fact. Most people who were interviewed were pragmatic, noting that this was a conversation that needed to be had, despite them not being wedded to the outcome, for example, At the moment, the push is to have cultural because that’s what we’ve got. You go to the Lake District and you’ve got the upland grassy fields, created by grazing, that’s what people come to see. If that’s covered in trees, would there be that much real difference to the public? Some people would say yes, we like open fells. Others would say, we quite like trees. … that in itself is cultural

The speculation inherent in this quote gets to the heart of the matter: the idealised concept of the landscape will necessarily vary across users of the landscape, those who live in the landscape, and those who make the rules about what happens in the landscape (Chap. 6). We already know that those members of the public who recreate in heathlands do so not because they feel they are particularly special, but in part because they find them easily accessible from where they live (Hornigold, Lake, and Dolman 2016). The question of how similar or dissimilar these perceptions are to conservationists and policy makers, or, indeed, which stakeholders should have preference in the discussion, is, as yet, an open question. Returning to this idea of cultural ecosystems in novel contexts, even if they do not meet the definition of a ‘novel ecosystem’: if we cannot change the context, should we still mimic cultural activities to make these landscapes look like what they did in the past? From a governance perspective, there are deeper questions about whether or not this is legitimate or whether conservation bodies are accountable to the public, as there is no evidence that the public (a) prefer these ecosystems remain as heathland instead of forest or some other landscape, (b) accept that their taxes be directed towards this, or (c) whether they feel this is the best way

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to maintain these landscapes in the context of the immense social, economic, and environmental changes that the country is experiencing (Domain 2). There are many assumptions about what the British public wants, particularly in this time of transition. What does exist does not suggest there are strong preferences for them or views about how they should be managed, whether in the UK or in other contexts (Davies et al. 2016; Kiley et al. 2017). Most participants in this research felt that, if you asked the British public what they wanted from the landscape, it likely would not match ideas about what the landscape ‘should’ look like among British conservationists. Several of them acknowledged that the landscape felt a bit grim, a view that is echoed in the aforementioned Romantic writings. While there is speculation that this is because the public is urban and disconnected to their land—ideas that are implicit in the notion of cultural severance—the British public are fundamental to resolving these challenges and questions in a democratic context. From a governance perspective, it does not make sense to dismiss the majority of people who pay for British conservation and benefit from these landscapes, whether from recreation, drinking water, or from inherent values of nature. There is an argument to be made that current approaches undermine core principles of good governance and are based more on assumptions than on legitimate mandates (Chap. 3, Domain 2, Table 2), and these challenges are necessarily more complex in the Anthropocene because impacts and benefits reach well beyond local contexts, unlike when these heathlands were formed. Ignoring these challenges will ultimately undermine capacity to deal with transformative drivers of change (Domain 5), in part because the publics who pay have not been presented with genuine choices about what they want from their landscapes now and into the future. There is also strikingly little opportunity for the public to hold the government accountable despite the fact that urban publics largely pay for land management despite not being ‘connected’ to the countryside. In a democratic system of governance, is it fair to ask the populace to pay for a small number of people to manage cultural landscapes to which they are not particularly attached? For conservationists and enthusiasts of the heathlands, this is an uncomfortable prospect; thus, it may not be surprising that so few have sought to engage in genuine debate about these

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extensive landscapes. All of this suggests an as yet unrealised potential for transformed governance, in part because of a focus on what existed in the past and what feels timely in the present. Now is the time for debates that move beyond superficial public opinion to informed public judgement, based on information about what is to come.

Alvars in Estonia Estonia provides a very different social and ecological context from that of the UK, as a country whose culture is associated with rural and natural landscapes and concern for local environmental issues. It is a country with rich natural heritage, being known for having some of the most extensive natural areas in Europe. Over one-fifth of the country is covered in bogs and approximately half of the country is covered in forest, in contrast to the mere 13% tree cover in the UK. This case study, however, focuses on alvars, which are unique, species-rich, semi-natural grassland ecosystems that exist primarily in Sweden and Estonia. Estonia is home to one-third of the alvar grasslands in Europe, but these grasslands have faced significant challenges on account of abandonment and shifting agricultural practices over the past 80 years. This research focused in part on the LIFE to alvars project, a project to restore 2500 hectares of alvar grasslands in the West Estonian archipelago, which is one of the UNESCO biosphere reserves, noted earlier, and the only such reserve in Estonia. The research took place in 2018, near the end of the project, which ran between 2014 and 2019, and was led by the Environmental Board of Estonia and funded under the LIFE programme, the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action (LIFE to Alvars n.d.). The project was conceived on account of the fact that alvars are not only under pressure from changing land use and management driven by socio-economic and political factors, but are also under further stress from climate change. As a cultural landscape, there are both biodiversity and social objectives in the reserve:

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• Become a pilot area for a sustainable economy using the natural environment and natural resources; • Preserve biodiversity; • Preserve and showcase the islands’ cultural heritage; • Be a research, monitoring, and training centre that supports the green economy and active cooperation in achieving the objectives of the reserve (Jallon 2019) Alvars occur on thin, lime-rich soil or limestone bedrock. They have been formed over several centuries by hay production and grazing; however, the extent of the grasslands dramatically decreased following the Soviet occupation in World War II. Although the nature of the island had undergone a number of changes due to human settlement and agriculture over the previous millennia and centuries (Jallon 2019), it was during the 1940s that the alvars were abandoned due to the socio-economic and political shocks that changed the way people used the land. There is a great deal of literature on how the rise and fall of the Soviet Union led to transformations for biodiversity as well as for cultural landscapes in former Soviet Socialist republics, in part driven by shifts from state-based to market-based agriculture (c.f. IUCN 1996; Prishchepov et al. 2012; Mihók et al. 2017). The story of abandonment and decline of the alvars in Estonia is familiar in this respect. Nearly every interview and document that discusses the transformation of the alvars refers to the period of Soviet occupation, and how the policies enacted during that time had a profound impact on the Western Estonian islands, where these alvars are found. In addition to forced migration from the islands, the establishment of collective farming led to the disappearance of small farms. The thin soil means alvars are not very productive for intensive agriculture, so with the changes came abandonment and the loss of the traditional means of farming that maintained the alvars. The result was nothing short of a social and ecological transformation in this landscape. The extent of alvar grasslands fell from 43,000 to 8000 hectares and became more fragmented over that time period, with less than a third of these now actively managed (LIFE to Alvars n.d.; Helm et al. 2006; Photopoulos 2017). Those that are left have lost fewer species than expected, suggesting that there is still unpaid extinction debt

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that will lead to further losses if this is not taken seriously (Helm et al. 2006), and a closer look reveals reduced genetic diversity due to, in part, the fragmentation (Helm et al. 2009). Interviewees discussed how abandonment led the unmanaged remnants of these species-rich grasslands to become overgrown with juniper in the first successional stage, followed by Scots pine. This was caused, in part, by some areas being repurposed as pine plantations, although this was met with varying levels of success given the conditions. Interviewees noted that some of the areas restored for the project had 80–100% juniper cover, more than double of what would have been seen previously. The LIFE to alvars restoration has reportedly been a success on a number of different fronts. It more than doubled the area of managed alvars in Estonia. There have been increases in biodiversity in the restored alvars, and species thought to be new to Estonia have been identified. The restoration was completed faster than expected due to the mechanical methods used, which were adopted from Swedish alvar restoration practices. Another factor was that the seed bank in the alvars was still healthy, so all that was needed was to clear the areas for the native species to regrow. This is certainly not a given in grassland restoration projects, particularly in fragmented landscapes and those that have undergone transformation (Bakker and Berendse 1999). It may be that the scale of the project and increased connectivity helped landscape-scale dispersal of the plants (Aavik and Helm 2018). Given this success, it suggests the overgrown systems that replaced the alvars over the last 70–80 years are not novel ecosystems, as restoration of the grasslands was relatively straightforward in a technical sense. It is here where the importance of cultural severance and broader socio-economic trends come into play. The socio-economic dimension was central to this project, and this was supported by financial assistance to ensure a return to the land was viable. The project produced two reports on the socio-economic impacts, which found several promising results in terms of tourism and awareness of alvars, and it won a socio-­ economic impact award in 2018. Interviews in 2017 with 27 actors revealed a number of positive outcomes, including expansion of restoration expertise and opportunities for local business and an enhanced sense of identity and connection to the landscape, as it was returned to its more

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open state (Hog 2017). Ultimately, the project seems to have gone some way to addressing cultural severance, providing the opportunity to return to more traditional farming methods that maintain the alvars. Interviewees remarked on how it also attracted new farmers, who were drawn in by the prospect of a rural lifestyle where they could farm sustainably. Prior to the project, farming these areas was financially unviable, but the project brought down the barrier of initial investment. As one interviewee said: For example, if you rent 10 hectares of land from a private landowner, you will pay rent about EUR50. It’s average price, about EUR50 per hectare per year. But in order to receive the [EU] agri-environment subsidy for this land you need to spend, if it’s an overgrown area, an average EUR1700 to clear the area from the shrubs, which means if you receive EUR250 after for the management, it’s a really long time to earn this back. So, if somebody says, oh, we will pay for the shrub clearing, it’s a really huge thing for this farmer because it’s this investment is really high

The need to maintain subsidies was noted in the initial socio-economic analysis, as otherwise this form of farming was still seen as unprofitable. However, the economic impact on farmers was inconclusive due to a number of challenges in obtaining data (Jallon 2019). There are, however, a number of evident and potential future tensions. First, it is not clear whether the return to managing the alvars will be maintained now that the project is complete. So long as EU subsidies remain, it may be possible now that the land is cleared. Whilst nothing comparable to Brexit currently looms on Estonia’s political horizon, it is part of the EU and thus subject to many of similar drivers of change. For example, there is still the danger of decreased funding for conservation, particularly in light of the predicted global recession, exacerbated by Covid-19 lockdowns and other socio-economic changes in Europe. The project was not renewed, and if these landscapes are further impacted (e.g. by the removal of agricultural payments, reductions in tourism), it is quite possible that some of these grasslands will no longer be actively managed. The project has been successful, but it is still somewhat fragile, as the ultimate drivers of cultural severance have not disappeared. From the perspective of adaptive capacity (Domain 5), it would be wise to implement a number of other measures to build redundancy into the

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system, as well as mechanisms that allow conservationists to spot changes in management, biodiversity, and socio-economic conditions that compromise the sustained success of the project. How this will be done with current levels of resourcing is not clear. This might include additional incentives or policy tools (Domain 4). There was evident enthusiasm from interviewees and in the project documentation for seeking more opportunities to build a green economy around the alvars, including meat from the grasslands and marketing the island as a sustainable tourism destination. A second theme that emerged, particularly in interviews, relates to cultural ideas about what the landscapes on these islands should look like (Domain 2), which ultimately impact whether the alvars will continue to be maintained in their species-rich state. As noted previously, the idea of what landscapes should look like is subjective, and this does not always coincide with high biodiversity values. In the case of these alvars, it is perhaps a happy coincidence that what is rooted in cultural tradition is also high in biodiversity. Yet many studies of cultural landscapes find differences between perceptions of different generations. For an individual, conservation is often about keeping things as they were when you were young. While many older residents felt that the removal of shrubs and trees was returning the landscape to the way it should be, this was because it was still in living memory for some of them. For younger generations, dense vegetation was the ‘normal’ state of the island. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that there was no universal and immediate acceptance. Although the machinery and removal of trees and shrubs were seen as essential for effective and efficient restoration of the alvars, the idea of both can seem incongruous to those not familiar with such restorations. Not only was this viewed as disruptive and inconsistent with the character of the place for some residents (Jallon 2019), it was not always in line with perceptions of the landscape: The people who are older, they remember how it used to be old, it was grazed, there were more people on the island. But the younger generation, they like it how it is now. They can’t think what it will feel like, a small cottage next to the seaside and they want to have privacy, so everything is closed with the shrubs. So, it’s completely like the land use is completely

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different. The beauty for them is to have it closed, not to have it open. I don’t think it is very easy to change that idea at all

Another interviewee talked about how important being able to see out to the sea was for the older generation, as this was what the islands once looked like. But the younger people haven’t seen anything else but overgrown grasslands, junipers, and forests. They were actually very reluctant to agree with the restoration, and they, yes, they needed more kind of convincing. Some suggested that ideas were changing, but the socio-economic analysis was inconclusive in this regard. These issues also link to the good governance principles (Chap. 3, Table 2), as the restoration of landscapes also needs to consider issues of legitimacy and accountability to the younger generations who will hopefully be stewards of these landscapes. The idea of buffering (Domain 5) also draws attention to the need to manage some of these tensions and has a backup plan to weather some of the inevitable socio-economic and political tensions that will emerge. These are among the big picture issues that will need to be addressed to sustain the success of the project, particularly as the alvars face further social, economic, and ecological pressures. For a country that has been through many transitions, it is also common to hear concerns about a sort of silent decline. It is common for Estonians to speak about their connection to nature, and feel that things are okay in Estonia because the environmental issues were not as bad as elsewhere in Europe. But there are larger issues at play, including cultural severance, that could prevent the changes to environmental governance that are needed to prevent ecological transformation. The LIFE to alvars project is seen as a success, but there are still many other issues for biodiversity looming in the future, including the looming extinction debt as well as whether cultural norms, values, and assumptions (Domain 2) will be able to guard against further change. There was also speculation whether the broader Estonian public feels connected to alvars. One researcher discussed how they enjoy charismatic species and ‘mystical nature,’ but they drive around and see only green everywhere:

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so, they think everything should be fine, and most Estonians live in this constant knowledge that in Estonia everything is fine regarding nature. But we have also lost 95% of our grasslands and 99% of our wooded meadows

One of the few studies that have been done on Estonian landscape preferences would suggest a preference for farmed landscapes with cultivated fields, with forest in the distance (Alumäe 2006). This study suggested a preference for open landscapes and cues of human use in those landscapes. So, it is quite possible that the biodiversity values of alvars are not considered of particular relevance for the public. More broadly, there was a sense that while Estonians may understand that rare species are important, they may not be aware there is a potential transformation on the way: What they may not know is, we are on the verge of losing common species. And the really common species that make up the whole makings of what the nature is, and this is the threat that we are facing. And while we are focusing on the protected species, the landscapes as we know and the services as we should have them, the bio-diversity as we know it, it just collapsing as we speak. And this is why we need kind of a shift in conservation and how we approach it. We need conservation everywhere…. everything needs to be redesigned so that it supports the very matrix that holds this work together for us and for everybody else. But now we, while we are focused on specific elements of nature, we have turned out backs on even the common species

There was a sense that the constant shifting of baselines had become normal and seemed to be accepted by the general public. Yet the outcomes of this shift were also largely imperceptible, because so much of biodiversity loss is slow but steady, and thus flies under the radar of public perception. Despite these issues, however, there may yet be more opportunities for conservation in this case than in the British case study. Although the alvars are relative newcomers by comparison to heathlands, connections to these grasslands in Estonia have been severed much more recently. There are also opportunities to intentionally mend those connections, as preliminary evidence from the Life to alvar project suggests. For this to be truly transformative for Estonian conservation, however, there is a need

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to identify and confront wider social and economic issues, and use this success as scaffolding for further change. Just as in the UK example, however, many ideas about what ‘should’ be done to save these landscapes are grounded in part in assumptions about the importance of nature as part of the Estonian cultural identity. Cultural identity can be leveraged to achieve powerful governance transformations that affect both nature and people, either for better or for worse. Such identities are part of what transformed these landscapes in the first place. Yet, for these transformations to be legitimate, fair, and intentional, there will need to be engagement with values, rules, and knowledge and the relationships between all three. These have been identified as ‘deep leverage points’ for transforming governance, in terms of both designing systems and revisiting intent (Colloff et al. 2017). There are decision frameworks that allow explicit engagement with values in conservation and restoration (Backstrom et al. 2018), and these have the potential to reveal new objectives, alternatives, paradigms, and pathways. These will necessarily need to be context-­ dependent, whether in Estonia or elsewhere. However, there are insights from elsewhere about how several of these features—cultural identity, knowledge, values, and rules—can be leveraged to change governance, including the case of community-based governance of cultural landscapes in Japan.

Satoyama Landscapes in Japan The themes of changing governance, conserving biodiversity, and mending the gaps left by cultural severance are evident in one of Japan’s most treasured landscapes, satoyama. Like the other cultural landscapes discussed here, this a landscape with deep-rooted traditions that are thought to be central to Japanese identity.4 These landscapes are also internationally recognised for their dual contribution to biodiversity and human livelihoods through the Satoyama Initiative, established in 2010 under the auspices of the CBD (International Partnership for the  Satoyama is only briefly covered here for illustrative purposes. For a comprehensive account, please see the references in this section, but especially Takeuchi et al. (2012) and Indrawan et al. (2014). 4

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Satoyama Initiative 2019). The name derives from the Japanese words for home village (sato) and wooded hill or mountain (yama). As with many other cultural landscapes, satoyama has its roots in traditional agricultural practices that made the best of more marginal lands in a country characterised by sometimes difficult climatic conditions (e.g. typhoons, earthquakes, volcanos) (Takeuchi et al. 2012). The term is applied to the border zone between mountains and foothills and incorporates a number of different elements, including secondary woodlands, rice paddies, irrigation ponds and ditches, and pastures and grasslands (International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative 2019). These landscapes are often used as an exemplar of sustainability, offering not just high biodiversity value and support for human livelihoods but also a range of other ecosystem services, including protection from floods and the stabilisation of hillsides (Morimoto 2011; Takeuchi et  al. 2012). However, like so many other cultural landscapes, their decline tracks alongside changes following World War II. Many of these areas were abandoned, as fertilisers and fossil fuels made many of the natural resources used in these landscapes obsolete, and people increasingly moved to urban areas. Just as in the previous examples, this resulted in a loss of biodiversity as well as cultural values, as common ownership ceased and with it traditional management. Coppice woodlands became dense and overgrown and the plants that stabilised these areas disappeared, leading to soil erosion. Some areas were even cleared by the US military during the post-war occupation, or replaced with timber trees, the plantations of which were funded by government subsidies (Kijima et al. 2000). Impacted by these manifold changes, the satoyama became the ‘forgotten landscape of Japan’ (Takeuchi et al. 2012). In recent years, these landscapes have seen a revival, however, attracting a great deal of local and international attention and providing some insight into how new traditions can be built in old landscapes, but within our novel modern context of the Anthropocene. The revival has been attributed in part to the community-based governance and management of these areas. The Satoyama initiative includes community-based institutions, local knowledge of natural resources, and a number of other indicators relating to governance among its indicators. The involvement of local communities, including indigenous communities, in the

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management of secondary woodland satoyama landscapes, particularly in the urban-rural fringe, has been highly effective (Bolthouse 2013). The satoyama renaissance is thought to be driven by three factors: (1) cultural reappraisal of their value, (2) recognition that management would enhance biodiversity of these landscapes, and (3) an evident desire of a wide range of people to participate in their management (Bolthouse 2013). There are echoes in the literature on this landscape of the same ideas that were prevalent in the previous two cases, but especially in that of Estonia, as there is a great deal of discussion about how cultural values and ethics towards nature are key features of the perceived success of this revival (Morimoto 2011; Takeuchi et  al. 2012; Indrawan et  al. 2014; Shibata 2015; International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative 2019). It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what fuelled this revival, of course, given the complexities of teasing out causal forces in governance research (Chap. 1), but there is some suggestion that it was fuelled, in part, by shifting narratives. The shift from embracing the commons before the war, towards individualistic management afterwards, and finally back again to an embrace of collective management represent shifting narratives that influenced how these ecosystems were perceived, valued, and governed. This was partly fuelled by effective use of narratives (Domain 1), including the coining of the term satoyama by a forest ecologist in the 1960s, which became a metaphor for bringing villages and hillsides back together again, painting a picture of rural decay but also the idea that these places provided a place for people to rediscover their cultural identity in post-war Japan (Bolthouse 2013). Although a similar rebranding exercise might not have worked if the country had not experienced such transformative social and economic changes, there are clues as to the power of leveraging narratives at the right time and the right place that could inform context-­specific strategies elsewhere. The community-based forest management model is enthusiastically supported by many authors, but there are debates about how well these groups enhance the biodiversity values of these secondary woodlands. Since the 1990s, thousands of community groups have formed to manage satoyama, fuelled again, in part, by popular narratives, with the film My Neighbour Totoro thought to have special cultural cache. Volunteer groups have been comprised primarily of older retirees from urban areas who are attracted by the prospect of connecting with the landscape. They

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have again made these landscapes accessible to people again and revived traditional commons management in a reinvented form (Bolthouse 2013). Although it is quite common to see cultural landscapes attract those seeking a more rural lifestyle, the interesting feature in Japan is that that there has not been a return to communal ownership, but there has been a return to collective management of these areas. Most of what is said about the governance of satoyama is positive, and there is a tendency to emphasise the multiple benefits this governance system provides for people and biodiversity. However, there are some emerging critiques that are likely going to become more prominent as the initiative continues to gain prominence and the results are monitored. The most common of these is that these groups lack the skills and knowledge necessary to care for these landscapes, and that, while the revival has been good for culture, it is not as efficient or effective as expert individual management in terms of biodiversity outcomes (Kijima et al. 2000) or delivering on multiple ecosystem services (Indrawan et  al. 2014). In terms of social outcomes, there have also been suggestions that social drivers of change—migration, ageing, and globalisation—have undermined some of the initiative’s objectives for improving human well-being as well (Cetinkaya 2009). There are some emerging tensions between the desire to continue the community-based form of governance and needing to involve more experts to build a robust knowledge base and have a more strategic approach combined with more innovative thinking about what these landscapes might look like into the future (Indrawan et  al. 2014). As with all things in governance, it is clear that there is no panacea, and this likely applies to the age-old debate in governance about whether top-down or bottom-up governance is better. The literature on governance and transformation tends to favour the latter, and there is another body of work suggesting there is a need to ‘meet in the middle’ or work from the ‘middle out’. All of these have proven challenging in their own ways, so it is perhaps most sensible to return to the idea of fit: effective governance is likely to require a mixture of all three strategies, but these need to be at the right place and the right time.

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Lessons for Elsewhere The Satoyama Initiative is a wide-ranging network that reaches well beyond Japan, including the European cultural landscapes. As part of the network’s ongoing activities, there is a collation of case studies and data that look at institutional impediments and success factors for mainstreaming the concepts and approaches of these cultural landscapes into policy and decision-making (UNU-IAS and IGES (eds.) 2016). So far, the findings are similar to those already outlined in Chaps. 2 and 3 in relation to the institutional change literature, including the need to manage interplay dynamics (Chap. 2), integrate different knowledge systems, and buffer economic and political influences (Chap. 3). From this they have developed general principles that could be applicable to other cultural landscapes, particularly where they are seeking to address cultural severance whilst also delivering on biodiversity objectives and adapting to social and ecological changes. These are (UNU-IAS and IGES (eds.) 2016, pp. 7–9) as follows: • Integrate traditional and modern scientific knowledge to find appropriate solutions for the social, political, and economic context; • Translate, transcribe, and transform knowledge through inter- and transdisciplinary approaches; • Foster a participatory approach to create a shared vision and identify composite or interlinked goals addressing multiple objectives; • Foster collective efficacy, which is a shared believe in a group’s collective power to produce a desired outcome; • Build trust among stakeholders; • Identify relevant institutions and define roles; • Engage higher political systems and get feedback from those systems; • Encourage cross-learning among communities and other stakeholder for development of capacities and raise awareness; • Establish long-term monitoring and periodic review; and • Make sure replication efforts are flexible.

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Quite a lot of what the initiative has highlighted so far is that managing cultural landscapes in novel contexts requires robust knowledge from diverse sources and institutional conditions that allow solutions that are adapted to local conditions. The subject of knowledge, and particularly experts, in responding to social and ecological transformation is the subject of the next chapter.

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6 Climate Change, Conservation, and Expertise

The previous chapters have, in various ways, drawn attention to the influence of expert preferences on how decisions are made in conservation. Deeper questions on what ‘counts’ as biodiversity and what it means to restore and conserve it, as well as what landscapes are worthy of attention, are all influenced, in part, by expertise. Prominent discourses about novel ecosystems might paint a portrait of two different groups of experts sitting on opposite ends of a spectrum, either vehemently opposed to acceptance of novel ecosystems or resigned to their existence and enthusiastically penning plans for them. The reality is, of course, more complicated than that. Not only are human values and attitudes relating to ecosystems complex, but so too is knowledge about these ecosystems. In this chapter, biodiversity ‘experts’ primarily refer to natural and social scientists, practitioners, and other professionals who work in biodiversity conservation. The conservation community is thus incredibly diverse in terms of where people work and where they grew up, but also in terms of disciplinary backgrounds, focus, and experience. Professional, personal, and broader socio-cultural factors all influence perceptions. Even for experts, perceptions of ecological quality are deeply rooted in culture and tend to favour particular landscape features, including cues of human care (Nassauer © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_6

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1995). While humans tend to like the idea of wilderness, expressed preferences tend to indicate a preference for more order and signs of human intervention than is often found in more intact ecosystems. There are also varying cultural ideas about nativeness and exoticism, and ideas about historic fidelity equating to ecological integrity that can be difficult to shake (Manning et al. 2009). The sentimentality and nostalgia discussed in previous chapters is not always at the forefront of people’s minds when they think about conservation, but it is implicit in a great deal of conservation practice. However, these preferences are mediated in part by knowledge and experience. The way that experts perceive landscapes often diverges significantly from the ways in which the public views landscapes. They also differ in terms of how they perceive threats to biodiversity and the interventions they prefer (MacDonald et al. 2015). Perceptions of biodiversity stem from a complex interaction between values and knowledge. Ideas about what species belong to a place and which are problematic are linked to aesthetics and culture, but also knowledge about the risks species present to ecosystems, as well as whether those species are charismatic (Fischer and van der Wal 2007; Verbrugge et  al. 2013). It is valuable for both experts and the public to explore where there is convergence or divergence, in part so that we can understand if we are dealing with different values, different levels of knowledge, or something more nuanced. It is important to recognise that even conservation experts express views that are not always in line with scientific evidence (c.f. Gozlan et al. 2013). As discussed in Chap. 2, the notion of governance and policy operating a conveyor belt where scientific knowledge is translated into action neglects the complexities, even when the aim is for evidence-based policy. Perceptions are a critical piece of the scaffolding of governance, and they are not static, so can be a force for change. Experts are often unaware of how their views differ from lay people; however, it is common to see speculation about what the public wants or values. The novel ecosystems literature is no different, and it was common throughout the research for this book to see experts speculate on what the public wants or to assume that the public is resistant to change and wants a return to a particular baseline. It is also common to worry that the public will be too accepting of changes, even when these are not

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‘desirable’ for ecosystems (Chap. 4). However, it is important to bear in mind that we, as yet, know very little about what the public thinks of novel ecosystems. Though experts are an important source of knowledge in the domain of that expertise, they are often a dubious source of information about what the broader public wants (Kaplan and Kaplan 1989). Moreover, there are often differences between the way they view nature and the way the public does, not only in aesthetic preferences, but also in their perceptions of naturalness, views on landscape change, and whether ecosystems are thought to be healthy (Hunziker et  al. 2008; Howley 2011). Although public perceptions are starting to be taken more seriously as an explicit policy input, expert views still exert a stronger influence on decision-making, and policy-makers tend to rely on experts to understand how governance and policy need to be shaped in response to climate change (Swanwick 2009). Since expert preferences are so influential in how we intervene and how evidence is used, they are in themselves a factor in successful governance reform. There tends to be a great deal of focus on how the public and users of the landscape impact biodiversity, and how we can change their behaviours to improve ecosystem stewardship and slow key drivers of biodiversity loss (c.f. Gosling and Williams 2010; Schaffner et  al. 2015; Steg and Vlek 2009). Attitudes, beliefs, and norms are also important predictors of behaviour, and this applies to all actors involved in conservation, not just those whose hearts and minds we seek to change. Although it would be tempting to think that expert ideas about biodiversity conservation are based solely on evidence and not beliefs, the mere fact that there are such divergent views about what is worthy of conservation highlights the fundamental role of values in shaping practice (Backstrom et  al. 2018). Given the transformative conditions of the Anthropocene, it is worth asking the following question: Are experts keeping the conservative in conservation? I ask this from the perspective of an ‘expert’ with my own perceptions, informed by all of the complex factors noted earlier. Though governance is often seen as a barrier to progress (Chap. 2), it is worth reminding ourselves that we, too, might be partly to blame for the slow pace of change. Transformation is a two-way street, so whilst humans have created the Anthropocene, it is important to reflect on how it might need to change us (Clement 2019). It is also

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important to note that it is challenging to disentangle expert preferences from the expressed values and preferences of the institutions in which they work, so any study of experts should be interpreted with this in mind. Yet over the course of this research, it was clear that many experts were much more open than it would first seem, and there could be a whole host of reasons behind their apparent resistance to changing policy and practice. The preferences of experts in shaping biodiversity management decisions in the context of climate change are particularly important for informing objectives and logics of decision-making (Domain 3). This is because they flow through to the instruments and structures of governance (Domain 4), and adaptive capacity, particularly in relation to climate change (Domain 5). In examining this process, this chapter draws, in part, on a survey of 692 global experts on the topic of biodiversity conservation under a changing climate to explore how experts feel about unconventional options, including the management of novel ecosystems, setting up the global context before exploring these issues in more depth in Chap. 7. Critical examination of preferences can be uncomfortable because it is an admission that evidence is not translated into goals in ways that are value-free. Yet preferences can reveal important aspects of the decision context that either inhibit or facilitate adaptive capacity. One of the reasons that novel ecosystems and incorporation of new approaches in conservation are met with some resistance is because they conflict with prevailing rules, knowledge, and values. Future-oriented conservation thus requires effective knowledge governance (Wyborn et al. 2016). There is a benefit to making these implicit features of policy and practice more explicit as we revisit conservation objectives (Wallace 2012; Backstrom et  al. 2018). Yet social preferences operate independently of ecological change and can impede efforts to update conservation practice to reflect new challenges. Expert judgement is a critical source of information in prioritising conservation actions and deciding which options to pursue, particularly when empirical evidence about species and/or ecosystems is uncertain, lacking, or incomplete (Weimer 1998; Kiatkoski Kim et  al. 2016). Understanding the views of ecological researchers as they relate to climate change and management of biodiversity is thus an urgent priority

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for assembling a more comprehensive toolbox for biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene and deciding what to do about novel ecosystems. Such views will influence the uptake of new approaches to conservation and what options are deemed acceptable (or unacceptable) (Domain 4).

Conservation and Climate Change An underexplored element of the debate over novel ecosystems is how expert preferences influence their acceptance and management, and how conservation might better account for the changes we see in ecosystems now and into the future. This is particularly urgent as climate change is adding yet another pressure to already stressed ecosystems. Scant literature exists on this topic, however. The literature on landscape preferences and perceptions tend to include biodiversity or climate change as one factor, and they may engage with perceptions of non-native species. Few studies relate preferences to novel or transforming ecosystems, but what little empirical evidence that exists is provocative. There is some suggestion that ecologists are resistant to implementing non-traditional or ‘taboo’ management practices, even if they agree they are needed in theory to adapt to climate change and other drivers of biodiversity decline (Hagerman et al. 2010; Hagerman and Satterfield 2013, 2015). This section explores the interface between biodiversity, climate change, and novel ecosystems. Climate change is likely to become an increasingly important driver of ecosystem change, potentially increasing the extent of novel and hybrid ecosystems globally. Anthropogenic influences on the climate system are among the most distinctive and widely discussed features of the Anthropocene (Waters et al. 2016; Steffen et al. 2018). Climate change is expected to accelerate the loss of biodiversity and interact synergistically with other drivers of loss (e.g. habitat loss and degradation, altered biogeochemical regimes, urbanisation), generating positive feedback loops (Pimm et  al. 2014). It is normally considered an additional stress on already stressed systems (Steffen et  al. 2009), affecting how species respond to drivers of change (Seddon et al. 2016), and amplifying and

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accelerating already alarming rates of ecosystem change (Mace et  al. 2014). The projected effects of climate change on biodiversity are variable and alarming. Climate change is projected to be the fastest growing driver of biodiversity loss by 2050 (Marchal et al. 2011), and some models predict extinction rates that qualify as a mass extinction event (Bellard et al. 2012). How to manage such significant changes is still a topic of debate among experts, particularly because it is not independent from all of the other challenges and drivers and change that are already impacting ecosystems. Addressing causes of climate change requires coordinated global efforts, which may seem out of step with the local and regional scales at which most practitioners work; however, there is reason to be optimistic. As noted previously, climate change is an additional stressor on ecosystems. Proactive actions to reduce other stressors can be feasibly managed at local and regional scales and can make ecosystems more resilient to the pressures of climate change (Scheffer et al. 2015). To support this resilience and adapt to climate change, however, requires changing management, and it may mean adopting practices that were previously considered taboo, or at least out of bounds. That includes, potentially, intentional management of novel ecosystems or perhaps even facilitating the movement of species into new places. It also means thinking about what we should stop doing, which might include the ongoing, intensive investment of time and money in controlling non-native species that are not invasive (c.f. Cordell et al. 2016). There are also other, more controversial, options for removing stressors from ecosystems. For example, climate change can make it more challenging for species to live in their normal range.1 There is potential to make ecosystems more resilient by planting species outside of their native ranges, with the hope that these species, though non-native in their new context, will be more adapted to future climates (Miller and Bestelmeyer 2016). This was a common proposition in the Tasmanian Midlands case (Chap. 4), where landholders were particularly open to this idea because  As with earlier discussions, the idea of a ‘normal’ range depends on the timescale you are examining, with a palaeoecologist viewing ranges very differently to, say, a restoration ecologist working with a baseline that is a few hundred years old. This naturally leads to different ideas about what range shifts are normal. 1

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there had been widespread tree decline due to the drying climate and there was a need to stabilise the soil, which was often most effectively done with non-native species. This was not possible to do with government funding, however, because it is considered antithetical to statutory biodiversity objectives. However, most ecologists will be familiar with the horror stories of species introductions gone wrong, such as starlings or cane toads, where the intention is sometimes good (e.g. managing a pest species) but the consequence is a new pest in plague proportions. It is thus no surprise that one reason for the reluctance to embrace non-native species, even as a response to shifting climate envelopes, has been met with caution due to concerns about the risk of unintended consequences (Hagerman and Satterfield 2013). Other options for adapting conservation and restoration practice have attracted similar controversies about how to intervene, such as assisted migration (Webber et al. 2011). Also called assisted colonisation, this is viewed as a risky practice that may not realise the desired benefits (Burbidge et al. 2011), though experts are also posited to resist this for more value-based reasons, including ‘an aversion to the hubris of managing nature’ (Hagerman and Satterfield 2013, p. 555). This is often discussed with reference to charismatic or highly valued species, as well as in highly fragmented landscapes or where there are isolated populations of species with little genetic diversity. It is also common in alpine environments where species are already living at the margins of their geographic range (Hewitt et al. 2011; Gentili et al. 2015; Holmes 2015). These are among the many options for introducing novel elements into landscape as a means of climate adaptation, even if they do not necessarily lead to novel ecosystems per se. Given the manifold uncertainties about actions and their consequences, it is no surprise that adapting conservation policy and practice to confront climate change is a vexing issue with no single path forward. The scope, magnitude, and uncertainty associated with projections of ecological change in response to a changing climate have made this a particularly complex challenge for governance (Wyborn et  al. 2016). Models for how species will move often point in different directions depending on the assumptions used in the models, and communicating uncertainty to decision-makers who want a clear answer is an enormous challenge for ecologists (Gould et al. 2014). Beyond uncertainty, there

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are still many unknowns about biodiversity, ecosystems, the dynamics of change and stability, and other areas of science that inform conservation, and that is before climate change and multiple interacting drivers of biodiversity loss are factored into the equation. There are perhaps hundreds of options available for how we might adapt management to more effectively conserve biodiversity in a changing climate. One review found 524 recommendations falling into 113 categories, most of which were general principles rather than actionable steps and not well integrated with knowledge from the social sciences (Heller and Zavaleta 2009). Many more recommendations have emerged since, and this includes a number of useful frameworks for integrating novel ecosystems into conservation practice (c.f. Backstrom et  al. 2018; Hulvey et  al. 2013; Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014; Perring et  al. 2013). Explicitly recognising and intentionally managing novel ecosystems is just one aspect, however, and there are a number of other ‘non-traditional options’ that can be controversial, as discussed in the following text.

 xpert Perceptions on Managing Biodiversity E in a Changing Climate Research on how experts perceive risks of climate change to ecosystems and their capacity to manage those risks can also be informative for understanding whether they are likely to promote more traditional or non-traditional (even ‘taboo’) management and policy responses. Examples of conventional actions are expanding networks of reserves and their connectivity and non-traditional examples are assisted migration and managing for novel ecosystems. Investigations so far in this area suggest experts are inherently conservative, preferring conventional actions despite acknowledging the need for change (Hagerman et  al. 2010; Hagerman and Satterfield 2013, 2015). This may not be surprising, given the debates outlined in the previous chapters about the Anthropocene and novel ecosystems. If experts are indeed keeping the conservative in conservation, there are likely a number of reasons for this, including tensions between the cognitive frames and decision logics normally used by experts and the increasingly complex, uncertain, and variable conditions

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found in the Anthropocene. Such tensions may partially explain inconsistences in the research so far, which reports fairly widespread (though not universal) agreement among experts about the need to seriously consider the use of non-traditional options, but there is, however, continued preference for conventional approaches for management of climate change impacts. The degree of apparent conservativism varies depending on core values (Rudd 2011) and is thought to be based on: (1) what is thought to be most effective, least risky, and best understood, (2) informed by pro-environmental worldviews and positive affective and value-based judgements around conventional actions, (3) informed by trust in biodiversity governance, and (4) driven by demographic factors such as gender (Hagerman and Satterfield 2013). In short, it is a mix of caution in the face of uncertainty, as well as cultural, cognitive, and value-­based factors. While it is evident there is widespread agreement that changes to the Earth System are widespread and urgent, as well as agreement that current approaches are failing, there seems to be less agreement about what needs to be done, particularly as it relates to non-traditional options. There have been a few studies exploring experts’ perceptions of risks to ecosystems posed by climate change and plausible options for ameliorating this risk. One was a survey of both the lay public and ecologists, eliciting opinions on the risks to ecosystems posed by climate change and other stressors, including land use and habitat alteration, fragmentation, degradation or pollution of natural systems, ozone depletion, and species extinction (Lazo et al. 2000). The authors found ecologists perceived climate change as less avoidable and more acceptable than risks from other causes, and that it presented a slightly lower risk to ecosystems than these other causes. Experts also viewed climate change as ‘less understandable’ than non-climate-related risks to ecosystems (Lazo et al. 2000). However, the number of experts surveyed was small (n = 26) and consisted only of American academics and US Environmental Protection Agency scientists. A similar study using a small sample of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts found similar results (Slimak and Dietz 2006). While it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from these limited data, this research highlights the importance of considering how experts understand and rank climate change risk in relation to other drivers.

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Although this chapter focuses on climate change, it is considered alongside the range of drivers of biodiversity loss, which is essential because it is difficult to tease out the effects of climate change from the many other drivers of environmental change (Tylianakis et  al. 2008; Avolio et al. 2015). A global expert elicitation survey of threats to marine ecosystems found experts thought the largest-scale threats were climate-­ change-­based threats, species invasion, and hypoxia (Halpern et al. 2007). Views may vary regionally, and based on whether the specific focus is on ecosystems or on biodiversity. For example, another study eliciting expert views in relation to changes in Mediterranean ecosystems ranked climate change below pollution, habitat degradation, and exploitation (Coll et al. 2010). In a survey of 160 experts, climate change was ranked the fourth most important driver of ecosystem change behind habitat loss and degradation, industrial-scale harvesting, and urban expansion (Hagerman and Satterfield 2015). Almost half of respondents thought climate change would have only moderate to low intensity impact on species and ecosystems. This same research also revealed emerging agreement on a number of contentious issues, acknowledging that some species loss will be inevitable and the shifting relevance of historical baselines, albeit whilst suggesting that preferences for interventions still remain wedded to traditional options, for example, reducing non-climate stressors and expanding protected areas. This reinforces previous research, which has suggested gradual shifts in willingness to at least consider more controversial options, for example, triage-like assessments, redefining success, and examining the role of disturbance in facilitating species transitions (Hagerman et al. 2010). Similar themes emerged in a survey of 583 experts that examined values relating to 32 statements and tested levels of agreement on 17 potentially controversial statements about conservation strategies (Rudd 2011). Taken together, these studies suggest experts may be open to new approaches to biodiversity management to adapt to climate change, although there is clearly discomfort and a plurality of views among experts about what is (and is not) acceptable practice in biodiversity conservation.

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Global Survey of Conservation Experts Managing ecosystems in the Anthropocene requires not just innovative ideas that are scientifically sound but also approaches that are socially acceptable. What is preferable has, and will continue to, change over time, but it is important not to guess but to rigorously test. It is only with such testing that we can begin to assess the feasibility of unconventional approaches in terms of both their benefit to biodiversity conservation and social acceptability. To build on this previous work and investigate the issues around novel ecosystems and other ‘taboo’ options, I worked with two ecologists, Associate Professor Rachel Standish (Murdoch University, Australia) and Professor Patricia Kennedy (Oregon State University, USA), to develop a questionnaire and survey global experts. It shared a number of questions with a previous survey instrument (Hagerman and Satterfield 2015, Appendix B), but sought to address previous methodological issues and investigate issues around ecosystem change and novel ecosystem in more depth to understand whether it was really true that experts were averse to implementing unconventional approaches in their work. The following section is only a brief snapshot of these findings, as they specifically relate to novel ecosystems.

Geography and Experience While the capacity to ask about context is limited in a global survey, participants were asked to link most questions to the geographic regions in which they work. The geographic contexts in which experts work were thought to affect their interpretations of risk and uncertainty, especially in relation to climate change (Sunstein 2006). The importance of place and place attachment is also thought to influence preferences of how to manage landscapes, as well as personal experiences of climate change, ecosystem change, and the risks associated with both (Akerlof et  al. 2013), and the rate and impacts of climate change are unevenly distributed across the world (Ackerly et al. 2010). The motivations for biodiversity conservation, the preferences for specific goals nested within the overarching goal of biodiversity conservation, and the ways of achieving

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these are likely to differ greatly among regions (Clewell and Aronson 2013). Based on the previous chapter, it may also be that experts who conserve biodiversity within cultural landscapes could be more willing to consider non-traditional conservation goals (Foster and Motzkin 1998; Hobbs et al. 2013b). Where geography revealed interesting or important differences in this particular survey is weaved into the results. In many cases, it did not make a significant difference, perhaps, in part, because of the pervasiveness of climate change and similar drivers of biodiversity loss in an increasingly globalised world, but free-text responses also reinforced the idea that their preferences would likely shift depending on context and specific local factors (e.g. objectives, feasibility, etc.). Previous research has had a strong bias towards experts in North America, so we sought a much more geographically diverse sample (Table 6.1). The sample had a high level of expertise across several metrics. Of the 692 respondents, nearly 80% had a doctorate, most (88%) Table 6.1  Summary of survey participants Geographic focus

Years of experience

Europe

42% 20 years

Africa

5%

Other/invalid response

Other

2%

11% 10–15 years

10% 15–20 years

Identified expertise

10.3% Ecosystem ecologist 21.4% Animal ecologist 15.5% Other

16.8% Plant ecologist 34.4% Animal and plant ecologist 1.7% Social scientist Decision-­ maker or policy expert

Ecosystem focusa 31.6% Terrestrial

78%

19.1% Freshwater 30.5% aquatic 17.9% Urban 26.3%

13.3% Coastal

23.8%

8.5%

Marine

17.3%

6.4%

Other

7.5%

3.2%

Adds up to >100% because participants could choose more than one option

a

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had over 5 years’ experience, and over a third had more than 20 years’ experience. There was a good range of different types of ecologists. Participants were allowed to select more than one environment in which they worked, and more than three quarters work in terrestrial environments. Given that biodiversity has a bias towards terrestrial environments (Martin et  al. 2012), this is not surprising. Over 80% identified as researchers or scientists, but unfortunately, we did not ask where they worked, so many of these could be embedded in government organisations.

Current Situation Climate change was among the top drivers of biodiversity decline identified by experts, but similar to previous work, it was not the most dominant concern (Fig. 6.1). Habitat loss and degradation is seen as the most dominant driver, which is logical and indeed consistent with most global assessments (Sala et al. 2000; Marchal et al. 2011). What is interesting, Current Intensity of Impacts on Biodiversity

100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Habitat loss and degradation

Industrialscale harvesting

Urban expansion

Don’t know

Industrial pollution

No Impact

Fig. 6.1  Current intensity of impacts

Agricultural Altered Invasive production biogeochemical species and expansion cycles

Low

Moderate

High

Very High

Climate Change

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however, is that climate change was ranked second, which is higher than in previous studies, potentially suggesting increasing concern with the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Previous work had suggested biodiversity experts worried that efforts to confront climate change distracted from efforts to address more important drivers of biodiversity loss. Here, less than 30% of respondents felt that way, and nearly two-­ thirds (64%) felt that efforts to adapt to climate change impacts will help mitigate other drivers of ecological change (e.g. habitat loss). It is worth bearing in mind that about two-thirds of respondents indicated they specialised in habitat loss and degradation and/or climate change. It would not be surprising, then, that they would see these both as major drivers of biodiversity loss that should be addressed in tandem. Experts who worked in Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, Africa, and North America seemed most concerned about the impact of climate change on biodiversity. There were only minor differences in what drivers were of most concern, depending on whether respondents worked in terrestrial, aquatic, marine, or coastal environments, consistent with what one would expect. For example, marine experts were slightly more concerned about climate change and industrial-scale harvesting of resources (e.g. overfishing) than terrestrial experts. Experts were then asked about how effective they thought current approaches to managing each of these impacts were. The results suggested that current practices to combat habitat loss were only slightly or moderately effective for habitat loss and degradation—the most intense driver of biodiversity loss (Table 6.2). Of perhaps even greater concern—and quite important for interpreting the results of the rest of the survey—was that over half of the experts felt that current approaches for managing climate change were not at all effective. Even the ‘tried and true’ traditional approaches did not receive particularly high praise. It was also thought to have high or very high impacts across all ecological patterns and processes (Fig. 6.2). These numbers should be kept in mind in light of the results in the next section.

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Table 6.2  Effectiveness of current approaches in addressing the top 3 most intense drivers of biodiversity loss Habitat loss and degradation (%) Negative effect (i.e. make 3.2 problems worse) Not at all effective 18.9 Slightly effective 40.7 Moderately effective 28.3 Very effective 3.9 Don’t know 4.4 Not applicable 0.6

Climate change (%)

Agricultural production and expansion (%)

6.3

4.5

52.1 23.6 5.9 2.2 7.5 2.5

21.6 36.2 18.8 2.8 9.3 6.7

Changing Management Practice Although there is still a great deal of focus on traditional approaches that seek to conserve intact ecosystems, there is increasing recognition of the need to pursue interventionist approaches that rely on active management and restoration (Allan et al. 2017). Rather than focusing solely on novel ecosystems or other non-traditional options, however, we sought to understand in the survey how they might be viewed alongside conventional approaches to biodiversity conservation, particularly because this complementary approach is precisely what is most prevalent in the novel ecosystems literature (Hobbs et al. 2014). Although there is concern that novel, hybrid, and even ‘designer’ ecosystems will displace or distract from conservation, which is already poorly funded, the rebuttal is that it is not a case of either/or. Even in these anthropogenic ecosystems, there are still opportunities to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecological processes (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b). Even in the Anthropocene, it is likely that the core of conservation will remain focused on conserving native biodiversity and preventing further loss, but ‘climate-ready conservation’ (Dunlop et al. 2013) will require new objectives as well as actions that may push experts and policymakers outside their comfort zone. In this survey, the experts were asked how likely they were to support the use of the following management activities to deal with climate change:

Spatial Spatial Seasonal distributions distributions distributions of species of vasive of species species Low

Fire dynamics

No Impact

Hydrologic dynamics

Moderate

Insect dynamics

High

Disease dynamics

Very high

Don’t Know

Interactions Interspecies Predatorbetween competition prey dynamics mutualistic species

Impact of Climate Change on Ecological Patterns and Processes

Fig. 6.2  Perceived impact of climate change on ecological patterns and processes

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Food webs

Nutrient cycling

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• • • • • • •

Relocating native species; Introducing non-native species that are more likely to survive; Deliberately managing for ‘novel’ ecosystems; Modifying baselines used for monitoring and restoration; Managing for alternative ecological outcomes; Managing primarily for human values; Prioritising certain species and ecosystems, even it means others cannot be ‘saved’ (triage); and • Legal and policy reforms that allow dynamic objectives or flexible targets. As shown in Fig. 6.3, the most contentious options were deliberately introducing non-native species or managing primarily for human values, whilst the most widely accepted was allowing for alternative ecological outcomes (Domain 3) and reforming law and policy to enable a more dynamic and flexible approach (Domain 4). Over half of the experts were willing to consider triage (56%) and modifying baselines used for 100% 90%

Likelihood of Support for Biodiversity Managment to Deal with Climate Change 33 122

34

75 151

124

101 167

123

80%

277

70% 60%

97

215 169

272

304

50%

222

151 247

40% 30% 20%

208

111 125 140 121

194

10% 0%

288

268

50 7

10

124 73

72 24

133

32 31

51 11 24

136 10

109 32 18

Introduce Novel Modifying Alternative Manage Triage Relocating non-native Ecosystems baselines ecological primarily for native species outcomes human values species Don’t know Not at all likely Somewhat unlikely Neutral Somewhat likely

74 28 16 38

Dynamic objectives & flexible targets Very likely

Fig. 6.3  Likelihood of supporting the use of non-traditional management options

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monitoring and restoration (61%), but only 42% viewed management of novel ecosystems favourably. Yet nearly 70% would be somewhat or very likely to manage for alternative ecological outcomes, which could certainly be in line with novel ecosystems. This hints at several issues that have already been discussed, including the idea that novel ecosystems may be embraced when they are not framed as such (Chap. 4). There was support for the idea of modifying baselines in this question, although it is worth noting that there was still a high level of support for using historical baselines (see Fig. 6.5). There was little difference between experts’ willingness to modify baselines used for monitoring and restoration, which is interesting in light of the discussions in the novel ecosystems and cultural landscapes literature (Chaps. 4 and 5). Given the perception that novel ecosystems are a going concern primarily in the New World (Chap. 4), it is interesting to note that there was greater resistance in South America than in Europe, and over half of the experts who work in Africa in this sample were somewhat or very likely to manage for novel ecosystems (Table 6.3). It is worth noting the European experts were slightly less willing to support introduction of non-native species that would be more climate resilient than some other areas like Australia (Table 6.4), which has more Table 6.3  Likelihood of supporting management of novel ecosystems by geographic focus of respondent Geographic focus Australia and/or North Central South New America America America Africa Europe Asia Zealand Antarctica Likelihood (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Not at all likely Somewhat unlikely Neutral Somewhat likely Very likely Don’t know No answer

10

0

20

11

12

2

1

40

18

31

23

16

23

14

13

20

17 41

23 23

18 27

16 39

25 25

30 35

21 40

40 0

10 2

23 0

8 3

11 5

9 4

12 4

18 5

0 0

2

0

2

3

2

4

3

0

a

23 8 46 15 0 8 0

24 30

14 23

6 0 2

Central America (%)

2 5 2

8 9

35 41

8 3 0

18 21

32 18

South America Africaa (%) (%)

4 1 1

13 17

30 34

Europe (%)

7 2 5

11 19

23 33

Asia (%)

5 1 1

18 21

23 31

0 0 0

0 0

80 20

Australia and/ or New Antarctica Zealanda (%) (%)

Regions where experts expressed the strongest concerns about the impact of climate change on biodiversity

Not at all likely Somewhat unlikely Neutral Somewhat likely Very likely Don’t know No answer

Likelihood

North Americaa (%)

Geographic focus

Table 6.4  Likelihood to support introduction of non-native species that are more likely to survive in a changing climate by geographic focus

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extensive intact ecosystems and stricter policy prescriptions around what species should be in ecosystems (Chap. 4). This could potentially be because climate envelopes have already shifted so significantly in Australia, so there was more pragmatism around this approach. However, whilst a higher proportion of Australian respondents thought climate was having a high or very high impact on biodiversity (80% of respondents) than in Europe (60%), this only translated to marginally more enthusiasm for non-traditional options on a few questions.

Managing for What Values? Respondents were asked to consider not just ecological goals and values but also social ones. A key theme in both biodiversity and climate change literatures is that we will struggle to meet our current ecological objectives, even more than we already are. While managing novel ecosystems or intervening to create more climate-resilient ecosystems may not necessarily align with current law, policy, and practice, enhancing the resilience of ecosystems into the future will require a mix of traditional ecological goals alongside more creative management interventions that respond to societal aspirations and can thrive in new socio-economic contexts (Palmer and Ruhl 2015). Earlier work had not asked so explicitly about social goals. Additionally, while the importance of social, rather than purely ecological, benefits of conservation actions have been widely acknowledged for some time (Grumbine 1994; Higgs 1997; Davis and Slobodkin 2004; Hobbs 2007), explicit integration of social aspects and diverse stakeholders has been slow and geographically variable (Buch and Dixon 2009; Hallett et  al. 2013; Petty et  al. 2015). Social dimensions are slowly making their way into restoration guidance as well as into ecological restoration research. They are now in international and national restoration guidelines for best practice. The most recent international guidance devotes the first principle of ecological restoration to the engagement of stakeholders, referencing the importance of social and wellbeing goals. `This version even has a ‘social benefits wheel’ to convey social benefits of a restoration project (Gann et al. 2019). Much restoration guidance still remains focused on informing or consulting stakeholders to bring them on side with the project or targeting audiences whose behaviour they

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want to change (CMP 2020). While this progress is promising, integrating social objectives alongside those of biodiversity is still rare. The guidance tends to be similar to any other form of generic planning guidance. For example, it provides basic information about the need to include key stakeholders and how to consult them, but there is as yet limited advice on collaborative governance or more empowering forms of engagement. In the context of the powerful social drivers evident in the Anthropocene and the widely agreed need to consider new conservation objectives, metrics of success, and the modification of baselines, more will need to be done to ensure that such changes are legitimate, fair, and effective. There has been some concern that conservation does not practise what it preaches as well. As mentioned previously, managing primarily for human values as a means of adapting to a change climate received very little support among the experts surveyed. Less than one-quarter said that they were likely or somewhat likely to support the idea (Fig. 6.3). There was some geographic variability, with no respondents from Central America or Australia and New Zealand having chosen ‘very likely’ (Table 6.5). Given the prevalence of highly modified landscapes such as novel ecosystems and the emerging rhetoric around the importance of social values, it would be worthwhile to investigate the source of this resistance. In particular, deeper investigation of framing and narratives amongst conservation experts (Domain 1), and the culture, norms, and assumptions that surround conservation research and practice (Domain 2), could provide valuable insights. However, it is not as though they did not acknowledge the importance of the social dimensions of ecosystems. Experts were also asked which goals were important to them personally. While experts perhaps predictably said protecting rare species, species at risk, and ecological processes were most important, it is interesting to note that experts do seem to value a number of primarily human values (Fig.  6.4). They attached a high level of importance to protecting sustainable livelihoods, and the vast majority also felt that economically and culturally significant species were moderately, or very, important. The high level of importance attached to ecological processes in particular and these more human-­ oriented values suggest there is perhaps more room to develop complementary goals.

Not at all likely Somewhat unlikely Neutral Somewhat likely Very likely Don’t know No answer

30.77

15.38

38.46 15.38

0.00 0.00 0.00

32.80

16.80 20.00

4.80 0.00 2.40

6.06 3.03 3.03

28.79 28.79

21.21

9.09

Central South America America (%) (%)

23.20

North America (%)

7.89 2.63 2.63

26.32 23.68

28.95

7.89

Africa (%)

4.84 1.73 1.04

22.84 14.53

34.95

20.07

8.77 3.51 3.51

29.82 22.81

10.53

21.05

Europe (%) Asia (%)

0.00 0.00 1.28

29.49 14.10

30.77

24.36

Australia and/or New Zealand (%)

0.00 0.00 0.00

20.00 0.00

60.00

20.00

Antarctica (%)

Table 6.5  Likelihood of supporting primarily social goals in managing biodiversity in a changing climate

Other (%)

0.00 0.00 0.00

28.57 14.29

35.71

21.43

208  S. Clement

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6  Climate Change, Conservation, and Expertise  Importance of Conservation Goals for Respondents Geophysical features Sustainable livelihoods Wilderness areas Specific ecosystems Ecological processes Economically Sig Species Culturally Sig Species Species at Risk Rare Species 0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

Not at all important

Slightly important

Neutral

Moderately important

Very important

Undecided/ don’t know

100%

Fig. 6.4  Personal importance of conservation goals for respondents

Management Now and into the Future Experts were asked to differentiate between interventions now and into the future, when climate impacts are likely to intensify, and one would also hope that the impacts and effectiveness of options will be clearer. Experts were asked for their level of agreement with the following statements, both now and into the future (30–40 years from now): • Given the intensity of climate change impacts in my region, the use of historical baselines as guides to conservation and restoration targets is less ecologically relevant. • Given the intensity of climate change impacts in my region, the role of non-native species in conservation and restoration needs to be reconsidered. • In my region, the current metrics of success (e.g. the persistence of specific species or ecosystem types in specific places) need to be revised due to climate change. • In my region, decision guidelines for prioritising investments in particular species and ecosystems will need to be revised in consideration of climate change. For example, priority might be given instead to ecosystem function or service. (Named ‘decision logics’ in the figure.) • In my region, even the best-informed active management strategies will not be able to retain some species.

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Retaining species

Present Future

Decision logic

Present Future

Historical Non-native Metrics baselines species of succes

CHANGING MANAGEMENT APPROACHES

Present Future

Present Future Present Future

0%

10%

20%

Strongly Disagree

30% Disagree

40%

50% Neutral

60% Agree

70%

80%

90%

100%

Strongly Agree

Fig. 6.5  Agreement with statements about management now and into the future

As shown in Fig. 6.5, there was strongest agreement with the idea that active management strategies would not be able to retain some species. This was consistent with an earlier question, where only 12% of respondents felt that adaptive management strategies (i.e. managing ecological systems through a structured and iterative process of learning by doing) would be sufficient to protect biodiversity and ecosystems under a changing climate. This reinforces the concerns about uncertainty and lack of effectiveness (Table 6.2), suggesting even the best-laid plans may not be enough to confront the challenges of climate change. There is research to suggest ecologists may be more supportive of ‘cautiously aggressive’ policy and tend to call for more research to reduce uncertainties. Ecologists may be more likely to support responses to more immediate challenges and those for which the data were clearer (Lazo et al. 2000; MacDonald et al. 2015). Indeed, a recurring theme in the responses to the survey was about knowledge and uncertainty that can usefully inform management. When asked about the constraints to adaptation, it was clear that there were a number of limiting and extremely

211

6  Climate Change, Conservation, and Expertise  Table 6.6  Information-related constraints to adaptation

Lack of biophysical information at relevant spatial scales Lack of ecological impacts information for my system of interest Lack of information regarding synergistic impacts of climate change with other drivers of change Scientific uncertainties relating to potential ecological impacts of adaptation actions

Extremely limiting (%)

No effect/ Limiting Somewhat Irrelevant (%) limiting (%) (%)

Don’t know (%)

17

35

35

7

7

26

43

24

4

2

38

40

17

3

2

25

43

26

4

3

limiting factors relating to knowledge (Table 6.6). This was particularly the case with climate change, where lack of information regarding synergistic impacts of climate change with other drivers of change was thought to be a limiting or extremely limiting factor among 78% of experts. Governance proved to be just as limiting, with conflicting objectives of agencies and stakeholders viewed as limiting or extremely limiting by 77% of experts. This may also provide insight into the discomfort to fully embrace human values as a primary objective, based on previous experience with conflicting interests. Managing conflicting interests and objectives is a common and enduring feature of conservation (Gerber et al. 2011; Robinson 2012; Junker et al. 2015), and it is why managing interplay dynamics is so central to fit-for-purpose governance (Chap. 2). Political, regulatory, and legal uncertainties relating to the potential implementation of adaptation strategies (74%) and lack of institutional support (74%) were similarly seen as constraints to adapting biodiversity management in the context of climate change (Table 6.7).

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Table 6.7  Governance constraints to adaptation

Political, regulatory, and legal uncertainties relating to the potential implementation of adaptation strategies Difficulties deciding what to manage for Public perceptions and/ or cultural values associated with species or ecosystems Conflicting objectives of agencies and stakeholders Lack of institutional support Restrictive federal and state/provincial legislation that does not allow implementation of adaptation strategies Restrictive agency mandate that does not allow implementation of adaptation strategies Too busy with other work priorities

Extremely limiting (%)

Somewhat Limiting limiting (%) (%)

No effect/ Irrelevant (%)

Don’t know (%)

35

39

16

4

5

21

36

31

9

4

21

36

30

10

3

43

33

16

3

4

42

32

17

5

4

27

26

21

15

11

25

27

21

13

13

18

30

27

14

11

In terms of what considerations are influential on conservation decisions where these experts work, a similar mix of technical and socio-­ economic considerations was deemed influential (Fig.  6.6). Financial considerations were unsurprisingly at top of the list, with available resources and economic conditions thought to be moderately or strongly influential by 90% of respondents. Technical feasibility of the project was next, with 83% of respondents saying it was moderately or strongly

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LEVEL OF INFLUENCE ON A TYPICAL CONSERVATION PROJECT 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Biophysical data

Model predictions

Technical feasibility

Social values

Public opinion

Traditional knowledge

Economic conditions

Not at all influential

Slightly influential

Moderately influential

Strongly influential

Too variable to say

Don’t know

Available resources

Fig. 6.6  Considerations and level of influence on a typical conservation project

influential, but social dimensions were not far behind, with social values and public opinion deemed moderately or strongly influential by 79% and 74%, respectively. Given earlier discussions about the link between biodiversity and culture and the rise of the literature on biocultural conservation, it is perhaps concerning that so few respondents felt traditional knowledge was strongly (16%) or moderately (29%) influential. This is likely to be linked at least in part to the landscapes where respondents worked, but this merits additional attention, particularly in light of the knowledge governance discussion in the following section.

Thoughts for the Future Of the nearly 700 experts surveyed in this research, most were relatively open to the prospects of incorporating non-traditional or even ‘taboo’ options into conservation. It is likely that these options will become increasingly less taboo as climate change impacts become more apparent, and as existing approaches, which most participants did not think were particularly effective, struggle to keep up with the pace and intensity of

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change. It is evident that climate change is considered a serious threat to already stressed ecosystems, and there are concerns about our state of knowledge over how climate change interacts with other drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline. Experts are concerned about many uncertainties relating to knowledge as well as social and institutional factors. There was evident concern about some issues such as planting non-­ native species and managing for novel ecosystems or primarily human values. This should be viewed in light of potential concern about unintended consequences and the respondents’ less than enthusiastic opinion of how effective approaches are now. There may also be issues with agency, wherein experts acknowledge that ecosystems have been changed by humans but intentionally shaping them for human values or to include novel elements brings in a different sense of responsibility for their actions. There were quite positive responses to the idea of making changes to conventional conservation practices, including modifying baselines, changing decision logics, embracing new metrics of success, and managing for alternative ecological outcomes. There was evident conservativism as well when respondents were asked about their personal preferences for conservation, but this is in part related to personal values. It may also relate to their multiple concerns about evidence, resourcing, and institutional impediments to success, and the fact that adaptive management is unlikely to be sufficient in the face of extensive environmental change. Though there was clear acknowledgement of the need for triage in the context of climate change, there is little option but to triage already, given the mismatch between resources and the scale of the challenges they face. There are elements that seem contradictory, including agreement on the need to modify baselines, but a sense was gleaned from many that historical baselines are not less relevant, even in the context of a changing climate in an already changed world. It could be that they envision a way to use different baselines in different places, or that they prefer even modified baselines still be informed by history. These assumptions, however, require further exploration. This survey provides a broad examination of expert preferences across the globe and, anchored to this, a snapshot of the factors that influence conservation decisions in a variety of regions across the world. While the

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respondents were asked to consider the contexts in which they work and many provided important caveats, there is still a need for more research on expert preferences that is grounded in context. The survey included a range of scenarios not covered in this chapter to prompt more engagement with context, but while these revealed differences, this is best done at more local and regional scales. Without context-specific details and information, there is a danger that expressed preferences are more like expert opinion and not judgement. Opinion tends to be based on a shallow assessment of an issue based on personal views, whereas judgement considers multiple sides and, critically, consequences of various courses of action (Yankelovich and Friedman 2010). Expert elicitations in conservation only become expert judgements about what should be done when they are connected to a particular context (Martin et al. 2012), and the likelihood of success is connected to this context and the goals that have been specified (Hobbs and Cramer 2008). Understanding apparent contradictions like this requires complementary in-depth qualitative research, some of which is outlined in the next chapter.

Knowledge Governance and Adaptation Taking these concerns about effectiveness together with views of how intense the impacts of climate change are perceived (Fig.  6.1) across almost all ecological patterns and processes (Fig. 6.2), there is a potential that this is about more than the well-known and well-documented challenge of decision-making under uncertainty. It may also be about disempowerment. There is a large body of research suggesting individuals are less likely to take action in cases where they lack self-efficacy and thus agency. Self-efficacy is a key component of behavioural intention (Terry and O’Leary 1995; Ajzen 2002; Lauren et al. 2016), and there is a sense that climate change is concerning and pervasive but difficult to manage. Psychological models of behaviour suggest that attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control influence intention to perform a behaviour, and they can account for a great degree of variation in the difference between intention and behaviour (Ajzen 2002). In other words, if you believe that you have the skills and ability to do something

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and a positive attitude towards it, then you are more likely to perform that behaviour. Although this is normally only discussed in the literature in terms of whether or not individuals will engage in pro-environmental behaviour, it stands to reason that the same would apply to experts. There is some previous research to suggest that this is the case, as if management actions are thought to only minimally reduce risks of climate change on ecosystems, respondents have little incentive to act (Bandura 2000; Lazo et al. 2000). The prominence of both knowledge and institutional issues in the survey suggests there could be issues beyond just managing and using knowledge, but also the formal and informal rules and conventions that affect the ways knowledge is created, accessed, shared, and deployed (Van Kerkhoff 2014). Effective knowledge governance is thought to be key in future-oriented, climate-adapted conservation, drawing attention to the importance of governance processes and structures to allow integration of multiple forms of knowledge (e.g. from research, practice, local people) and draw on diverse networks of actors to better align conservation practice to the social, political, and ecological context in which it takes place (Wyborn et  al. 2016). Knowledge governance considers whose knowledge is acquired and used, who that knowledge is used by, how formal and informal rules shape responses to that knowledge, who has agency to overcome knowledge barriers, and the processes of learning that are in place (Wyborn et al. 2016). Expert preferences have not been explicitly integrated into understandings of knowledge governance, but they are implicitly there in the acknowledgement that failure to grapple with many environmental challenges is influenced by failure to grapple with the clashes and controversies over knowledge (Van Kerkhoff 2014). There are a number of knowledge governance challenges that have been highlighted so far, as it relates to transforming ecosystems and climate change, including lack of institutional support, institutional constraints to adaptation, managing political influence, and questions about whose knowledge and whose values are relevant. All these link to the adaptive capacity dimensions from Chap. 3, with hints to the idea that the failure to adapt biodiversity management to changing climatic conditions is in part because of poor knowledge governance. This is explored in more depth in the case of fire and nature-based solutions in the next chapter.

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On this theme of knowledge governance, it is also important to consider whose knowledge is included in research on expertise. The research on this topic, to date, has focused mainly on researchers and practitioners—it is essential that future preferences research is broad in scope. Furthermore, many people who make decisions about how to intervene in conservation are experts in their own right but not fully captured by this survey, including managers and policy advisors in government agencies, conservation officers in non-profit organisations, and environmental managers in private companies undertaking restoration (e.g. post-­ mining). While they often rely heavily on the judgement of ecologists and ecological research (Kiatkoski Kim et al. 2016), they are experts in their own right who may be more or less comfortable with changing the purpose and means of conservation. These ideas about effectiveness, knowledge, and agency could explain in part the apparent ‘inconsistencies’ identified in previous research, where experts tend to have high levels of acceptance that there is a need to engage with non-traditional options to confront climate change in biodiversity management but overwhelming preferences for traditional options in practice (Hagerman and Satterfield 2013, 2015). This is likely to be partly the result of uncertainty and lack of information about many non-traditional options and their effectiveness, and a precautionary approach in the face of insufficient evidence is an age-old response. It is certainly central in science as well as a fundamental principle in the shaping of climate and other environmental policies (Fullem 1995; Martin 1997). Even if new approaches are needed, if experts do not believe that these options are effective, then it is no surprise—and indeed rational and in keeping with the core principles of environmental policy—to be averse to applying them in practice while awaiting more information or more effective options. There is likely an element of frustration for scientists as well in the idea that the precautionary approach is paid lip service to but is not taken seriously in climate action. In effect, society continues to break things it does not yet know how to fix (in this case, the climate system and the biosphere), which is not really precautionary at all (Martin 1997).

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Balancing Precaution and Flexibility A recurring theme in the literature on governance and transformation is the need to be more flexible in response to the changing social, economic, and ecological conditions that we face whilst also ensuring we protect species, ecological functions, and ecosystem services. This has presented a quandary for governance scholars, particularly as it has become evident that the idea of adaptive governance is difficult to implement in practice (Chap. 2). It is clear that the experts in this and other studies feel that same tension. There are a number of paradoxes that need to be confronted. For example, they worry about the loss of control over what is worth conserving, but they acknowledge that we already have limited control. They accept that there is a need to change practice and that there is a need to act under conditions of uncertainty, but they are reluctant to move to new practices where the consequences are unknown. Among respondents, there was strong support for legal and policy reforms that allow dynamic objectives or flexible targets (Fig. 6.3), but also some concerns that conflicting objectives and agency mandates inhibit adaptation (Table 6.7). Of course, one reason for these paradoxes is the institutional dynamics outlined earlier, that is, path dependency, the tendency to reinforce habit and routine as well as power dynamics, and the resistance to change. While this can be frustrating, particularly when dealing with the complex, uncertain, and ever-changing problems of the Anthropocene, it is important to remember that this is also the strength of institutions. Institutions, and the governance systems of which they are a part, enable robust, sustained, collective action and problem-solving. This is why we codify environmental commitments into law and policy. Effective environmental laws provide a transparent set of agreed principles, clear rules about what can and cannot be done, mutually understood consequences of non-compliance, well-defined and differentiated roles and responsibilities, and means of holding key actors accountable. This requires a measure of stability, and it does not work if the rules of the game are too vague or fluid.

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On the other hand, adapting to climate change and confronting the many interacting drivers of biodiversity loss require nimbleness in order to act at the right time and place, and adjust responses when it is clear current approaches are not working. While it is important to not abandon core principles of biodiversity conservation, climate change is placing pressure on the already stressed ecosystems. The conservation community has already had to grapple with the idea of triage because it has limited funding to intervene, and many of the tools at its disposal are not as effective as we would like, even if they are the best we can do. Many of the fundamental economic and social drivers of biodiversity loss are also so pervasive and wide in scope (e.g. economic markets) that it is unreasonable to expect that these can be confronted through better biodiversity governance and will require much broader societal transformations. Climate change is again requiring conservation experts to confront the idea of loss, against the backdrop of constant loss that they have already been experiencing (and grieving). There is also a need to distinguish—and confront—what we can and what we cannot control. Legal reforms will likely need to be a part of this, as they change the rules under which conservationists work, and also can provide the safety net that may make some experts more comfortable with changing practice. There are a number of concepts that have emerged in the legal literature that could potentially inform more effective biodiversity governance, particularly in the context of climate change. Legal scholars have drawn attention to the need to much more closely integrate climate change adaptation goals with biodiversity goals in law as a start. They have identified a number of promising pathways to reform the legal framework for conservation and restoration that provides both the flexibility that is needed and the security we want (Palmer and Ruhl 2015; Akhtar-khavari and Richardson 2019; McDonald et al. 2019), some of which are actually inspired by concepts from the novel ecosystems and renewal ecology literature (McCormack 2019). Another legal concept worth considering is ‘principled flexibility,’ which provides a way of thinking about how to balance the need to flexibly adapt policies and practices to confront change in the present and in anticipation of further changes into the future (Craig 2010).

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There are similar ideas about reflexive law, which are thought to be a better fit for enhancing resilience and adaptation (Garmestani and Benson 2013). It is one potential way to reform policy in a way that allows flexibility within defined limits. It requires a clear distinction between uncontrollable climate change impacts from controllable anthropogenic impacts on species, resources, and ecosystems. It also requires an overall climate change adaptation strategy that can be locally adapted but adheres to mutually agreed principles. These principles would need to be agreed through a democratic and scientific process, but they could include: • Enshrining requirements for monitoring, learning, and foresight into law; • Requiring actions to eliminate or reduce non-climate stressors and enhance resilience to climate change; • Increasing coordination across sectors, interests, governments, and political portfolios and long-term infrastructure to sustain this; • Adopting principled flexibility in regulatory goals and policies; and • Incorporating means of dealing with ecological losses that are unavoidable. Each one of these, of course, presents a whole range of challenges all by themselves and would likely require reform to each of the five domains of governance discussed in this book. But the last principle is perhaps the most uncomfortable. There was quite widespread agreement in the survey of the need to accept that some species loss is inevitable. The question is not if more species will be lost, but how many and which ones. This may be seen as resignation or pragmatism, but within the Anthropocene context, it should not be surprising. A recent article proposed that a new global target of less than 20 extinctions per year akin to the 2°C climate target should be accepted and implemented (Rounsevell et al. 2020). It is a sad indictment on the state of nature that this would represent a vast improvement from the present situation, but it raises a number of important questions about how to implement principled flexibility in a way where the flexibility aspect does not undermine core principles that are important to us. Even though loss

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is happening already at astonishing rates, explicitly accepting that loss and perhaps even enshrining it in our legal and policy frameworks present a whole host of practical and ethical issues, including who has the power to decide what species are saved and which will perish, where those losses should occur and whether that is fair, who has responsibility for policing such a target, and whose knowledge is used to make the decisions. Many of these same themes emerge with respect to the challenges discussed in the next chapter.

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Hunziker, M. et al. (2008) ‘Evaluation of Landscape Change by Different Social Groups’, Mountain Research and Development. International Mountain Society (IMS) and United Nations University, 28(2), pp.  140–147. doi: https://doi.org/10.1659/mrd.0952. Junker, J. et al. (2015) ‘Integrating wildlife conservation with conflicting economic land-use goals in a West African biodiversity hotspot’, Basic and Applied Ecology. Elsevier, 16(8), pp. 690–702. Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (1989) The experience of nature: a psychological perspective. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. doi: https://doi. org/10.1097/00005053-199111000-00012. Van Kerkhoff, L. (2014) ‘Knowledge governance for sustainable development: a review’, Challenges in sustainability, 1(2), pp. 82–93. Kiatkoski Kim, M. et  al. (2016) ‘The User, not the Tool: Perceptions of Credibility and Relevance Affect the Uptake of Prioritisation’, Environmental Management. United States: Springer Verlag, 57(4), pp.  836–846. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-015-0653-3. Kueffer, C. and Kaiser-Bunbury, C. N. (2014) ‘Reconciling conflicting perspectives for biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Ecological Society of America, 12(2), pp.  131–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1890/120201. Lauren, N. et  al. (2016) ‘You did, so you can and you will: self-efficacy as a mediator of spillover from easy to more difficult pro-environmental behaviour’, Journal of Environmental Psychology. Elsevier, 48, pp. 191–199. Lazo, J. K., Kinnell, J. C. and Fisher, A. (2000) ‘Expert and layperson perceptions of ecosystem risk’, Risk Analysis, 20(2), pp. 179–194. MacDonald, E., Milfont, T. and Gavin, M. (2015) ‘Thinking Globally But Not Acting Locally?: Expert and Public Perceptions of Environmental Threats and Conservation Actions’, Human Dimensions of Wildlife. Routledge, 20(2), pp. 123–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2015.963748. Mace, G.  M. et  al. (2014) ‘Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity’, Global Environmental Change, 1(28), pp. 289–97. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.07.009. Manning, A.  D. et  al. (2009) ‘Landscape fluidity–a unifying perspective for understanding and adapting to global change’, Journal of Biogeography, 36(2), pp. 193–199. Marchal, V. et al. (2011) OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050. Paris. Martin, L. J., Blossey, B. and Ellis, E. (2012) ‘Mapping where ecologists work: biases in the global distribution of terrestrial ecological observations’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(4), pp. 195–201.

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Martin, P. H. (1997) ‘“ If You Don’t Know How to Fix it, Please Stop Breaking it!” The Precautionary Principle and Climate Change’, Foundations of Science. Springer, 2(2), pp. 263–292. McCormack, P. C. (2019) ‘Reforming restoration law to support climate change adaptation’, in Ecological restoration law: concepts and case studies. Oxon: Routledge. McDonald, J. et al. (2019) ‘Adaptation pathways for conservation law and policy’, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Wiley-Blackwell, 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.555. Miller, J. R. and Bestelmeyer, B. T. (2016) ‘What’s wrong with novel ecosystems, really?’, Restoration Ecology, 24(5), pp. 577–582. Nassauer, J.  I. (1995) ‘Messy ecosystems, orderly frames’, Landscape journal, 14(2), pp. 161–170. Palmer, M. A. and Ruhl, J. B. (2015) ‘Aligning restoration science and the law to sustain ecological infrastructure for the future’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13, pp. 512–519. doi: https://doi.org/10.1890/150053. Perring, M. P., Standish, R. J. and Hobbs, R. J. (2013) ‘Incorporating novelty and novel ecosystems into restoration planning and practice in the 21st ­century’, Ecological Processes. Springer Verlag, pp.  1–8. doi: https://doi. org/10.1186/2192-1709-2-18. Petty, A. M. et al. (2015) ‘Applying historical ecology to natural resource management institutions: lessons from two case studies of landscape fire management’, Global Environmental Change. Elsevier, 31, pp. 1–10. Pimm, S. L. et al. (2014) ‘The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection’, Science, 344(6187), p. 1246752. Robinson, J. G. (2012) ‘Common and conflicting interests in the engagements between conservation organizations and corporations’, Conservation biology. Wiley Online Library, 26(6), pp. 967–977. Rounsevell, M. D. A. et al. (2020) ‘A biodiversity target based on species extinctions’, Science, 368(6496), pp. 1193 LP – 1195. doi: https://doi.org/10.1126/ science.aba6592. Rudd, M. A. (2011) ‘Scientists’ Opinions on the Global Status and Management of Biological Diversity’, Conservation Biology. Wiley Online Library, 25(6), pp. 1165–1175. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01772.x. Sala, O.  E. et  al. (2000) ‘Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100’, Science, 287(5459), pp.  1770–1774. doi: https://doi.org/10.1126/ science.287.5459.1770.

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Schaffner, D., Demarmels, S. and Juettner, U. (2015) ‘Promoting biodiversity: Do consumers prefer feelings, facts, advice or appeals?’, Journal of Consumer Marketing. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Scheffer, M. et al. (2015) ‘Creating a safe operating space for iconic ecosystems’, Science, 347(6228), pp.  1317–1319. doi: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa3769. Seddon, N. et al. (2016) ‘Biodiversity in the Anthropocene: Prospects and policy’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1844), pp. 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2094. Slimak, M. W. and Dietz, T. (2006) ‘Personal values, beliefs, and ecological risk perception’, Risk Analysis, 26(6), pp. 1689–1705. Steffen, W. et al. (2009) Australia’s Biodiversity and Climate Change. Canberra, ACT: CSIRO Publishing. Available at: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/ lib/liverpool/detail.action?docID=542595. Steffen, W. et al. (2018) ‘Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115. Steg, L. and Vlek, C. (2009) ‘Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: An integrative review and research agenda’, Journal of environmental psychology. Elsevier, 29(3), pp. 309–317. Sunstein, C. R. (2006) ‘The availability heuristic, intuitive cost-benefit analysis, and climate change’, Climatic Change, 77(1–2), pp. 195–210. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1007/s10584-006-9073-y. Swanwick, C. (2009) ‘Society’s attitudes to and preferences for land and landscape’, Land Use Policy. Pergamon, 26(SUPPL. 1), pp. S62–S75. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.08.025. Terry, D. J. and O’Leary, J. E. (1995) ‘The theory of planned behaviour: The effects of perceived behavioural control and self-efficacy’, British journal of social psychology. Wiley Online Library, 34(2), pp. 199–220. Tylianakis, J. M. et al. (2008) ‘Global change and species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems’, Ecology Letters, 11(12), pp. 1351–1363. Verbrugge, L.  N. H., Van Den Born, R.  J. G. and Lenders, H.  J. R. (2013) ‘Exploring public perception of non-native species from a visions of nature perspective’, Environmental Management. Springer, pp.  1562–1573. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-013-0170-1. Wallace, K. J. (2012) ‘Values: drivers for planning biodiversity management’, Environmental Science & Policy, 17(0), pp. 1–11. Available at: http://www. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901111001912.

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7 Contested Concepts, Cultures of Knowledge, and the Chimera of Change

There are many concepts that emerge with the potential to change the way we think about environmental problems, helping to re-frame both the nature of the problem and possible solutions. Although in theory many of these ideas are sound and logical, translation into governance systems and management practices is slow and contested. As one of the many contested concepts in the Anthropocene, novel ecosystems offer an example of this problem of transferring theory into practice. And yet, it is in the very contested nature of novel ecosystems that a path towards reconciling this problem can be found. Much of what is contested in the novel ecosystem debates is actually about how we confront the drivers of transformation in social and ecological systems, and whether we need incremental or radical reform of governance to do so. Adaptation is an inherently political process, and struggles related to subjectivity, knowledge, and authority can open up or close down space for changing governance (Eriksen et al. 2015). This chapter builds on the previous discussion of expert perceptions and knowledge governance to explore how contested knowledge and ideas can influence adaptive capacity, paving the way for change (Domain 5). It uses the idea of ‘framing contests’ (Domain 1) to understand some of the new ways of framing both problems and © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2_7

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solutions—a process which can either be used to relabel old ideas and reinforce existing orthodoxies or be leveraged as an opportunity for transformation. It is important to remember that adaptation can encompass both incremental and transformative changes, and it is worth briefly revisiting these concepts here. There is a large body of literature on how to leverage transformative change and foster transformative adaptation in governance and SESs (Chaffin et al. 2016; Wyborn et al. 2016a; Abson et al. 2017; Colloff et al. 2017, 2017; Andrachuk et al. 2018; Edmondson and Levy 2019; Plummer et al. 2020). Much of this literature is theoretical in origins. Although much of this theory has been built from empirical case studies, it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions about what these case studies have in common in terms of intentional efforts to reform governance, and whether transformation emerged from radical or a series of incremental reforms. We are also a long way from being able to tease out the effect of contextual conditions (e.g. favourable political climate) and the effect of intentional reform efforts. Still, as noted in Chap. 2, incremental change, if directed at aspects most in need of reform, can provide the scaffolding towards more transformative changes (Clement et  al. 2015) or, to use another metaphor, provide the building blocks for transformation (Andrachuk et al. 2018). This may not be enough, however, so questions about the capacities needed for transformation when it is required need to be raised. It is certainly the case that incremental change is favoured in many cases because transformation is too difficult, and by the time it is clear that more radical change is required, it is often too late (Colloff et al. 2017). Researchers have used a number of metaphors, heuristics, and frameworks to help explain transformative change, including ideas about deep leverage points (Abson et al. 2017) and adaptation pathways (Colloff et al. 2017; McDonald et al. 2019). Yet even if we agree that transformation of governance—or at least of decision contexts—is what we need to deal with transformation of ecosystems, how to get there is still unclear. Many of the most important levers for change have been identified, but these are big levers, for example, paradigms, norms, values, worldviews, and the fundamental social and economic systems that shape our choices (Chaffin et al. 2016; Abson et al. 2017), and practical insights

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into ways to push those levers are scant (Chap. 2). The previous chapters have examined, in various ways, the sets of values, rules, and knowledge that shape how decisions are made, which are thought to be central to either limiting or enabling transformation in governance (Gorddard et al. 2016; Wyborn et  al. 2016b; Colloff et  al. 2017). Focusing on values, rules, and knowledge can help diagnose constraints to adaptation by revealing the societal structures that influence decision processes, which then can be used to develop strategies and agency to overcome these impediments (Gorddard et al. 2016). The previous chapters touched on ideas about how novel ecosystems and other non-traditional ideas about what counts as conservation can be controversial or dismissed if they conflict with prevailing rules, knowledge, and values. Many of the conflicts and tensions discussed so far are also about knowledge governance (Chap. 6). Experts often focus on the importance of managing knowledge, for example, the need for robust data, the challenges of uncertainty, and the wealth of as yet unknown scientific details. Institutional and policy impediments are also considered to be important, but separate. The concept of knowledge governance addresses how the broader social, cultural, and political aspects affect what knowledge is used, whose knowledge is used, and how that knowledge is adopted. It can be seen as the link between Domain 5 and the other domains, as it the layer between capacity and knowledge, and broader institutional rules and norms (Van Kerkhoff 2014). While the previous chapter explored individual expert preferences, this chapter explores how such preferences play out in the governance of knowledge, using two very different examples. The first focuses on the governance of wildfires to understand how debates between experts and competing frames intensify when ecological transformation is imminent. The second explores whether a relatively new concept, nature-based solutions, lives up to its promise that it can transform the way we solve environmental challenges, in part by placing ‘co-production’ and ‘co-design’ of knowledge front and centre.

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Framing Contests and Transforming Ecosystems There is fairly widespread agreement on the need for new objectives, metrics of success, and approaches to more effectively conserve biodiversity and meet the challenge of ecosystem transformation. For any of this to be achieved, there is a need to reach beyond experts and incorporate the diverse values, rules, and knowledge framings of multiple stakeholders (Colloff et  al. 2017). We return, then, to the power of framing and reframing. Frames are not just communicative tools, but also central to organising thoughts and the ways in which we interpret facts, values, and meanings (Goffman 1974). Frames refer to the structures of meaning that can be found in any culture, but framing refers to the active social process of using frames to shape public debates (Hertog and McLeod 2001). In this sense, there are stable frames that shape the way we approach biodiversity conservation, but the active debates about novel ecosystems, cultural landscapes, climate adaptation, and so forth involve framing messages in a particular way to advocate for either change or the status quo. Earlier chapters talked about framing as a rhetorical tool that can be used to elevate certain aspects of a narrative (Chap. 1). The ways in which we frame problems and their resolutions reflect how we think and what we believe now, but there is also evidence that framing can be a powerful tool for reshaping the way we think about problems, solutions, and the dynamic social and ecological contexts in which decisions are made (Chap. 3). Changes in individual framings can also lead to collective changes to frames and narratives, but this must also be met with broader changes in governance if it is to be successful (Chap. 4). The previous chapter raised questions about whether experts have conservative ways of approaching biodiversity conservation and a conservative approach to conservation. It is notable, however, that individual expert preferences exist within environments where they cannot always be expressed, and, in fact, may be actively suppressed (Clement et  al. 2016). Even when they are not suppressed, they are still shaped by the organisational environments and contexts in which they work. Many experts are embedded in conservation organisations that have their own

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ways of framing conservation, how it ‘should’ be practised, and what does (and does not) need to change. An expert who works in an organisation with a conservative culture of decision-making may express different preferences than they would in another decision-making context. Under conditions of uncertainty, actors within these organisations may engage in ‘framing contests’ which can either reinforce existing practice or be leveraged for change (Kaplan 2008). This is a useful model for understanding much of what is presented in this chapter as well as the important role that frames play as both constraints and resources for change (Domain 1). This idea of ‘framing contests’ reminds us that frames cannot just be deployed at will to ‘sell’ a particular perspective or action, but can come to dominate an organisation, and individuals who work in them often try to transform their own cognitive frames into one that is consistent with the operating environment in which they work (Kaplan 2008). This is why experts, policymakers, and others engaged in conservation may appear to operate using ‘groupthink’, but it is more complicated than that: Where frames about a decision are not congruent, actors engage in framing practices in an attempt to make their frame resonate and mobilize action in their favour. These practices embody more or less skilful efforts to establish the legitimacy of their frames and of themselves as claimsmakers or to realign frames to influence how others see issues. These framing practices define what is at stake and thus are a means of transforming actors’ interests. If framing activities are successful, one particular frame will come to predominate as a guide to actors’ positions regarding a strategic choice. If these efforts are not successful, frame divergence can defer decisions. How these contests play out shapes the degree of continuity or change created through the strategy-making process. (Kaplan 2008, p. 730)

In other words, the ways in which preferred problems, solutions, and many other aspects of understanding environmental challenges are framed is a political process, even within expert communities and conservation organisations. Bear these dynamics in mind in reading the sections that follow, as it is clear that there are a great many framing contests at play, driven in part by the realities of climate change that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

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Fire and Transformation Fire is an enduring aspect of the Earth, having been prominent as a natural driver of disturbance long before humans ever existed. Wildfire has shaped ecosystems over hundreds of millions of years, influencing both biological evolution and global biogeochemical cycles in the process (Bond and Keeley 2005; Bowman et al. 2011). Humans have also used fire as a deliberate land management tool for thousands of years and continue to do so, for example, to clear land for agriculture, to manage for particular species, and for hunting. It is difficult to overstate the important role of fire in shaping the landscape. One study suggested that if it were possible to ‘switch off fire’, then the world would be almost unrecognisable, with half the world covered in forest because many of the world’s grasslands and savannas would transform (Bond et al. 2005). Although it is challenging to calculate the global extent of fire, current estimates suggest around 400 million hectares (4 million square kilometres) of global land area burns every year, which is about the size of India and Pakistan combined. Most of this area is savannas and their transition zones to tropical rainforests, Mediterranean forest, central Asian grasslands, and boreal forests in Asia and North America (Chuvieco et al. 2019). Fire regimes1 not only shape the way landscapes look and are used, but they also play important roles in maintaining the health of some ecosystems, impacting nutrient cycling as well as the structure and function of vegetation, although this is highly variable across ecosystem types depending on the fire regime to which they are adapted. Fire is also a potential driver of ecosystem transformation over the longer term, especially as it interacts with other drivers of degradation and potentially due to the ways in which we manage landscapes for fire.

 A fire regime refers to frequency, season, type, severity, and extent of fires in a landscape. It can also include fuel consumption and spread patterns (Bond and Keeley 2005). 1

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Humans, Wildfire, and Biodiversity As with many other environmental problems in the Anthropocene, not all of the fire that occurs each year is ‘natural’, and the frequency, intensity, extent, and pattern of wildfires are changing. There are many anthropogenic changes to landscapes—and management decisions—that have made them more flammable. The impacts of climate change are thought to be important, with weather and vegetation conditions that make landscapes more prone to fire, whether the source of ignition is natural (e.g. lightning) or a deliberate or accidental human source. Among the consequences of climate change are warmer temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, including increased frequency of droughts, which are projected to significantly increase fire risk (IPCC 2014; Abatzoglou et al. 2019). Even before the Anthropocene, modelling of past fire regimes suggests that high temperatures and prolonged periods of low precipitation are thought to be the most influential drivers of wildfire extent (Bradshaw and Sykes 2014). It is difficult to tease out the effect of climate change from other drivers of wildfire risk, but it certainly establishes many of the conditions that increase fire risk—conditions that will all be exacerbated by climate change. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that we can expect more large, intense fires; longer fire seasons; and fire in areas not previously vulnerable to them as the climate gets warmer and drier in many areas of the world (Bowman et  al. 2011; IPCC 2012). This is already happening. Fire risk is high in most inhabited parts of the world (World Bank n.d.), and there are signs we have already seen intensifications in the scale and destructive capacity of fire in these areas in the last few decades (c.f. Morton et al. 2013). Fire is also estimated to emit 8 billion tonnes of CO2 a year (Van Der Werf et al. 2017). This has ripple effects for the biosphere and the atmosphere, although there are complicated feedbacks between fire and the climate systems that are as yet not entirely understood (IPCC 2012). There is some debate about how much fire contributes to greenhouse gas emissions because carbon can be sequestered when the vegetation grows back again (Van Der Werf et al. 2017). This is influenced by a number of variables, however, including the type of ecosystem and the time scale you are looking at, as recovery times vary across

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ecosystems. Repeated intense, large-scale fires combined with other stressors can make recovery increasingly precarious (c.f. Hansen et  al. 2018), and further climate and land use change means that what replaces a fire-affected ecosystem may not have the same carbon-sequestering potential. Questions around the impact of fire on biodiversity values are just as complex. Climate change adds a further stressor to already stressed species and ecosystems (Chap. 6), which could make them less resilient and capable of recovering after a fire. While wildfire can provide beneficial biodiversity outcomes in some ecosystems, this is highly dependent on the fire regimes with which these systems co-evolved. Suppression can be problematic in some ecosystems, whilst it is necessary in other ecosystems. In simple terms, fire needs to be able to play its ‘natural’ role in an ecosystem so as not to threaten biodiversity values (Shlisky et al. 2007). Yet fire regimes are degraded in many areas across the world, due not just to climate but also other human factors. Changes in vegetation, flora and fauna dynamics, grazing regimes, human settlement patterns, and policy changes may all also exacerbate maladaptive fire regimes, potentially triggering transformative changes (Pausas and Keeley 2014). Urban development, agriculture, resource extraction, climate change, and inappropriate fire management practices (including too much or too little fire) are among the major threats to biodiversity from changing fire regimes (Shlisky et al. 2007). To reduce wildfire risk, the received wisdom among many land management organisations in many places across the world is that you need to ‘take out the stuff that burns’ (Keenan 2020). This is usually realised through the use of prescribed burning and mechanical methods of controlling fuel load, with the assumption that existing practices will present hazards to communities and, if done correctly, promote higher biodiversity value. However, the scientific evidence is mixed and geographically variable for both risk reduction and biodiversity management, and can have opposite effects depending on the ecosystem (c.f. Pastro et al. 2011; Stephens et al. 2012; Zylstra 2018; Clarke et al. 2020). It is worth noting that there is a link here to cultural landscapes (Chap. 5), as abandonment of the land can dramatically change fire management—sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. The loss of Aboriginal fire regimes in

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Australia and replacement with European-style fire regimes is one very prominent example, where it has been argued that the transplantation of European ideas about burning into the Australian landscape has made it more flammable (Bowman 1998a, b; Bowman et al. 2004), demonstrating the very real impacts of cultural severance for both people and nature. The tensions between biodiversity conservation and risk-reduction practices have become increasingly evident over time, as we will see. They provide an illuminating case study around how evidence can be used strategically to tell stories that either reinforce the status quo in fire management or push towards establishment of a new dominant framing of what needs to be done to achieve biodiversity conservation, hazard reduction, and confront the challenges of climate change.

Crisis—And Opportunity? The predicted increase in catastrophic bushfires is not just a scientific theory but has become a very public debate. This is because several countries have experienced record-breaking wildfire seasons in recent years, which have attracted global media attention that could be considered a window of opportunity. Fires can be truly transformative at a massive scale, and seeing such transformations can have a notable effect on public opinion about the ways in which ecosystems should be deliberately managed with (and for) fire (Bowman et al. 2011). There have been a number of recent devastating fire events that have captured worldwide attention and brought some of these issues relating to both fire and biodiversity conservation to the fore, and along with them the policy failures that led to the situation in which we find ourselves. This includes the historic 2018 wildfire season in the USA, which included California’s deadliest wildfire in the town of Paradise. Said to be facilitated by climatic conditions that breed wildfires but sparked by ageing electrical infrastructure, these fires have been used to call attention to maladaptive forest management practices (Melo 2020), the threats posed by extreme heat waves, and the ripple effects of our current problematic behaviours that have impacted the global climate system. Most recently, 10 million hectares burned in Siberia in in the summer of 2019, and as this is written in the

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summer of 2020, this same area is on fire once again. Although fire is an enduring feature of boreal forests, there have also been a number of heatwaves and large, intense wildfires in the Arctic. The images and impacts of these wildfires have received a great deal of attention and helped bring awareness to the broader public of the intersections between climate change, wildfire, biodiversity, and human health (Blumberg 2019). Beyond the American and Arctic examples, there was also the 2019 wildfire season in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru, which highlighted the devastating outcomes of what happens when large-scale deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture combine with a drying climate. In these examples, there is a clear link to governance, in that although the rate of deforestation has been decreasing, particularly in the Amazon region, in recent years, it is increasing again, with several hundred hectares being cleared per day, only to be replaced by non-native grasslands and croplands (Brando et al. 2020). There are a number of themes that are similar to the Australian case study that follows, including the fact that this was a foreseeable disaster, as well as the government’s problematic responses to confront the drivers of shifting fire regimes. In the case of Brazil, these include the economic drivers of clearing, which continued apace, even as it was clear the fires were endangering rainforest (Brando et al. 2020). In response to the Brazilian crisis, researchers have suggested a number of changes to governance that could potentially be implemented during this window of opportunity, which are also similar to those in other areas prone to wildfire, including innovative strategies to reduce clearing, cooperation across political boundaries, interagency cooperation, and the need for a new sustainable development paradigm to replace the current model (Nobre et al. 2016; Brando et al. 2020). Brazil is globally important in fulfilling a demand for new agricultural land to feed an ever-­ growing population, and is similar to other areas in that national policies struggle to confront global economic drivers. Of all these disasters, perhaps the most omnipresent in the public’s mind at the start of 2020 was the unprecedented fire season in Australia. In response to the ‘Black Summer’ fires, as they became known, there were renewed calls to act on climate, protect the country’s rural and peri-urban environments, and save the country’s unique flora and fauna. Such calls are easier understood than responded to, however, as the causes for the increase in such

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catastrophic fires are complex and not driven just by climate change or the actions of any one actor but by a number of biophysical, socio-­ economic, and management conditions that are exacerbating the problem. The stakes for people and nature are so high that this is an area where framing contests have become evident, not just within the agencies that manage fire but also in very public forums. Although the details of the debate will vary across contexts, there are a number of quite public framing contests that have emerged in the wake of the recent Australian fires that can provide insight into areas where conditions are ripe for transformation.

 atastrophic Bushfires and Contested Knowledge C in Australia Australia has had more than its fair share of high-profile fire events that have not only brought to light the very tangible impacts of environmental change on both ecosystems and communities, but also demonstrate the impacts of failed knowledge governance. The most recent bushfire season in 2019/20 was, by many measures, catastrophic, with 11–18 million hectares having burnt over several months, resulting in the loss of an estimated 5900 buildings and 2800 homes burnt and 33 lives lost (Baldwin and Ross 2020). Although the exact numbers are contested, hundreds of millions of animals have been estimated to have lost their lives as well, and 20 endangered animals may have been pushed closer to extinction (Woinarski et al. 2020). Australia is no stranger to fire, of course, even catastrophic ones, but many of the most recent fires were in ecosystems that do not normally burn, including 54% of the temperate rainforest in New South Wales (DPIE 2020). This same report found the fires had affected many high biodiversity value areas and significantly reduced ecological conditions from an already stressed baseline. This grave situation is on top of a number of high-profile catastrophic fire events in the last 20-year period, which has included the 2003 fires in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, the 2006/2007 season, and the 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ fires. These have not only resulted in the loss of life, property, and the degradation of ecosystems but have once again drawn

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into sharp focus the inadequacies of many aspects of fire management, governance, and policy. For all of the increased public attention on the escalating fire situation in Australia, a barrier exists in the form of deeply ingrained political behaviours. There has long been a tendency in Australia to respond to fire disasters with enquiries, policy recommendations, and more burning. There have been over 300 enquiries on the topic of bushfires and fire management since the late nineteenth century, with dozens of inquiries and policy recommendations just in the last decade (55 between 2009 and 2017), resulting in 1300 policy recommendations, only a fraction of which have been implemented (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC n.d.; Tolhurst 2020). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the response to the ‘Black Summer’ of 2019/20 has been to plan further enquiries, which will inevitably lead to more recommendations. Amidst these scores of enquiries and policies, the framing of what constitutes ‘good’ fire management has been paramount. Discussions of what works and what does not, and whether current practices are helpful or harmful for communities and/or ecosystems can actually lead to maladaptive change have abounded. This has led to, amongst other things, an increasingly vocal discourse among experts about whether there is actually a need for more burning, or whether the fact that the response has always been to burn more is doing more harm than good, or at least not solving the problems we are aiming to solve. Previous catastrophic bushfires have led to marked changes in fire management practices that were already thought to be problematic in some ecosystems, with reform serving to lead to outcomes that may not effectively address either risk reduction or conservation objectives (Clement et al. 2016). Governance reform, therefore, has been no guarantor of better outcomes for biodiversity. The framing conflicts that have emerged in recent years among experts, practitioners, and decision-makers have been exacerbated by issues about who does and does not get to take part in the discussion. What constitutes an ‘expert’ in Australian fire management is an interesting point for consideration. Several fire scientists have pointed out that a great deal of fire management practice in Australia and elsewhere is not based on peer-­ reviewed evidence, but on long-held assumptions that have established

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habit and routine, that is, ‘the way we have always done it,’ built on outdated ideas that have not been scientifically proven, for example, that there is a direct relationship between fuel load and flammability, or that you need to burn every five years to reduce fuel load. These tensions have been evident in the many news stories, opinion pieces, and conferences involving experts during the 2019/2020 bushfire season (c.f. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC 2020). It is important to understand that prescribed burning can do little to prevent catastrophic bushfires. However, it can reduce the risk of typical wildfires if such burns are done near property (Gibson and Pannell 2014; Penman et al. 2015). This is not typical practice, despite this evidence, because even though this is more effective, it is often not the most economically efficient response (Florec et al. 2020), nor does it allow agencies to meet their large prescribed targets. This is why prescribed burning so often consists of burning large areas of national parks, even though it is thought by many experts to be a blunt instrument for little reward in terms of risk, and also negatively impacts biodiversity. There is still resistance among some experts and decision-makers to upending the received wisdom underpinning most prescribed burning activities. In part, the argument is that burning signals that ‘something’ is happening, which is thought to provide political and social capital, but this is based more on perception than evidence. The culture of experts, the culture of fire management agencies, and the influence on how evidence is used were key factors identified as impeding effective biodiversity governance in the previous research I undertook on fire in the Australian Alps. Several experts discussed how a few key actors had ways of framing what should be done to deal with bushfires that were particularly dominant, but often not evidence-based. As one researcher put it: It’s a cultural thing with fire. There’s almost no peer-reviewed science. There has been a culture of massive public body of literature without peer review. - The big names in fire science, the “fire gods”, almost never have anything peer reviewed. And even if you know the evidence, there’s a tendency to fall back on practice

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The conflicts that have re-emerged during and after the most recent bushfire season are reminiscent of many of the exact same sentiments my earlier researcher revealed, including this tendency to operate under a framing that was dominant but not based on sound evidence. As another researcher noted: We are putting in a fire regime in Victoria unlike anything it has ever seen before in pre or post-Aboriginal times or pre or post-European times…It is based on the assumption, on the wrong assumption, that if you burn an area you will reduce the fuel. It may be true in some areas, but it is not true in other ecosystems. It is absolutely totally the reverse in many ecosystems

Returning to this idea of ‘taking out the stuff that burns,’ this is still the dominant framing that influences the culture of fire management, with little nuance across different contexts. Prescribed burning is one of the main practices used by land management agencies to reduce fuel loads, with the aim to reduce fire risk for life and property, but these have been contentious both in terms of how much they actually reduce risk and in terms of their impacts on biodiversity (Penman et al. 2011; Giljohann et al. 2015; Clement et al. 2016). The dominant culture of burning more fuel loads—in the hopes that ecosystems will ultimately burn less—may have actually increased flammability in some ecosystems, such as subalpine snow gum, adding to the burden of repeated intense bushfires that have already ravaged those landscapes and the substantially elevated fire risks arising from climate change (Zylstra 2018). In contrast to the received wisdom that prescribed burns are needed every five years, recent research suggests that these snow gum forests tend to get less flammable as they mature. And yet, policies to increase prescribed burning following enquiries into the 2003 and 2009 fires led to the implementation of blanket targets for areas that needed to be burned each year in the states of New South Wales and Victoria (Kanowski et al. 2005), which has resulted in large-scale burning of public estates that are high in biodiversity. Not only can such programmes threaten ecological values, they can ignite major fire events, escaping beyond containment lines and affecting sensitive environments as well as communities. Perverse outcomes have also been documented,

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including incentives to burn areas of high biodiversity value, away from people, to reach the target and avoid complaints about air quality, and wildfires did not count against the target (Clement et al. 2016). These and other problematic forms of fire management are demonstrably not fit-for-purpose, as a previous diagnosis I undertook of the governance in the Australian Alps demonstrates (Clement 2015; Clement et al. 2016). This research concluded that there were a number of issues that resulted in poor fit between governance systems and the challenge of managing bushfires and biodiversity, including: • Conflicting mandates and lack of coordination between governance systems targeting fire management and those targeting biodiversity; • Narrowly defined accountability that focused on financial aspects and targets rather than outcomes; • Mismatches between the scales of bushfires, which cross state boundaries, and authority to coordinate across those jurisdictional boundaries; • Political pressure to burn in order to be ‘seen to be doing something’; • Displacement of ecological experts and the rise of staff with generalist skills in land management agencies; and • Constraints on the capacity for experts to provide ‘frank and fearless’ advice, limits on their discretion to make decisions, and institutional impediments that prevented adjustments in response to learning (e.g. limited flexibility in funding). The renewed debate following the most recent fires had revealed that many of these problems with governance are persistent. There are still conflicting values and knowledge around the role of prescribed burning in risk reduction and biodiversity conservation, as well as problematic interplay dynamics between the rules governing fire management and those governing biodiversity conservation, suggesting continued failure of knowledge governance. Encouragingly, my previous research had revealed a number of managers within agencies are frustrated with the status quo in governance, and the tendency to respond to fires with more fire and more pressure to burn in areas that should not be burned. Many of these people had quietly expressed their reservations but received little traction, and the polarised

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framing contest we are observing in response to the ‘Black Summer’ catastrophe is dominated by researchers who have the capacity to speak out independently, whereas it is much more difficult for bureaucrats to provide frank and fearless advice across many domains, including with respect to fire, biodiversity, and climate change. Much of this polarisation is owed to the increasingly simplified stories that are being told about fire by experts, with data about both fire histories and contemporary impacts of fire being used selectively to bolster narratives aimed at either keeping fire out of landscapes or increasing its intentional use. What has been interesting about this most recent debate is that many of the exact same tensions between biodiversity conservation and fire management were evident, but there has been a much more vocal group of experts speaking out on the topic. This awakened debates that have been happening for a long time amongst fire experts, but often in less visible settings, such as in conferences, in meetings, and in the academic literature. What may be new is the capacity for experts to be able to speak out via a number of different forums that allow these debates to play out publicly. It remains to be seen if this fresh dynamic in the ongoing fire debate in Australia will translate into new dominant framings being established, and, furthermore, whether this will result in action across any or all of the fronts (biodiversity conservation, burning for hazard reduction, or climate change). Even though the state of Victoria has shifted towards a more risk-based approach (rather than blanket prescriptions) since my research in the Alps, the rationale behind their models is not transparent and has led to some questions about whether it really does address the known problems with current approaches to prescribed burning. There was a great deal of concern in the Alps that efforts to improve burning prescriptions were increasingly criticised as being part of the fringe because of moves towards employing more generalists in conservation and land management agencies. As one expert, who was employed in New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, said in my research in 2013: It will be interesting to look ahead in eight years or so, people sitting in the jobs will be different and how they do they job will be different. It will be more like, oh yeah, we burn. That’s what we do. There could be a cultural

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shift. Right now, to go to 5% [the prescribed burning target], most people don’t want to do it, they don’t want to burn because it’s affecting the environment. They see the value of threshold burning for some species; but apart from that this broad acre burning is a ‘no’

Despite many experts both within academia and within governments being concerned about prescribed burning, and many holding more nuanced views, there are still many extremes in this debate. One idea is that prescribed burning is in not problematic for ecosystem health or biodiversity conservation. In a recent presentation, a well-known expert in Western Australia said: ‘there is no evidence of biodiversity loss or decline in health that can be attributed to prescribed burning’ and that critics of the current burning regime were an ‘ideologically driven opposition.’ His presentation concluded with the idea that what Australia needed was the courage to burn more, and that ‘it takes courage to take fire out, but it also takes courage to put fire in’ (Burrows 2020). There were clearly divergent views in other presentations at the same conference, including evidence that there was little correlation between fire severity and area burned during these most recent fires (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC 2020). There have also been arguments that ‘greenies’ were responsible for the catastrophic bushfires because they stopped logging from happening, despite counter-arguments from researchers that logging actually made the fires worse (Alexandra and Bowman 2020; Lindenmayer et al. 2020). These are just a few examples in this debate where experts, who are ostensibly working with the same body of evidence, yet can come to strikingly different conclusions. Not all claims have peer-reviewed evidence behind them, but many do. Given the complexity of the issues, this is partly because there are still unanswered questions. But another aspect, as we have already seen, is related to values, and a recent keynote at a fire management conference argued that evidence that contradicted the received wisdom around fire management was often dismissed as the product of poor analysis, the failure of peer review to support experience on the ground, and/or the ‘far left’ ideologies that are ostensibly pervasive in academia (Burrows 2019). These does not quite match what is seen in the academic literature, however, as there are still papers being published

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that argue that more prescribed burning is the solution (Morgan et al. 2020). These are not new or unknown problems, as the aforementioned diagnosis of governance shows and the proliferation of policy recommendations reminds us. But, particularly in the aftermath of the 2019/20 fire season, there are very real consequences for the ecosystems that will be the victims of the ongoing failure to deal with these conflicting frames, which have long deferred important decisions about what needs to be done. In an examination of the dynamics of the Australian Alps as a social-ecological system, we found that fire and other landscape-scale drivers of ecological change were transforming the Australian Alps (Lockwood et al. 2014). Repeated, large-scale, intense fires were increasingly undermining the resilience of the landscapes, and many areas were struggling to recover in the wake of previous fires, and vast areas of the Alps were affected again during the 2019/2020 season. Without governance reform, we found that biodiversity outcomes across all scenarios were projected to get worse by 2030 (Mitchell et al. 2015), and it unfortunately seems that the course has not changed. Another of the framing conflicts to emerge is around the role of climate change in fire, which has also played out very publicly. It is easy to misestimate the power of experts—self-appointed, legitimised by governments, or otherwise—speaking out in an era where media coverage is constant and the demand for sensationalist reporting on catastrophe insatiable. But there is already a history of public debates having demonstrable impacts on fire policy in Australia, so it is worth paying attention to just how much current debates around fire management have captured the attention of the public and policymakers, and/or how much the framing of these debates has been shifted. The catastrophic nature of the 2019/20 fires, combined with very powerful and widely publicised images of their impacts on ecosystems and communities, helped them to become symbol of climate inaction and a rallying cry at a time when global momentum for climate action was picking up speed through such initiatives as the climate strikes facilitated by Greta Thunberg. As noted earlier, the role of climate change in fire is thought to be a chief driver of changing fire regimes, but it is difficult to tease out the role of climate from other drivers, such as fire management activities. The fires have added

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urgency to calls to better understand these complexities, with a race underway to undertake more attribution studies to decipher the role of climate change in fires (Phillips and Nogrady 2020), but there were still plenty of calls to address climate change even in the absence of these findings (Fitzpatrick 2020). Yet even without the results of those studies, there seems to have been a broad shift in understanding since the ‘Black Summer’ fires that taking action on climate can also help Australia reckon with a future that is set to be transformed by increasingly massive and destructive blazes. Although the federal government expressed some resistance to the idea that the role of climate change in fire needs to be taken more seriously, at lower levels of governance, there was support across political parties and different stakeholders. For example, the New South Wales state government has been responsive to public calls to action, at least in principle, promising that it will probe the role of climate change in causing the fires, despite federal government insistence that Australia is doing more than its fair share (Gordon 2019). Communities and firefighters were important contributors to this change in thinking, with a number of rural mayors calling on the government to take urgent action on climate change—a remarkable feat in a country where numerous states are dependent on mining for the prosperity of their economies and, as such, have been historically reluctant to support actions to cut emissions. As Simon Shire of the Byron Shire in New South Wales said: ‘Everybody who’s involved with the bushfires is talking about climate change, the only people who aren’t talking about it are the politicians and their media supporters’ (McIlroy 2019). Such statements were important because they help to re-frame the debates, and, demonstrably in the New South Wales case, increase political pressure to act. The question is whether this drive for action on fire and climate change can engender benefits for biodiversity. It is difficult to say exactly why fire attracts more attention than some other environmental problems, but it is likely because its transformative powers are difficult to ignore when faced with the dramatic images that accompany media coverage of

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bushfires—images that play off human emotions and prompt action in response. This visibility of the consequences of fire sit in stark contrast to the steady and often silent loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems. Ostensibly, the disparity between the capacity of each of these disasters to engage the public and spark the necessary process of re-­framing makes crusading for a change in governance pertinent to biodiversity and ecosystem degradation seem forlorn. And yet, in case of the fire, there are strong arguments to be made for transformative change in governance that could bring biodiversity benefits. While these transformative changes might necessarily include the same kind of dramatic re-­framing that is required with respect to the issues of biodiversity and ecosystem degradation, they are able to leverage a much more tangible connection to both people and place. There are still lessons for those focused primarily on biodiversity and not on hazards, as part of the present re-framing of the debates on fire, the discussion is being pushed beyond simple risk management and into realms that examine the fundamental aspects of the system that are contributing to the problem and need to change. This kind of broad, system-level discussion is precisely what is needed in order to kick-start a process of re-framing debates around biodiversity and ecosystems (O’Neill and Handmer 2012).

Framing the Future Many of the themes in previous examples emerge yet again in this discussion of contested fire regimes in Australia, most noticeably the fact that expert perceptions may not always match those of the public, despite informing fundamental assumptions in governance systems. Building on the previous chapter, what this case study also reveals is that we have to be careful to understand who we are talking about when we talk about experts, in order to understand the degree to which they are either contributing to a fit-for-purpose form of governance, or further entrenching existing ideas. It is too soon to tell which expert perspective will win out in the current framing contests around fire in Australia, but it is important

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to note that, under conditions of uncertainty, if framing is considered to be incongruent with the current dominant culture in fire management, then they are more likely to result in stagnation and deferred decisions about how to change (Kaplan 2008). It is important to note that this research suggests that framing that favours a greater focus on biodiversity could be successful if one or more conditions are met: (1) if the uncertainty about alternative fire management practices is reduced through clearer framing, (2) if an actor or groups of actors are willing to undertake ownership of new ideas and strategically advocate for them, and (3) if key individuals use institutional work strategies (Lawrence et al. 2009) to generate changes in culture, cognition, norms, and rules (Chap. 3, Domain 5, Table 3.2). Based on the current state of affairs revealed in this research, it would be wise to start with the cognitive and normative aspects outlined in Table  7.1, which focus on how to develop new practices in parallel to existing ones. This is because one of the concerns expressed by some participants is that government agencies need clear prescriptions and heuristics for decision-making, not more details about the complexities of fire dynamics. Interviewees clearly understood the criticisms of current practice, but could not understand what the alternatives were being presented to them, or how they could meaningfully apply them in practice. Though researchers tend to care a great deal about communicating complexity and uncertainty, their communication of knowledge needs to be simplified if it is to successfully change practice. There is also danger in dressing up new practices in old clothing, which forms the bases of discussion on nature-based solutions.

L everaging the Power of Nature to Confront Societal Challenges There is an emerging umbrella concept in the environmental management literature that captures a number of the notions that have been discussed in this book. This umbrella concept, nature-based solutions (NBS), has in some cases been framed as a panacea, offering the answer

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Table 7.1 Potential institutional work strategies to enable change in fire governance Institutional work strategy

Example

Theorising: Developing and naming concepts and practices to support them becoming part of the way people understand and respond

Developing and naming new fire management concepts and practices, and developing new prescriptions that outline clear alternatives and where they could be practically implemented Beyond just providing the skills and knowledge needed to take these up, also making them feel more familiar and readily adaptable within existing practices by connecting them to existing ways of doing things now, as well as organisational cultures Find key allies within the fire management space who are open to changing practice, to help reshape ideas about fire management as being separate to biodiversity to one where there is a responsibility to protect ecosystems and property Constructing networks of scientists and managers can help with this, and such networks are already emerging in Australia

Mimicry: Associating new practices with taken-for-granted practices to make them feel more familiar and readily adoptable

Constructing identities: Deliberately working to re-define the relationship between the actor and the field in which they operate

Constructing normative networks: Development of informal networks where new norms and standards of practice can develop, including standards for compliance, monitoring, and evaluation Reframing ideas about burning Changing normative associations: practices that are thought to damage Remaking the connections between biodiversity as well as undermine practices and the moral and cultural community safety to demonstrate foundations of those practices. This how, if they continue current practice, may initially support new parallel this is inconsistent with the social practices which ultimately lead licence with the community to protect actors to question norms in other them areas

to a wide range of environmental, economic, and social problems, with the potential to address the growing concerns of governance across all five domains of change. NBS is a relatively new term that has as its conceptual foundation an ecosystem approach, which underpins the Convention on Biological Diversity and is built on the idea that biodiversity and

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human well-being depend on functioning and resilient natural ecosystems (CBD 2004). Similar to the concept of ‘natural solutions’ (Dudley et al. 2010), the idea of NBS is that they align the interests of biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation. NBS are defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as ‘actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits’ (Cohen-Shacham et  al. 2016, p.  5). The term emerged in 2002, and started to gather momentum in the latter half of the decade as it made its way into organisational policies and assessments (IUCN 2009), and it now forms a major part of IUCN programmes. As a concept, NBS flowed out of the idea of ecosystem services, which focuses on the benefits that nature provides to people, and it is said to mark a ‘subtle yet important shift in perspective: not only were people the passive beneficiaries of nature’s benefits, but they could also proactively protect, manage or restore natural ecosystems as a purposeful and significant contribution to addressing major societal challenges’ (Cohen-­ Shacham et al. 2016). This shift has informed the conception of NBS as the means by which ‘nature’ can be managed actively in order to confront many of the environmental and socio-economic challenges that have emerged in the Anthropocene. In theory, NBS seem a ‘win-win’ opportunity that allows biodiversity to be injected into many different policies, whether they be about agriculture, rural development, urban land use planning, or the management of natural hazards such as floods and fires. In practice, however, the concept of NBS appears to be significantly diverging from its origins in nature conservation. This section focuses on the potential of the concept of NBS to expand ideas about what it might mean to conserve biodiversity in the Anthropocene, particularly with respect to novel ecosystems and, in the case of urban areas, designed ecosystems. The principles of NBS also suggest that integrating this concept into governance systems and management actions could help facilitate more fit-for-purpose governance by building adaptive capacity. As an umbrella concept that integrates both traditional and innovative approaches to nature conservation focused on solving a wide range of challenges, it might also offer insight

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into not only what success means in such landscapes, but also how changing ‘business as usual’ affects the logics of decision-making (Domain 3). This section explores the challenge of living up to the lofty theoretical promises of NBS in practice and connects the largely conceptual ideas in the NBS literature to the practical governance and implementation of NBS interventions, for which there is scant literature to date because of the newness of the concept. What follows is based in part on action research undertaken as part of one of the NBS demonstration projects, Urban GreenUP, funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, which aims to translate theoretical ideas about how NBS can resolve societal challenges into practice and test the effects over a five-year period. While this project, as the name suggests, is entirely focused on urban areas and not on the places where concerns about ‘novel ecosystems’ arise, there is still a great deal to be learned about how the principles of NBS can be translated into practice and the governance challenges of doing so. From the perspective of biodiversity conservation, it is also important to note that urbanisation is an important driver of biodiversity decline. It will continue to be so as the world’s population increases, and cities expand in response. Enhancing the biodiversity values of these places and integrating NBS into urban developments could at least ensure biodiversity is taken seriously in these areas. Moreover, as over half the world already lives in urban areas and nearly 70% of the population is projected to reside in cities by 2050 (United Nations DESA 2019), urban areas are also, for many people, the main place in which they interact with nature. People are known to prefer biodiverse urban green spaces to those that are less diverse, and higher biodiversity is also associated with enhanced psychological well-being (Hoyle et  al. 2017; Southon et  al. 2018). Although this connection to biodiversity does not always increase conservation awareness among the public (Shwartz et al. 2014), urban residents tend to express high levels of support for nature conservation (Liordos et al. 2017). Furthermore, despite urban areas often being dismissed by biodiversity experts because they cannot provide the same level of functionality as native vegetation remnants, novel urban ecosystems can be richer in species, even native species, than rural areas and provide important habitat for rare species (Kowarik 2011).

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Origins, Principles, and Promises As framed by the IUCN, the concept of NBS would seem to have potential as a pathway to reframe biodiversity conservation in a way that can allow for the integration of novel and hybrid ecosystems into biodiversity conservation, providing benefits for ecosystem function and the kind of ecosystem services that people value. It seems to provide an alternative framing that allows for alternative objectives, baselines, and metrics, but maintains the core focus on biodiversity. The original intention was to link biodiversity conservation with goals for climate adaptation and resilience, with the concept expanding to embrace sustainable development goals (Eggermont et  al. 2015; Pauleit et  al. 2017). Although NBS are often associated with innovating, utilising nature and technological advances via biomimicry and new engineering materials (Maes and Jacobs 2017), as originally conceived, they are strongly grounded in traditional approaches to conservation. Not only is biodiversity front and centre in the definition, but the concept has strong roots in tried and true nature conservation practices, including the ecosystem approach, forest landscape restoration, ecosystem-based adaptation, protected areas, and even ecological restoration (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2019). The eight principles developed via the IUCN programme (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2016, 2019) are also promising in light of discussions in previous chapters: 1. NBS embrace nature conservation norms (and principles). There is also an emphasis on how this is not an alternative or substitute for nature conservation, but a complementary approach as part of a portfolio of activities across a whole landscape. This is consistent with the idea that the management of novel ecosystems in highly modified landscapes can complement the conservation of intact systems and allows for management of the whole landscape (Hobbs et al. 2014). 2. NBS can be implemented alone or in an integrated manner with other solutions to societal challenges (e.g. technological and engineering solutions). This is consistent with the idea that novel ecosystems—and even more so, designed ecosystems—can be combined with other systems to provide the full range of ecosystem services.

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3. NBS are determined by site-specific natural and cultural contexts that include traditional, local, and scientific knowledge. This not only addresses the idea that novel ecosystems require us to grapple with the social dimensions of ecosystems, but explicitly requires they be reckoned with and integrated as a matter of course. 4. NBS produce societal benefits in a fair and equitable way in a manner that promotes transparency and broad participation. Again, this deals with some of the key governance challenges of the Anthropocene, particularly those outlined in Domain 2. This principle explicitly acknowledges that even if we accept novel forms of nature, there will still be a need to confront the tensions between what local people and key stakeholders might want from their landscapes and the services they might provide to others, whether it be conserving biodiversity or confronting pressing issues such as the mitigation of natural hazards or water security. 5. NBS maintain biological and cultural diversity and the ability of ecosystems to evolve over time. The connection to the previous chapters is obvious here, as it acknowledges that ecosystems—whether they be novel, cultural, or largely intact systems—exist within novel and changing contexts, and that this is an issue that can be addressed through new approaches. The fact that they should have the ability to evolve over time suggests that they can become self-organising, though this is not explicitly stated. 6. NBS are applied at a landscape scale. The focus on landscape scale is important for reaching beyond single-species approaches, and this landscape scale view allows for clearer emphasis on ecosystem processes and function, which can provide the conditions for incorporating novel and hybrid ecosystems (Chap. 4). 7. NBS recognise and address the trade-offs between the production of a few immediate economic benefits for development, and future options for the production of the full range of ecosystem services. This principle explicitly calls for caution in shifting objectives that simplify ecosystems (e.g. monocultures planted for carbon sequestration). It should provide some comfort to those who are anxious at the prospect of allowing novel ecosystems to creep into conservation. For governance, it is also important to note that NBS call for fair and

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transparent processes to discuss and negotiate trade-offs between ecosystem services. 8 . NBS are an integral part of the overall design of policies, and measures or actions, to address a specific challenge. This allows for the explicit recognition of NBS in formal institutions and policies, and can allow for the incorporation of novel, hybrid, and designed ecosystems. They have gone further to illustrate how NBS can operationalise and extend ecosystem-based approaches (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2019). There is also potential to facilitate reform of biodiversity governance, though they have identified several gaps in the principles for NBS, with no explicit link to adaptive management or adaptive governance, effectiveness, uncertainty, multi-stakeholder participation, and temporal scale (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2019). Still, it is worth noting that, in principle, there is a great deal of potential to use NBS as an enabling concept for incorporating novel ecosystems into conservation practice, and potential synergies between the two concepts. There are echoes of the themes in the Anthropocene debate here, where the utilitarian focus of NBS, which sees nature as a tool, can be rightly criticised for being overly simplistic and reinforcing the hubris that created the Anthropocene in the first place. Yet it also fits with the framing of Anthropocene as a potential opportunity for reorienting society on a more sustainable trajectory (Chap. 1). While it might oversell our capacity to solve complex challenges with nature, there is potential merit in reframing nature as a solution rather than focusing solely on its loss, which is precisely what the literature on novel ecosystems calls on us to do. In its international conceptualisations, NBS seem especially promising for allowing a broadening out of what conservation and restoration in the Anthropocene might mean without losing the foundations of these practices. The IUCN’s conception is particularly promising, as it puts forward a case for innovation, but places biodiversity conservation at the heart of new practices and establishes a robust standard for doing so (IUCN 2020). On the surface, NBS also seems to offer both a promising framework of principles for governance reform that allows for novel, hybrid,

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and other highly modified ecosystems and a promising tool for implementing those reforms. The fact that NBS squarely places the focus on the values of nature and reaches beyond ideas about returning to some pre-Anthropocene state is promising in landscapes that have crossed a threshold. However, such ideas rarely adhere to their noble origins, and there has already been a marked departure from how NBS were originally envisioned to their current conception, perhaps in part because of where they have most quickly attracted significant public investment. The EU has sought to position itself as a pioneer in the field of NBS, directing millions of euros towards projects to advance its theoretical foundations and practical implementation (O’Sullivan et  al. 2020). However, NBS have already taken on a very different form so far in Europe than what is outlined in the principles, with biodiversity seemingly taking a back seat to other environmental dimensions (e.g. air quality) and the desire to achieve social and economic goals. There are a number of potential explanations for why the concept of NBS has been transformed in the process of implementation in Europe. First, the shift towards seeing nature as a tool to solve societal challenges to the benefit of both people and biodiversity is only a shift for those who do not see nature as a resource to be shaped by humans. For the EU, biodiversity is characterised as equivalent to the word nature, and it is unreservedly utilitarian in focus, with the EU biodiversity research programme materials noting that ‘ever since humans mastered fire, invented tools, and discovered agriculture, nature has been viewed as a source of strength and growth on which we depend’ (EU Research 2012). It is no surprise then that their definition is also very utilitarian in focus, suggesting that nature can be deployed at will to resolve the challenges of an increasingly urbanised planet: ‘solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions’ (European Commission n.d.). This definition is thought to be roughly equivalent to the IUCN’s definition, but as we shall see, it has led to a number of different interpretations in practice.

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Another reason could be divergent ideas about what constitutes nature and core concepts that were initially thought to comprise NBS, such as restoration. The IUCN suggests NBS represent a ‘subtle yet important shift in perspective’ towards seeing nature as a tool that can be leveraged by humans. The shift might not be so subtle for everyone, and may, in fact, reinforce the view that nature is a tool to be used for human ends for those with different value systems. Again, this raises the issue of framing, as it depends on which aspects of the concept are elevated. While one framing is that NBS are fundamentally about putting biodiversity and nature conservation at the heart of climate adaptation, there is another framing that elevates ‘societal problem-solving’ element. This latter framing aligns with how the concept has been used so far in many cities. Despite its apparent potential to change the way we view the role of biodiversity conservation and restoration in climate adaptation, all concepts are reinterpreted in context. In some places, NBS may simply be a new way to re-frame the many human-oriented conceptions of nature that have long dominated approaches such as landscape planning, green infrastructure, cultural landscapes, and rural development measures, all of which seek to accommodate biodiversity and socio-economic objectives. The fact that NBS have its origins in ecosystem services is also potentially meaningful, in that ecosystem services, particularly in Europe, are framed as a very utilitarian concept that focuses on what nature does for humans (sometimes attaching monetary figures to that value), rather than as a means of delivering benefits to the environment for its own sake (Borie and Hulme 2015; Batavia and Nelson 2017). Though there have been ongoing efforts to address these shortcomings (Davidson 2013) within the EU context, the fact that there is little intact biodiversity left and a long history of use in the region has meant that the utilitarian interpretation of NBS has been unassailable. Beyond these divergent ways of framing nature, the differences between the theory of NBS and their practice in EU may be based in part on their primary emphasis on solving urban challenges. In urban environments lacking in biodiversity, gains are not difficult to achieve. Any introduction of nature in this context is a quantifiable benefit, and EU typologies of NBS tend to focus more on the degree of engineering of biodiversity rather than on the restoration of nature for the benefit of ecosystems

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(Eggermont et al. 2015). The EU has also sought to direct the evaluation and monitoring aspects of NBS, making these elements central to their investment. Crucial in this is the framework for implementing and monitoring NBS that the EU developed through their EKLIPSE mechanism, an approach where they draw on global expertise to respond to a particular research challenge. The EKLIPSE framework that was developed as part of this programme outlines possible benefits across ten challenge areas that can be monitored for impacts (Raymond et al. 2017, b): 1. Climate mitigation and adaptation; 2. Water management; 3. Coastal resilience; 4. Green space management (including enhancing/conserving urban biodiversity); 5. Air/ambient quality; 6. Urban regeneration; 7. Participatory planning and governance; 8. Social justice and social cohesion; 9. Public health and well-being; and 10. Potential for new economic opportunities and green jobs. As is evident from these categories, biodiversity is buried deep in the fourth challenge and, even then, it does not feature prominently. The main focus of these challenge areas is on the benefits directly provided to humans, even for those that are ostensibly environmentally focused (e.g. air-quality improvements provide human well-being benefits). While this is undoubtedly an advance on standard practice in urban areas and has the potential to provide net gains for the environment, it seems a long way from the idea of NBS as a supplement to ecological restoration and ecosystem-based management. All projects, including the Urban GreenUP project, funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, are required to use the EKLIPSE framework to monitor the impacts of various interventions. A key challenge is that the ‘framework’ does not actually provide indicators, but rather ideas about how NBS might positively impact the environment, society, and the economy, which are yet to be substantiated.

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The hope of the NBS projects being funded by the EU is that they will provide that substantiation, as well as a robust proof of concept for NBS in urban areas. Any bit of nature that could deliver on all ten of these challenges would be of enormous benefit to society, even if not centrally focused on biodiversity. There is reason to be sceptical, however, as there is still scant evidence that NBS lives up to its supposed potential (Kabisch et al. 2016). There are reasons to explore NBS as an umbrella concept that both creates a greater range of tools for the sustainability toolkit and has global applicability (Dorst et al. 2019). However, at this early stage, there are reasons to be cautious about some interpretations of the concept in practice, which seem to be largely focused on a new way to green cities. NBS need to offer more than just another way to make places greener if they are to solve the varied challenges mentioned earlier, and they certainly need to be more than a new label for old practices if they are to play a major role in confronting the fundamental drivers of ecological decline that characterise the Anthropocene.

Hope for the Future, or Chimera of Change? Very little has been written about how well the practical implementation of NBS aligns with the principles and aspirations set forth in the IUCN’s international guidelines, or its forthcoming standards (IUCN 2020). Much of the NBS literature is conceptual (Eggermont et  al. 2015; Nesshöver et al. 2017; Cohen-Shacham et al. 2019; Dorst et al. 2019), or it re-badges a greening project as NBS after the fact. Given these problems, such abstractions are of little use in assessing the effectiveness of NBS. It is more useful to consider the practical example offered by the aforementioned Urban GreenUP project, and the literature which has evaluated the extent to which NBS projects in Europe seem to be achieving the lofty objectives. Drawing on the principles of NBS presented earlier and the themes of this chapter, what follows is an attempt to assess the extent to which, in the European context, NBS has delivered in two key areas of aspiration: (1) embedding the principles of nature conservation into interventions, including a focus on landscape scale and enhanced ecological function, and (2) participatory governance built on principles

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of co-production and co-design. I also touch on how NBS could be integrated with other policies and tools to address place-based, specific challenges. Urban GreenUP aims to ‘renature’ urban areas and develop a transferable methodology for implementing NBS in other areas. Most of the investment is in three ‘front-runner’ cities: Valladolid, Spain; Izmir, Turkey; and Liverpool, UK. There are also five ‘follower’ cities which are meant to draw on lessons from these three cities, testing the methodology in a sort of living laboratory model to see if the approach can be replicated in very different contexts. There are two European follower cities (Mantova, Italy; and Ludwigsburg, Germany) and three non-European cities (Chengdu, China; Medellin, Columbia; and Quy Nhon, Vietnam). There are also 18 cities which comprise the project’s ‘network of cities’, the purpose of which is to disseminate knowledge about implementation of NBS outside of the aforementioned cities (Urban GreenUP 2020). Importantly, the project is not fundamentally a research project, but a demonstration project. This means the focus is on developing and implementing a series of NBS ‘interventions’ in several areas of each city, which requires monitoring of conditions before and after these interventions are implemented. The differences between this ‘before and after’ will help us to determine if they have a quantifiable effects across a range of indicators, organised according to the EKLIPSE challenge areas (Table  7.2). The project is currently finalising interventions and embarking on the postintervention monitoring period. This section explores each of the aforementioned three themes, primarily with respect to the Liverpool example, to understand the ways in which this new concept is being implemented. Rather than focusing on how the project itself could improve its practices, the focus here is on what we can learn for broader issues relating to ecosystem transformation and reform of biodiversity governance. A core principle of NBS is that they should embed both the principles and norms of nature conservation into interventions, including a focus not just on biodiversity per se but also on contributions to landscape-­ scale conservation and enhancement of ecosystem function (Cohen-­ Shacham et al. 2019). The project has published a number of reports that are informative in terms of understanding how NBS are conceptualised in urban contexts, how they might be implemented, and what the barriers to their implementation are. From this it seems that NBS can include

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Table 7.2  Key performance indicators for the Liverpool Urban GreenUP project Type of indicator

KPI

Challenge 1: Climate change mitigation and adaptation Environmental Tonnes of carbon stored in vegetation (physical) Environmental Heatwave risk (physical) Environmental Projected maximum surface temperature reduction (physical) Economic indicators Economic value of carbon sequestration by vegetation (benefits) Environmental Increased opportunity for species movement in (biological) response to climate change as a result of NBS Challenge 2: Water management Environmental Run-off coefficient in relation to precipitation (physical) quantities Environmental Nutrient abatement and abatement of pollutants (chemical) Economic Volume of water removed from water treatment system Economic Volume of water slowed down entering sewer system Economic Economic benefit of reduction of storm water to be treated in public sewer system Challenge 4: Green space management Social Accessibility of urban green spaces for population Social Assessment of typology, functionality, and benefits provided Environmental Increase in density and seasonal spread of floral (biological) resources for pollinators Environmental Increase in plant species richness and functional (biological) diversity as a result of NBS Environmental Increase in insectivore (e.g. bat) abundance and use of (biological) corridors for movement as a result of NBS Environmental Pollinator species increase (biological) Social indicators Increased connectivity to existing GI (benefits) Challenge 5: Air quality Environmental Annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (chemical) Environmental Trends in levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Sulphur (chemical) oxides (Sox) Economic Value of air quality improvements (continued)

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Table 7.2 (continued) Type of indicator

KPI

Challenge 6: Urban regeneration Social Diversity of NBS (land use and functionality) Economic Savings in energy use due to improved green infrastructure Challenge 7: Participatory planning and governance Social Social learning concerning NBS Social Perceptions of citizens on urban nature Social Engagement with NBS interventions Social Crime reduction Challenge 9: Public health and well-being Social Perceptions of health and quality of life Social Increase in walking and cycling in and around areas of interventions Challenge 10: Potential of economic opportunities and green jobs Economic Changes in mean house prices/rental markets Economic Number of jobs created; gross value added Economic Additional business rates Economic Job creation, increased footfall and spend in the areas of interventions

dozens, if not hundreds, of different types of interventions that go from the building and street scale (e.g. green walls and roofs, planting trees, pollinator verges) to the city scale (e.g. floodable parks) to the regional scale (e.g. green corridors connecting parks) (Urban GreenUP 2018a). While there is an effort to highlight the importance of biodiversity, for example, by encouraging the use of local species and a diverse mix of species, the vast majority of the interventions are at smaller scales, and there is a clear focus on construction materials, urban design principles, and ‘greening’ hard surfaces rather than on nature conservation principles. The types of NBS that are described in this ‘catalogue’ are carried through to the Liverpool project, where most of the 40 NBS interventions are small scale, such as tree plantings in containers, floating habitats, pollinator verges, small-scale sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs), rain gardens, cycling paths, and green walls. They are spread across three demonstration areas that include two areas in the city centre (the business improvement district and the Baltic Triangle, a revitalised creative quarter that includes former warehouses) and an area in and around the city’s biggest urban park, Sefton Park. Although some

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interventions seek to improve existing green space or its connectivity, the interventions are largely disconnected. A key reason for this is that Liverpool is a post-industrial, fairly compact city that is already fully developed, with a great deal of ‘grey’ infrastructure that is difficult to green because of issues such as property ownership and unfavourable conditions (e.g. narrow pavements, underground utilities, etc.). The interventions were ultimately focused on areas where there was opportunity and willing partnerships. Despite the EKLIPSE framework downplaying biodiversity indicators, the Liverpool project made a concerted effort to include biodiversity indicators in its monitoring (Table 7.2) (Urban GreenUP 2018c). Both biodiversity and governance indicators are highlighted in this table, but all indicators are shown to demonstrate just how wide-ranging the challenges NBS are expected to address, even when they are small-scale and dispersed across a wide area. Whether they will deliver on these promises remains to be seen, and the reliance primarily on novel habitats such as green roofs and walls as NBS in urban areas may make sense due to space constraints, but their conservation value is contentious (Williams et al. 2014). Though they are likely better than brick or concrete facades for a range of reasons (e.g. energy efficiency), there are still a number of unknowns. For example, it is as yet unproven that they offer similar benefits to adding on-ground habitats (e.g. parks), and they can be an expensive investment that require long-term maintenance, so their cost-effectiveness has been questioned (Perini and Rosasco 2013). In terms of biodiversity, greening areas and adding new habitat will clearly provide net gains. Looking more broadly at NBS projects, there are scant assessments to date that looked at the contribution of NBS to biodiversity, other than the case studies provided as examples in the NBS guidance documents. A recent review looked at 199 projects in Europe that had goals to conserve nature, restore nature, and to ‘find ways to thrive through harnessing nature’s contribution to people’ (Xie and Bulkeley 2020). They found many of these that had goals and implementation activities explicitly mentioned biodiversity-related attributes, but it is worth questioning whether this was a re-badging exercise for taking care of parks that already existed. Most of the projects favoured what were called ‘ecosystem based’

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approaches, but that idea is not quite in line with what would be envisioned by most ecological restoration and conservation projects that are ecosystem based. Though the results were viewed as positive, it was a desktop review of metrics of success that indicated quite basic targets, for example, aiming to conserve parks that already existed or planting vegetation in existing green spaces (Xie and Bulkeley 2020). Although undoubtedly an improvement in terms of net biodiversity, such metrics focus on outputs rather than outcomes, which say very little about the impact of the interventions or their potential for longer-term success (Wallace 2003; Howe and Milner-Gulland 2012). There are also several key issues that emerge in looking at how NBS are being implemented. First, there is the question of what ‘counts’ as an NBS. In an urban context, there are already a number of similar concepts, such as green infrastructure, which are already thought to offer a range of benefits. If NBS are to provide benefits for biodiversity and climate resilience, beyond just adding ‘green stuff’ to landscapes where there is none, then there is a need to think more seriously about what NBS actually are and what makes them different from other approaches to greening. The IUCN has done this in their work, but the implementation of NBS in Europe has been so different from these ecosystem-based origins that it is difficult to compare the two. Though the fact that NBS are an umbrella concept is considered a positive attribute, they are in danger of meaning everything and nothing at the same time, as everything from a few street trees in a container to restoring coastal wetlands could be called an NBS. The devil, as usual, is in the details. The second issue, which flows from this, is that in Europe, many of the NBS interventions do not leverage, restore, or enhance existing ecosystems to address societal challenges. Most are a hybrid of traditional and ecological engineering approaches or constructed ecosystems, which tend to be called ‘designed’ ecosystems in the novel ecosystems literature. They have thus far proven to be very expensive interventions. Given their ‘designer’ status, there are also reasonable questions to be asked about whether many of the current NBS meet the IUCN’s fifth principle, that is, they should maintain biological and cultural diversity and the ability of ecosystems to evolve over time. This is perhaps understandable in many cases. Developing self-sustaining and resilient ecosystems is a tall

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order in urban environments where human impacts are constant. This presents perhaps an even bigger economic problem than a nature conservation problem, however, particularly in the case of cities such as Liverpool, which has experienced years of austerity and the de-funding of green space management (Mell 2020). Finally, the principle of landscape scale interventions is essential, from the perspective of both biodiversity and resolving the many and varied challenges in the EKLIPSE framework; yet, it is difficult to achieve in many urban areas. It may be reasonable in newer cities, as in the case of Izmir, but in older, industrial, and highly urbanised areas like Liverpool, it can cost thousands of euros to undertake surveys just to see where a few trees can be planted—an ostensibly simple process that is deeply complicated on account of the city’s long history of urban development, narrow streets, and lack of pre-existing green space in some areas that can provide anchor points for larger interventions. This example of ‘squeezing’ small NBS interventions, such as the planting of trees and the creation of floating habitats into urbanised spaces, shows just how challenging it can be to realise the principles of NBS in practice, even with the best of intentions. While the level of investment in NBS across Europe is laudable, information gained from the many projects across Europe should take the issue of whether the level of investment in NBS, as conceived at present, is commensurate with the level of benefit well beyond the life of these projects. They should also be compared to alternatives within cities that could equally enhance biodiversity, climate resilience, and more, such as improved funding for the management of parks. If one takes the concept of NBS outside of cities and into areas with more space, however, many of these issues become less complicated and the concept is perhaps more promising. The management of novel ecosystems or, as discussed in Chap. 5, renewed approaches to the management of cultural landscapes could very much meet the principles outlined in IUCN guidance whilst also addressing a number of challenges outlined throughout this book. For example, one of the contentious elements of novel ecosystems is that their restoration to historical baselines would require intensive investment of time and resources. Managing novel ecosystems to meet the principles of NBS as described earlier, however, could be significantly more cost-effective

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than efforts to return to their ‘ideal’ state, whilst offering substantive biodiversity benefits. Moreover, the fact that novel ecosystems are meant to be self-organising and resilient should also lend itself to alignment with the NBS principles and standards. The NBS framing could also help structure discussion about how to develop new goals that focus on environmental, social, and economic challenges people care about. It is evident that improved management of most novel ecosystems could bring benefits across a range of those challenge areas, and the indicators being used by NBS projects in Europe, though imperfect, do provide insights into new metrics that might be used to define ‘success’ in highly modified and transforming landscapes. All of this, however, must consider how NBS projects are governed. It is a positive step forward that the NBS projects in Europe are asked to ‘co-produce’ and ‘co-design’ NBS projects, and this is also a major feature of the NBS literature (c.f. Frantzeskaki and Kabisch 2016; Dorst et al. 2019). As discussed at several points in previous chapters, the principles of co-production can enhance adaptive capacity and are central to good knowledge governance. One of the reasons that co-production has featured so heavily is that NBS are meant to be place-based, locally adapted solution (Pauleit et al. 2017; Dorst et al. 2019) that are also developed and implemented in transparent, participatory processes (CohenShacham et al. 2019). The issue of co-production and co-design has been impeded in part by the way these projects have been funded so far. The investment in NBS in Europe is admirable in that it seeks to test whether NBS actually lives up to its promises when implemented in the real world, which will do a great deal to advance the concept. However, the fact that these are funded with stringent conditions that inhibit flexibility, place-based development of solutions, and other adaptive management principles can significantly limit capacity to adhere to co-production principles. Projects funded by the European Commission generally have to outline what they are going to do before they do it; additionally, although there is room for minor deviations from these plans, most substantive deviations require a fairly involved process of seeing an amendment to the grant. What this means in practice is that partners on a project need to design a series of NBS interventions before they receive the funding—that is to

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say, before they have done a full diagnosis of the areas that are in most need, and before they are able to fully explore issues around feasibility (e.g. where there are willing partners and whether they can align with other NBS or urban greening projects). This process not only precludes meaningful public and stakeholder engagement before the project is implemented, but it also precludes such meaningful engagement during the project, as most of the decisions have already been made and are codified in the funding agreement. In the case of Liverpool, this meant the Liverpool City Council and Mersey Forest, the two leading partners in the project, had to undertake most of the groundwork before funding had been acquired, choosing the demonstration areas, scoping the interventions, and identifying potential willing partners without the ‘co-­ production’ and ‘co-design’ elements that are meant to be so central to NBS. It also encourages choices that are not necessarily ideal in terms of the ‘problem-solving’ aspects of NBS. When conditions are attached to successful implementation, it is reasonable to choose places where there are more favourable social, economic, and environmental conditions for the interventions. This ultimately meant choosing areas that had more green space (e.g. Sefton Park) or where few people actually live (e.g. the city centre). Whilst rational and valuable for providing proof of concept, it does undermine what NBS are meant to do. Liverpool is one of the most socio-economically deprived cities in the UK, and it also has green space that is inequitably distributed, with the most economically deprived areas of the city having less access to green space and lower quality green spaces (Urban GreenUP 2017). Most notably, the north of the city was not included in the project, where there is a need for both a green space and the presence of a number of challenges that could be addressed via NBS. Allowing flexibility on where and what can be implemented would not only allow more tailored, potentially more effective, solutions, but also good governance. Directing investment to areas that are not in the most need raises issues of fairness, and the lack of engagement in where and what would be implemented raises issues of accountability and legitimacy (Chap. 3, Table 3.1). Whilst there were a few consultation opportunities and the partners sought to engage community groups and other stakeholders in the design of a number of interventions, the project was limited in how many collaborative design opportunities it could offer.

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Returning to this idea of co-production, for co-production to occur, projects should: 1 . Situate the process in a particular context, place, or issue. 2. Explicitly recognise the multiple ways of knowing and doing. 3. Articulate clearly defined, shared, and meaningful goals that are related to the challenge at hand. 4. Allow for ongoing learning among actors, active engagement, and frequent interactions (Norström et al. 2020). While the project certainly aimed to tailor the NBS interventions to the Liverpool context, this was constrained by the need to choose which aspects of that context would be the focus before the project was even underway. This is not problematic if there are clear opportunities to make substantial adjustments based on the other three principles, but these opportunities are institutionally constrained. These constraints make realising the other three principles nearly impossible, as one cannot develop shared goals when the goals are already established, and multiple forms of knowledge cannot be meaningfully integrated other than as an input to monitoring or as feedback in consultation. Regarding the fourth principle, there were limited, defined points of interaction with the community and other stakeholders, and a general reluctance to engage with the community. This reluctance was for a number of reasons, including past negative experiences with engaging the community, but also because there was concern about building expectations that could not be delivered on under the time and financial constraints. Moreover, although many of the interventions might not be considered particularly innovative in a global sense, for Liverpool and the other Urban GreenUP cities, implementing even the smallest of interventions faced a range of political, technical, legal, and social and cultural barriers (Urban GreenUP 2018b). It could take months of negotiation, design, testing, and legal agreements just to get a few trees planted or a green wall built, and installation could present further challenges. Monitoring such small-scale interventions is equally challenging, and it remains to be seen whether there will be demonstrable impacts across many of the indicators, particularly given the fact that the UK went into lockdown during the

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COVID-19 pandemic, which provided its own extensive improvements in air quality and other indicators that could be much more significant than any of the Urban GreenUP NBS. The nature and extent of these barriers draw into sharp focus the difference between the theoretical promise of NBS and the practical impediments to achieving real change in the way things are done. Increasingly NBS are presented as a force for radical change in urban environments that can bring nature back to cities, fight pollution, build resilience to climate change, and resolve a wide range of social, economic, and democratic challenges. While there are some promising results, there is a need to move beyond the rhetoric and establish conditions for genuine co-­ production and co-design. This could create the conditions for learning well beyond any single project, and it could build adaptive capacity as well (see Chap. 3, Domain 5). In addition, if NBS are to be mainstreamed, they need to be built into policy (Zwierzchowska et al. 2019). This could not only alleviate some of the institutional barriers, but it could also establish standards for what constitutes NBS and how they should be governed. At present, much of the NBS being implemented amounts to standard urban greening projects. Though they will likely bring improvements on a number of fronts, to advance the concept, they need to be scaled up and, ideally, aligned with international principles to genuinely deliver innovative solutions with nature at their core. Beyond these urban examples, there is perhaps much greater potential to use NBS as a means to reframe the management of novel ecosystems. The principles and standards established by the IUCN could provide a new way of thinking about what benefits these highly modified ecosystems could provide, and directing attention to resolving place-based challenges align with good governance principles. If NBS is to be a useful tool in addressing many of the concerns discussed through this book, it would need to take its foundations in nature conservation more seriously. As with all conceptual panaceas, NBS offers a vision that is easily embraced by a variety of actors for a variety of reasons. As the process of implementation discussed here indicates, however, these bespoke concerns can eclipse—and have eclipsed—some of the more idealistic goals of NBS. This does not mean, however, that NBS as a concept should be abandoned. No less than in the case of the current debate over fire

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management regimes in Australia, further engagement in NBS, both conceptually and practically, offers us a chance to refine our goals, make necessary contextual adjusts to implementation, and, above all else, reframe our discussions and expectations. Poised as we are in the wake of the COVID pandemic at what many see as a potentially transformative moment in environmental discussions, the need for such reflection—and with it the demand for new, more pragmatic notions of implementation—is more urgent than ever.

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Lockwood, M. et al. (2014) ‘Biodiversity governance and social-ecological system dynamics: Transformation in the Australian Alps’, Ecology and Society, 19(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-06393-190213. Maes, J. and Jacobs, S. (2017) ‘Nature-Based Solutions for Europe’s Sustainable Development’, Conservation Letters, 10(1), pp.  121–124. doi: https://doi. org/10.1111/conl.12216. McDonald, J. et al. (2019) ‘Adaptation pathways for conservation law and policy’, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Wiley-Blackwell, 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.555. McIlroy, T. (2019) ‘“Turn neglect into action”: Mayors issue climate warning’, Financial Review, 15 November. Available at: https://www.afr.com/politics/ federal/turn-neglect-into-action-mayors-issue-climate-warning20191114-p53aje (Accessed: 29 June 2020). Mell, I. (2020) ‘The impact of austerity on funding green infrastructure: A DPSIR evaluation of the Liverpool Green & Open Space Review (LG&OSR), UK’, Land Use Policy. Elsevier, 91, p. 104284. Melo, R.  T. (2020) ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire…Did We? Analyzing Why California Cannot Seem to Extinguish Its Worsening Wildfire Problem’, Villanova Environmental Law Journal, 31(1), p. 5. Mitchell, M. et  al. (2015) ‘Scenario analysis for biodiversity conservation: A social-ecological system approach in the Australian Alps’, Journal of Environmental Management, 150. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2014.11.013. Morgan, G. W. et al. (2020) ‘Prescribed burning in south-eastern Australia: history and future directions’, Australian Forestry. Taylor and Francis Ltd., 83(1), pp. 4–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00049158.2020.1739883. Morton, D. C. et al. (2013) ‘Satellite-based assessment of climate controls on US burned area’, Biogeosciences. Copernicus GmbH, 10(1), pp.  247–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-10-247-2013. Nesshöver, C. et  al. (2017) ‘The science, policy and practice of nature-based solutions: An interdisciplinary perspective’, Science of the Total Environment. Elsevier B.V., pp.  1215–1227. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. scitotenv.2016.11.106. Nobre, C. A. et al. (2016) ‘Land-use and climate change risks in the amazon and the need of a novel sustainable development paradigm’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(39), pp. 10759–10768. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605516113.

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8 Conclusion: Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal

The Anthropocene is more than the name for a period in Earth’s history. It is also a provocation and a call to action, asking us to consider not only what is happening to the biosphere, but also to reflect on what it means to conserve biodiversity in this new epoch, what constitutes success, and where we should go from here. The dramatic changes to the climate system has led some to suggest that we can never go home again (Chapman 2011) and that we are witnessing the death of restoration (Light 2012). The loss of meaning in the term ‘biodiversity’ has prompted some to suggest we should see the end of biodiversity conservation (Bowman 1998a, b), and there are signs that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event (Barnosky et al. 2011). Taken together with the narratives of grief and loss explored in the first chapter, a dire picture of life on this new human planet is painted. It is perhaps no surprise that, faced with such a bleak picture, deliberate management of novel ecosystems can look like the final nail in the coffin of conservation and restoration, at least as we understand these practices. This, however, is only one narrative, born of a particular point of view and a particular form of framing—powerful devices that underpin our understanding of the Anthropocene and which,

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if left unchallenged, will keep us fixed in place whilst the world continues to change around us.

Narrating Novelty Narratives and framing feature in every chapter of this book for a simple reason—they are fundamental to informing how we think about, talk about, and act in conservation. The science of novel ecosystems, ecosystem transformation, and also of governance can be framed in different ways and wielded to tell different stories of what the future has in store and what we should do about it. So who, then, are the heroes, victims, and villains in these stories? The answer, of course, depends on your perspective. In the case of fire, for example, our heroes might be those who can protect communities from increased burning, or, conversely, the scientists who question the status quo and seek to protect biodiversity and communities. There are several important lessons to be drawn from this discussion of framing. The first is that everyone who has a stake in landscape change, whether it is the people who live in landscapes, policymakers, advocates, or scientists, has a narrative. It is vital when considering these opinions, therefore, to exercise caution when considering what elements of a story are being elevated and examine the values, assumptions, and knowledge that have shaped the way that problems are framed, what solutions are advocated, and who is cast as hero, victim, or villain. The second lesson is that narratives, despite their problematic nature in regard to objectivity, should not be dismissed. Rather, they should be examined—whether they be about novel ecosystems, cultural landscapes, fire management, NBS, or any other topic—in order to understand what people believe is important, as it is only by understanding the values that have shaped these narratives that a true discussion about the real sticking points that matter to people can be had. This discussion, moreover, can then be widened out into an examination of options for transformation in the other domains (e.g. shifting baselines, establishing new objectives, adopting new policies). Without understanding narratives, we will never comprehend how to change them.

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It is also important to remember that framing is dynamic, and it is a social endeavour. As the discussion around framing contests highlighted, we can both adopt our own personal frames to accommodate the norms of the organisations and professions in which we work and employ framing strategically in an effort to change narratives. This can have the desired effect of changing the dominant narrative, as it did in the Tasmanian Midlands, or it can lead to delayed action when a new framing gains momentum, but there is still significant uncertainty, as in the case of fire management. We also know that narratives can be useful in helping us to imagine alternative futures and fostering transformative change, particularly with respect to contested and uncertain futures, but this notion needs further research (Wyborn et al. 2020). This links to another important lesson on narratives in this book: a changed narrative, even when leveraged to imagine alternative futures, is no guarantee of change. Both Australian examples demonstrate this, as the research involved narrative scenario methodologies, which were parallel to evident changes in narratives within the governance system. However, just as with knowledge, if the institutional conditions limit the potential to act on those new narratives (e.g. through narrow or conflicting objectives), then efforts to change governance can be thwarted. This highlights the important interactions between Domains 1, 3, and 5. There is potential for the concept of institutional work strategies to help strategically bolster narratives when change is required, as institutional work strategies ultimately work on all three pillars of institutions (cognitive, normative, and regulatory), so they may be able to change both informal narratives and formal framing in policy. The connections between institutional work and adaptive capacity are only just being made, but there is promise for governance transformation in this work.

Knowledge, Capacity, and Tools for Change The fact that uncertainty can inhibit changes to dominant narratives and delay decisions is particularly important for the topics in this book. There is uncertainty involved in future conditions for all of the themes—novel ecosystems, cultural ecosystems in novel contexts, biodiversity and

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climate change, and biodiversity and wildfire. Although experts are often comfortable with the idea of uncertainty, they also are cautious in taking decisions where the alternatives are not proven. Policymakers tend to have different reasons for struggling with uncertainty, primarily because their professional pressures are different. They prefer problems that are structured, and thus prefer simplified conceptions of both environmental challenges and solutions. In both cases, this can actually make complex, uncertain challenges more complex, by neglecting the perspectives, interests, and contributions of many important stakeholders, which can lead to more conflict and gridlock (Hisschemöller and Hoppe 1995). There are several avenues for confronting these issues and building adaptive capacity. The first is the recurring theme around improving knowledge governance. When there is an identified need to re-orient governance towards a different future, new approaches in conservation may be met with some resistance because they conflict with prevailing rules, knowledge, and values. The concept of future-oriented conservation discussed in Chap. 7 brings in the idea that we need to more explicitly reflect on not only what those prevailing features are, but also whose knowledge is acquired and used (and by whom) and how values and rules shape responses to that knowledge. There are calls to improve knowledge governance by integrating multiple forms of knowledge (e.g. from research, practice, local people) and drawing on diverse networks of actors to better align conservation practice to the social, political, and ecological context in which it takes place. The need for this opening up is a near universal theme in the literature on transformation and governance, and it is slowly becoming a feature of many standards, including those for conservation, restoration, and NBS. So why is it so difficult? There are many reasons for this that were explored in this book, including the fact that experts often assume that they know what nonexperts think, despite the fact that this is not necessarily the case. There is also potential discomfort among conservationists with the idea that incorporating diverse knowledge will weaken environmental protections, or at least lead to the incorporation of concepts that may not put biodiversity front and centre. In addition to these uncomfortable prospects, there are also a number of unknowns. First, how does one

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foster better knowledge governance? If there are barriers in the formal and informal rules and conventions that affect the ways knowledge is created, accessed, shared, and deployed (Van Kerkhoff 2014), it is not always clear how to overcome them. This has been a central focus in governance and transformation research, but still not fully resolved. Again, institutional work strategies are thought to be central in fostering better knowledge governance. Targeting reforms towards institutional impediments to action, creating conditions for experimentation and knowledge sharing, and other targeted reforms can help, but they need to be based on a context-specific diagnosis (Clement et al. 2016). In the case of NBS, for example, it may be possible to amend the funding model to support more effective co-­ production, but there is no guarantee that this will occur. One solution may be to more concretely integrate principles of co-production into guidance and standards, though this still leaves questions about whether that would facilitate change. Moreover, it is one thing to incorporate more knowledge, but more knowledge does not necessarily mean better decisions or outcomes. One potential way forward is to better integrate research from disciplines that lie outside of biodiversity research (Wyborn et al. 2020), as this might provide the novel insights needed to grapple with the increasingly unwieldy knowledge challenges of the Anthropocene. There is also value in making better use of tools that can help foster the areas of learning and anticipatory capacities (Chap. 3, Domain 4). It is one thing to reach agreement that we need to deal with many of the issues associated with novel ecosystems, ecosystem transformation, and climate change—but even if that agreement is reached, this is only the beginning. Both the governance and ecological literatures draw attention to the need for ongoing learning, including practices of feedback, self-reflection, and complex systems thinking. Despite several decades of scholarship on these issues, in practice, it can be difficult to cultivate these practices. Sometimes there are institutional barriers, but it can also be a matter of organisational or professional cultures, such as the tendency to favour precautionary approaches when working with incomplete information (Chap. 6). The concept of anticipatory capacities (Chap. 3) could prove useful here, as it considers ways to build capacities in foresight, engagement, and integration (Guston 2014).

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Unlike with so many other areas of governance, there are a number of concrete tools that have been suggested. A tool that has become increasingly common in conservation is structured decision-making, and this has already been proposed as a means to explicitly integrate not just novel ecosystems but also the values that underpin conservation decisions (Backstrom et al. 2018). The approach focuses on teasing out the scientific, social, and economic aspects of decisions, which can reveal both individual and societal values (Gregory et  al. 2012). Although this is often used as a management, rather than a governance, tool, the framework Backstrom and colleagues developed could inspire a similar approach to exploring governance reform in a structured way. There is even more potential for developing anticipatory capacities if such structured approaches are combined with more exploratory tools. One such tool is to develop anticipatory models that allow for consideration of the complex dynamics of SESs (Preiser and Woermann 2019). The Transformative Adaptation Research Alliance has also developed something called the adaptation pathways approach, which ‘allows for sequencing of adaptation decisions and actions, revealing trajectories of change, identifying actions that may prove maladaptive and providing a means to enable experimentation, co-production and learning’ (CSIRO 2020). It has developed a framework for applying this approach in a way that focuses on the concept of values, rules, and knowledge and has presented examples of how this can help to understand barriers and enabling factors, as well as identifying and taking advantage of these pathways (Colloff et al. 2017; Lavorel et al. 2019). This is also worth exploring in relation to the concept of NBS, as its notion of adaptation services offers a similar idea, but perhaps with a slightly less utilitarian framing. There are also a number of approaches to scenario planning, which is ideal for exploring possible futures because it allows for creative visioning and unconstrained thinking in times of uncertainty (Chermack 2004). This can be combined with models of the key drivers in SESs to explore how governance can be reformed in ways that modify these drivers. This approach was trialled in the Australian case studies discussed earlier (Mitchell et al. 2015, 2016, b; Carter et al. 2017). Though it proved to be a useful method, it can still be challenging to get all stakeholders— whether experts, decision-makers, the public, or others—to think beyond

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what is probable or most likely to the full range of possibilities. Scenario planning has elsewhere shown to have potential to overcome impediments to adaptation and transformation; however, it needs further development to overcome the tendency to focus on present roles, responsibilities, and priorities (Gray et al. 2020). Research examining how to integrate foresight processes into decision-making aims to help in this respect and could potentially support more imaginative thinking. Scenario planning methodologies certainly offer particular advantages when grappling with the novel issues described in earlier chapters, as they offer a way to envision what might happen if new baselines, metrics, objectives, and concepts were integrated into biodiversity policy and management.

 he Culture of Conservation T and the Conservation of Culture One of the most prevalent themes in this research is that the unprecedented changes of the Anthropocene require us to reflect on why and how we are ‘doing’ conservation and search for ways to more effectively deal with the novel context in which we find ourselves. This conversation is much more explicit in the novel ecosystems literature than it is in the literature on cultural landscapes, but the conversation is no less important. Whether the primary goal is to conserve intact biodiversity, enhance the functions and values of novel ecosystems, or protect culturally valued features of the landscape alongside biodiversity, there is still an urgent need to confront novelty. There is an evident need to consider the issue of cultural severance, and whether we want to try to mimic the conditions that created cultural landscapes through management activities and renew the economic and social conditions that support these landscapes, or re-imagine what these landscapes might look like in the future. It is here where there is even greater crossover between the future of cultural landscapes and novel ecosystems. Discussions about how to reform governance in these landscapes could also benefit from bringing in ideas about rewilding and NBS (e.g. natural flood management), particularly as these concepts may offer a more positive framing.

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The issue of baselines has always been a vexed one in the novel ecosystems literature, but there are clearly signs of shifts on this front. There was quite widespread agreement amongst the experts surveyed for this book on the need to modify baselines; however, many also said that historical baselines are not less relevant, even under changing climatic conditions in an already changed world. In-depth qualitative research on this issue would be useful, but it would need to link explicitly to specific contexts to better understand what is driving these perceptions. The concept of Anthropocene baselines for novel ecosystems (Kopf et  al. 2015) offers a potentially useful concept that could allow for a more nuanced consideration of baselines, as it offers explicit criteria for distinguishing between different ecosystem types, which would link to different ‘principle management interventions.’ For example, novel ecosystems could have Anthropocene baselines, which would then focus management on ‘ecosystem stewardship limited to meaningful interventions that foster social–ecological sustainability and maintain desirable attributes of biodiversity, irrespective of historical precedence’ (Kopf et al. 2015, p. 803). The authors suggest relatively intact ecosystems could maintain historical baselines and conventional approaches, though I would suggest this would need to integrate considerations of climate change in other ways (Chap. 7). Although the authors only explore the integration of novel and hybrid ecosystems, it is a concept that could be expanded to cover cultural landscapes. NBS and similar ecosystem service-based concepts could potentially be integrated into principle management interventions to complement traditional approaches.

Assumptions, Principles, and Context There are a number of assumptions that still need to be tested, many of which are implicit in the research outlined throughout the book. There are assumptions about what the public wants or values, what experts will support or what they will resist, what should be protected, what success looks like, and what will happen if we allow the ‘end of tradition’, whether that be of conservation traditions or cultural traditions. There are also assumptions about what attributes of governance are important, what

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changes are required, and what form of governance is ‘best’. Many of these assumptions are untested; however, this is not without consequence. It is not enough to say that the public wants something because it is established in policy. It is not enough to say that we need ‘deep leverage’ and fundamental shifts in economies and societal values on the assumption that this will help us get there. In all these instances, our assumptions need to be tested, and they need to be linked to particular contexts. A key lesson to be drawn from this book’s study of various regions is that though the Anthropocene is a global challenge, its solutions must be context-specific. With respect to novel ecosystems, it is possible that the debates expressed in the literature would be quite different than how such debates would play out in context. What constitutes novelty in a cultural landscape is highly variable, depending on context, and what is required to address cultural severance also varies. Chapter 6 presented the idea that, without context-specific details and information, there is a danger that expressed preferences are more like expert opinion and not judgement. With respect to fire, there is a national conversation about prescribed burning and many state policies are blanket prescriptions, but fire regimes are necessarily highly dependent on ecosystem type. Concepts such as NBS and its requirement for co-production have, at their core, an expressed commitment to be place-based and locally adapted. Equally important is that the principles of accountability, fairness, and legitimacy are often linked to context-specific considerations (Table 3.1). Legitimacy, for example, is earned through the acceptance of stakeholders, and often this is through long association with a particular place and demonstrable commitment to that place. Fairness requires respect and attentiveness to stakeholders’ views and knowledge, rather than assuming what those views are because they are the views elsewhere, or treating them as passive recipients of information. For those in authority to be accountable, local actors need to able to keep them in check. Any effort to provide a blueprint for governance reform would fall into the same trap as other prescriptions, whilst also neglecting that the very idea of fit-­ for-­purpose governance is to examine governance systems in their context.

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Reform, Reinvention, and Renewal If taken with a certain narrative, a particular frame, and a specific value system, there is one stark conclusion to be drawn from the preceding pages—novel ecosystems are a symbol of our failure of stewardship, framed as degraded or artificial ecosystems so impacted by humans that there is no going back. They are a visible demonstration that we have reached the end of nature. Although dramatic, this picture gets to the heart of something that, after decades of research and observation, we now have to accept. Many landscapes and ecosystems have irreversibly changed, and many practices will need to adapt. Viewed through a different frame that acknowledges the reality of change, novel ecosystems are not monuments to a natural world we have lost. Rather, they are simply different types of ecosystems that will continue to provide demonstrable benefits for people and nature for centuries to come if we manage them to foster those benefits. Put simply, novel ecosystems are symbols not of failure and grief, but of hope and renewal. This notion is presented here as both a conclusion and a provocation in the hope that acceptance of this reality will lead to renewal, reform, and reinvention. The paths to this future will be riven with obstacles and complexity. As custodians of the planet in the Anthropocene, however, it is incumbent on us to meet these challenges head-on by acknowledging our failures, reassessing our assumptions, and adapting constructively to a changing world.

References Backstrom, A. C. et al. (2018) ‘Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16(2), pp. 109–117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1769. Barnosky, A.  D. et  al. (2011) ‘Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?’, Nature. Nature Publishing Group, pp.  51–57. doi: https://doi. org/10.1038/nature09678. Bowman, D. (1998a) ‘Death of biodiversity-the urgent need for global ecology’, Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters. JSTOR, 7, pp. 237–240.

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Bowman, D. M. J. S. (1998b) ‘The impact of Aboriginal landscape burning on the Australian biota’, New Phytologist. Wiley-Blackwell, 140(3), pp. 385–410. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8137.1998.00289.x. Carter, O. et al. (2017) ‘Mapping Scenario Narratives: A Technique to Enhance Landscape-scale Biodiversity Planning’, Conservation and Society, 15(2), pp. 179–188. doi: https://doi.org/10.4103/cs.cs_15_121. Chapman, P. M. (2011) ‘Global climate change means never going home again’, Marine Pollution Bulletin, pp.  2269–2270. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. marpolbul.2011.08.031. Chermack, T.  J. (2004) ‘Improving decision-making with scenario planning’, Futures, 36(3), pp. 295–309. Clement, S., Moore, S.  A. and Lockwood, M. (2016) ‘Letting the managers manage: Analyzing capacity to conserve biodiversity in a cross-border protected area network’, Ecology and Society, 21(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.5751/ ES-08171-210339. Colloff, M. J., Lavorel, S., et al. (2017) ‘Transforming conservation science and practice for a postnormal world’, Conservation Biology, p. online. doi: https:// doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12912. CSIRO (2020) Core Concepts: Transformative Adaptation Research Alliance. Available at: https://research.csiro.au/tara/core-concepts/ (Accessed: 1 July 2020). Gray, S. et  al. (2020) ‘Strengthening coastal adaptation planning through scenario analysis: A beneficial but incomplete solution’, Marine Policy. Elsevier Ltd, 111, p.  102391. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. marpol.2016.04.031. Gregory, R. et  al. (2012) Structured decision making: a practical guide to environmental management choices. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. Guston, D. H. (2014) ‘Understanding “anticipatory governance”’, Social Studies of Science, 44(2), pp.  218–242. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/03063 12713508669. Hisschemöller, M. and Hoppe, R. (1995) ‘Coping with intractable controversies: The case for problem structuring in policy design and analysis’, Knowledge and Policy, 8(4), pp. 40–60. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02832229. Van Kerkhoff, L. (2014) ‘Knowledge governance for sustainable development: a review’, Challenges in sustainability, 1(2), pp. 82–93. Kopf, R.  K. et  al. (2015) ‘Anthropocene Baselines: Assessing Change and Managing Biodiversity in Human-Dominated Aquatic Ecosystems’, BioScience, 65(8), pp. 798–811. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biv092.

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Lavorel, S. et al. (2019) ‘Mustering the power of ecosystems for adaptation to climate change’, Environmental Science and Policy, 92(July 2018), pp. 87–97. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.11.010. Light, A. (2012) ‘The death of restoration?’, in Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 105–121. Mitchell, M. et  al. (2015) ‘Scenario analysis for biodiversity conservation: A social-ecological system approach in the Australian Alps’, Journal of Environmental Management, 150. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2014.11.013. Mitchell, M., Lockwood, M., Moore, S. A. and Clement, S. (2016) ‘Building systems-based scenario narratives for novel biodiversity futures in an agricultural landscape’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 145. doi: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.09.003. Mitchell, M., Lockwood, M., Moore, S. A., Clement, S., et al. (2016) ‘Using scenario planning to assess governance reforms for enhancing biodiversity outcomes’, Land Use Policy, 50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j. landusepol.2015.10.020. Preiser, R. and Woermann, M. (2019) ‘Complexity, philosophy and ethics’, in Galaz, V. (ed.) Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 38–62. Wyborn, C. et al. (2020) Research and action agenda for sustaining diverse and just futures for life on Earth.

Glossary

Actors 

This word can be used to refer to individuals, governments, and organisations. It generally focuses on those who either contribute to a problem, such as biodiversity loss, or to those who have the power or capacity to solve that problem. Adaptive Capacity  The broad collection of skills and abilities that allows actors to anticipate or respond to economic, biophysical, and social drivers of change. It can be used to leverage either incremental or radical change when it is needed. Anthropocene  The proposed geologic epoch characterised by extensive changes to the Earth System caused by humans, as evidenced by enduring fingerprints of human activity that can be identified and measured in geologic strata (Lewis and Maslin 2015b) (Chap. 1). Biodiversity  The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems (Convention on Biological Diversity). Biodiversity policy often focuses on compositional diversity (what’s there, e.g. species), but it should also consider structural diversity (how it is arranged) and functional diversity (what it does) (Noss 1990). Cultural Landscapes  Cultural landscapes are broadly defined as cultural properties that represent ‘the combined works of nature and man’ in the World © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2

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Heritage Convention, and are ‘illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/ or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal’ (UNESCO 2019b, p. 20). Cultural Severance  The physical and psychological disassociation between cultural activities and landscapes (Rotherham 2007) (Chap. 5). Earth System  Used to refer to the idea that Earth ‘behaves as a single, self-regulating system comprised of physical, chemical, biological, and human components’ (Moore III et al. 2001). It is used in discussions of the Anthropocene to emphasise that humans have changed the way this whole system is functioning. Ecological Baselines  Refers to static points in time and space that are used to compare present-day sites to some time period in the past. They are often derived from historical literature, palaeoecological studies, or surviving relicts of relatively untouched ecosystems (Chap. 5). Ecosystem Function  Ecosystem function has several different meanings in ecology, including ecological processes that sustain and ecological system and the services an ecosystem provides to humans or other organisms (Jax and Setälä 2005). Most often in this book, ‘ecosystem function’ is used to refer to the ecological processes that control the fluxes of energy, nutrients, and organic matter through an environment (e.g. primary production, nutrient cycling) (Cardinale et al. 2012). Ultimately, these are linked to ecosystem services and the benefits ecosystems provide to humans and other organisms. Ecosystem Services  The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These can be supporting services such as nutrient cycling, primary production, pollination, soil formation, or habitat provision. Provisioning services include food, raw material such as wood, genetic resources, or energy. Carbon sequestration, climate regulation, pest control, and flood protection are part of regulating services. Cultural services have proven the most difficult to measure and can include recreation, education, spiritual, historical, or therapeutic benefits (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment). Extinction Debt  The phenomenon where the extinction of species occurs with a substantial delay following habitat loss or degradation (c.f. Kuussaari et al. 2009). Fire Regime  This term refers to frequency, season, type, severity, and extent of fires in a landscape. It can also include fuel consumption and spread patterns (Chap. 7).

 Glossary  Frames 

295

A linguistic tool to elevate certain elements of a policy narrative. They organise thoughts and the translation of facts, values, and interests into policy (Chap. 1). Golden Spike  Also known as a Global Stratotype Section and Point, it marks a change in the Earth System in stratigraphic material (e.g. rock, sediment, glacier ice). A date can also be agreed by committee (called a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age), but the golden spike is the preferred marker (Lewis and Maslin 2015b) (Chap. 1). Governance  A system of social coordination for resolving common challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change. It considers who decides, how decisions are made, and where and why we intervene (Chap. 1). Hybrid Ecosystems  Hybrid ecosystems occur in highly modified landscapes where key attributes or functions (e.g. nutrient load, hydrology) are the same, but most of the species have changed compared with historical ecosystems (Hobbs et al. 2009) (Chap. 4). Institutional Entrepreneurs  Refers to actors who actively work to transform existing institutions or create new ones (DiMaggio 1988; Battilana et al. 2009). Institutional Work  Concrete strategies that can be used by actors to change all three aspects of institutions (cultural-cognitive, normative, and regulatory) (Chap. 3). Institutions  Rules, strategies, and norms that guide actor behaviour (Ostrom 2005). They are the building blocks of governance because they structure decision-making and assign roles and responsibilities to individuals and organisations (Chap. 1). Novel Ecosystems  A novel ecosystem is a system of abiotic, biotic, and social components (and their interactions) that, by virtue of human influence, differ from those that prevailed historically, having a tendency to self-organise and manifest novel qualities without intensive human management. Novel ecosystems are distinguished from hybrid ecosystems by practical limitations (a combination of ecological, environmental, and social thresholds) on the recovery of historical qualities (Hobbs et al. 2013a, b, p. 104) (Chap. 4). Nature-Based Solutions  Actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits (IUCN Resolution WCC-2016-Res-069-EN). Resilience  A resilient system is one that can be exposed to stress, disturbance, or other outside influences whilst still retaining essentially the same function, structure, feedback, and identity. The concept links to adaptive capacity,

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where actors can adjust responses to keep a system in a stable state. Like adaptive capacity, it may also mean transformation as required, when existing conditions make the current system untenable, which the resilience literature calls transformability (c.f. Walker and Salt 2006). Stability  In ecology, stability is a multidimensional concept that tries to capture the different aspects of the dynamics of the system and its response to perturbations (Donohue et  al. 2016). Components include asymptotic stability, resilience, resistance, robustness, persistence, and variability (Pimm 1984). Transformation  This can refer to fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic, and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values (IPBES 2019a, b, p. 5), but it is often instead used to refer to radical changes to governance, social, economic, or ecological systems. Novel ecosystems can be considered transformed ecosystems because they have crossed a threshold that makes restoration unfeasible (Chap. 2).

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Index

A

Accountability, 18, 43, 80, 84, 130, 171, 243, 267, 289 Adaptive capacity, see Capacity Adaptive management, 210, 214, 255, 266 Agricultural landscapes, 122, 124, 149, 154 See also Multifunctional landscapes; Working landscapes Agriculture, 1, 12, 23, 56, 120, 124, 125, 129, 131, 132, 154, 157, 158, 161, 167, 169, 234, 236, 238, 251, 256 Alvars, 166–173 Anthropocene background, 101 debates, 5–7, 10, 12–16, 19, 24–26, 41, 43, 77, 99, 107, 133, 194, 255

defining, 5–16, 9n4, 81 evidence for, 6–17, 38, 39, 47, 86 golden spike, 9, 9n4, 10, 12, 13 good Anthropocene, 16, 19, 25, 40, 45, 76, 82, 107, 111, 150 grief or grieving and, 18, 26, 45, 82 hope and, 18, 19, 24, 26, 82, 133 scientific debates, 8, 10 social science and, 16, 38–40 Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), 10, 12, 12n5, 13, 9 Assisted migration, 41, 193, 194 Australia Australian Alps, 239, 241–244, 246, 247 Tasmania, 120, 124

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 S. Clement, Governing the Anthropocene, Palgrave Studies in Environmental Policy and Regulation, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60350-2

347

348 Index

Baselines Anthropocene baseline, 288 cultural landscapes and, 148–152, 204 historical fidelity, 80, 113, 123, 154, 188 novel ecosystems and, 148, 150–153, 204, 265, 288 restoration and, 147, 148, 151, 152, 192n1, 203, 204, 209, 265 Biodiversity conservation, 253 biodiversity and conservation, distinction between, 62, 148 definition, 123, 253, 281 extinction, 119, 281 function, relationship with, 113 invasive species, 119 native species, 113, 115, 115n2 See also Non-native species Biosphere, 3–5, 41, 57, 77, 133, 146, 155, 166, 217, 235, 281 Bushfires, see Wildfires

Climate change, vii, 2, 18, 21, 40, 41, 56, 61–63, 84, 103n1, 105, 116, 119, 123, 157, 160, 162, 166, 189–202, 206, 209–211, 213–217, 219, 220, 233, 235–239, 242, 244, 246, 247, 251, 269, 284, 285, 288 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 76, 173, 250, 251 Cultural landscapes baselines and, 147–153, 157, 204 defining, 146 novel ecosystems and, 63, 104, 145–178, 204, 232, 265, 282, 287 Cultural severance, 155–157, 160, 165, 168, 169, 171, 173, 177, 237, 287, 289 Culture culture and governance reform, 240 (see also Domains of change, Domain 2) culture of experts, 241 See also Cultural landscapes

C

D

B

Capacity, 62, 86, 87, 162 adaptive capacity, 61, 62, 85–87, 90, 91, 131, 169, 190, 216, 229, 251, 266, 269, 283, 284 anticipatory, 86, 285, 286 buffering, 61, 85, 129 leadership, 62, 86, 162 learning, 86, 285 self-organising, 85, 131 CBD, see Convention on Biological Diversity

Domains of change Domain 1, 77–79, 175, 207, 229, 233 (see also Framing; Narratives/stories) Domain 2, 78–80, 126, 128, 149, 152, 165, 170, 171, 207, 254 (see also Culture; Norms) Domain 3, 80–83, 110, 126, 128, 129, 131, 150, 158, 190, 203, 252 (see also Objectives or goals)

 Index 

Domain 4, 83–85, 128, 158, 170, 190, 191, 203, 285 (see also Policy/policy instruments) Domain 5, 84–91, 126, 127, 129, 162, 165, 169, 171, 190, 229, 231, 249, 269 (see also Capacity) E

Ecological baselines, see Baselines Ecological stability, 3 Earth System, 3, 3n2, 8, 9n4, 13, 16, 17, 22, 25, 37, 40, 45, 53, 59, 90, 195 Ecosystem services, 2n1, 84, 105, 108, 132, 149, 163, 174, 176, 218, 251, 253–255, 257, 288 Environmental policy, see Policy/ policy instruments Estonia, 148, 166–173, 175 Experts, 9, 10, 13, 46, 80, 87, 97, 98, 108, 116, 118, 159, 163, 176, 178, 187–214, 216–219, 229, 231–233, 240, 241, 243–246, 248, 252, 284, 286, 288, 289 Extinction debt, 4, 167, 171 European Commission, 252, 266 F

Fairness, 18, 39, 80, 84, 128, 267, 289 Fire, see Wildfires Forest, 12, 105, 151, 152, 156, 159, 164, 166, 171, 172, 175, 234, 237, 238, 242, 253

349

Framing conflicts and, 7, 240, 246 frames, 7, 13, 38, 40, 41, 46, 51, 58, 78, 79, 83, 97–134, 194, 231–233, 246, 283, 290 framing contests, 229, 232–233, 239, 244, 248, 283 Function biodiversity and ecosystem function, relationship, 4, 62, 113, 130, 253, 260 definition of ecosystem function, 2n1 ecosystem function, 2, 2n1, 4, 41, 62, 77, 110, 112, 113, 123, 125, 130, 131, 210, 253, 260 G

Goals, see Objectives or goals Governance adaptive governance, 48–49, 53, 59, 61, 218, 255 (see also Capacity) agency, vi, 47, 51, 52, 54, 55, 62, 126, 132, 211, 216, 217, 241, 243, 249 co-production, 60, 266 definition, 21 effectiveness, 42–45, 255 fit-for-purpose/fit, 20, 55, 56, 61, 90, 176, 211, 243, 248, 251, 289 flexibility versus stability, 45, 218–220 good governance principles, 81, 171, 269

350 Index

Governance (cont.) knowledge governance, 86, 87, 190, 213, 215–217, 229, 231, 239, 243, 266, 284, 285 panaceas, 48, 49, 55, 289 reforming governance, 42, 76, 85, 91, 122, 132 (see also Institutional change) scaffolding and, 49–50, 91, 188 steering and, 19–20, 23, 38 transformative, 6, 24, 53, 58–60, 76, 91, 132, 164, 248 Grassland, 100, 105, 118–133, 148, 157, 158, 166–172, 174, 234, 238 See also Alvars H

Heathland, 156–166, 172 Hobbs, Richard, 18, 24–27, 77, 82, 98–102, 108–110, 112–114, 117, 130, 133, 198, 201, 206, 215, 253 Holocene, 5, 9, 14, 15, 22, 82 Hybrid ecosystems, 24, 101, 102, 121, 122, 130, 191, 253, 254, 288 I

Industrial Revolution, 10, 157 Institutional change, 50–57, 59, 60, 91, 99, 128, 131, 132, 150, 161, 177 Institutional entrepreneurs, 87, 126, 129 Institutional work, 55, 62, 87–89, 126, 127, 129, 249, 250, 283, 285

Institutions, vi, 22, 24, 40, 42, 43, 45, 46, 49–57, 60, 62, 78, 80, 83, 84, 87–91, 110, 126, 132, 174, 177, 190, 218, 283 cognition/cognitive aspects, 57, 249, 283 definition, 22 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 27, 59, 115 International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 167, 251, 253, 255–257, 259, 264, 265 IPBES, see Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IUCN, see International Union for the Conservation of Nature J

Japan, 148, 173–177 L

Leadership, see Capacity Legitimacy, 80, 84, 171, 233, 267, 289 Logic of decision making/decision logics, 194, 209, 214 M

Man and the Biosphere, 146 Marine, 83, 103–105, 196, 200 Multifunctional landscapes, 112, 118, 122–123

 Index  N

Narratives/stories, 5–8, 14–19, 25, 57, 77–79, 90, 98, 99, 106–109, 111, 113, 115, 116, 121–127, 129, 130, 132, 133, 148, 167, 175, 193, 207, 232, 237, 241, 244, 281–283, 290 Nature-based solutions (NBS), 84, 216, 231, 249–260, 262–270, 282, 284–289 Non-native species, 77, 82, 97, 100, 109, 112, 115–117, 152, 155, 191–193, 203, 205, 209, 214 Normative, 5, 13, 15, 25, 26, 37, 43, 51, 57, 60, 82, 83, 87, 106, 117, 149, 151, 152, 249, 283 Norms, 13, 22, 38, 40, 47, 50–54, 77, 79, 80, 90, 98, 106, 109, 110, 116, 118, 125, 127, 130, 149, 171, 189, 207, 215, 230, 231, 249, 253, 260, 283 See also Domains of change, Domain 2 Novel ecosystems cultural landscapes, intersections with, 148 defining, 24–26, 101–104 ecological integrity, 188 geographic ranges, 193 governance and, 24–26, 76, 97, 99, 100, 282 history of concept, 100–103 self-organisation and, 101, 110, 117, 148, 160, 266 similar concepts, 264

351

62, 77, 78, 80, 82–85, 87, 97, 102, 110, 112–115, 117, 126, 133, 147, 148, 150, 151, 166, 167, 173, 176, 177, 190, 193, 197, 198, 201, 203, 206–209, 211, 215, 218–220, 232, 240, 253, 254, 256, 257, 259, 263, 266, 268–270, 282, 283, 287 See also Domains of change, Domain 3 Outcomes, 6, 19, 21–23, 38, 43, 44, 46, 47, 50, 54, 57, 62, 75, 83, 86, 87, 114, 121, 128, 129, 131, 132, 149, 164, 168, 172, 176, 177, 203, 204, 214, 236, 238, 240, 242, 243, 246, 264, 285 P

Policy/policy instruments, vi, vii, 3, 4, 6, 7, 22, 23, 25, 26, 40, 44, 46–48, 50–52, 57, 78–80, 83–86, 90, 102, 105, 107–109, 112, 115, 120, 122–124, 126, 130, 131, 148, 154, 158, 160–163, 167, 170, 177, 188–190, 193, 194, 203, 206, 210, 217–221, 231, 236–238, 240, 242, 246, 251, 255, 260, 269, 282, 283, 287, 289 See also Domains of change, Domain 4 R

O

Objectives or goals, 3, 4, 13, 20, 21, 25, 44, 46, 49, 54, 57, 59, 61,

Resilience, 4n3, 38, 113, 117, 118, 153, 154, 160, 192, 220, 246, 253, 256, 258, 264, 265, 269

352 Index

Restoration, 12, 15, 24, 51, 52, 78, 97, 99, 101, 108–117, 133, 147, 148, 151–154, 158, 159, 168, 170, 171, 173, 192n1, 193, 201, 203, 204, 206, 209, 217, 219, 253, 255, 257, 258, 264, 265, 281, 284 Rewilding, 160, 160n1, 287, 41 S

Satoyama, 173–177 Scenario planning, 87, 132, 286, 287 Scenarios, 22, 24, 38, 39, 119, 121, 122, 132, 161, 215, 246, 283 Social-ecological systems (SES), 23, 38, 48, 55, 63, 86, 87, 121, 122, 246

U

UK, see United Kingdom United Kingdom (UK) Liverpool, 260–263, 265, 267, 268 uplands, 158 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 146, 166 Urban areas/urbanization, 119, 145, 174, 175, 191, 251, 252, 258–260, 263, 265 See also Urban GreenUP Urban GreenUP, 252, 258–263, 267–269 V

T

Thresholds, 2, 3, 100–103, 108, 119, 123, 125, 245, 256 Transformation/transformative Anthropocene framing, 15–19 definition, 59 ecosystems and, 25, 59, 79, 85, 100, 126, 229, 230, 232, 234, 260, 282, 285 governance and, v, vii, 24, 41, 58–60, 75, 76, 91, 132, 154, 164, 171, 173, 176, 218, 219, 230, 231, 248, 260, 282–285 radical vs incremental change, 57 See also Institutional change Triage, 109, 114, 196, 203, 214, 219

Values, 5–7, 14, 22, 26, 38, 47, 52, 54, 57, 59, 77–79, 82, 87, 90, 98, 99, 102, 104, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 116, 117, 121, 124, 128, 145, 147–149, 152–157, 160, 165, 170–175, 187–190, 195, 196, 203, 206–209, 211, 213, 214, 216, 230–232, 236, 239, 242, 243, 245, 252, 253, 256, 257, 263, 282, 284–290 Values, rules and knowledge, 132, 173, 231, 232, 286

 Index  W

Wildfires, vii, 58, 216, 234–251, 256, 269, 282, 283, 289 fire regime, 157, 234–238, 234n1, 242, 246, 248, 289 prescribed burning, 289 risk reduction, 243

353

Working landscapes, 122, 124, 125, 131, 149 See also Agricultural landscapes; Multifunctional landscapes World War Two, 58, 167, 174