Dr Pamela Parker, Australian Landscape Trust
Mr G Fitzhardinge
prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2006
Many throughout the conservation literature observe that nothing of a lasting nature is gained in conservation without the engagement of local communities. The interrelatedness of environmental and biodiversity goals and local community capacity building is becoming acknowledged. This relationship is essential in ensuring that gains achieved can last for both nature and the surrounding custodial communities. Nothing is secured without both of these elements.
In this newly recognised dimension of engagement of communities in conservation, the second-generation task-focused Australian environmental organisations, such as ABHF, Birds Australia, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Trust for Nature, ALT and others, are going well, perhaps aided by their dependence on donations of funds, time, skills, labour and a culture of empowered voluntarism as substitutions for large budgets that could provide funding for the purchase of these services.
Great optimism can be sustained from the rapid transformation of Australian and international philanthropy. In Australia, government taxation policy linked to the increase of wealth, especially of individuals and small businesses, resulted in a burgeoning of giving that has created a new cultural force for the support of environmental objectives. Voluntarism is a major component of this new investment, much of which is directed to communities in which this new wealth has been gained and communities in which volunteers live.
A great tragedy of the commons is in play in the marine environment, generally devoid of empowered small businesses, generous and aware individuals, and the direct oversight of the nation. On the sea floor, in the estuaries and coastal zones, in marine biodiversity and in the sustainability of harvests, profits are generally privatised and losses are socialised. There is no resident community to act on behalf of the vastness of these global losses. Perhaps the next great environmental challenge will be the economic, social, political and intellectual pursuit of natural and biological resource equity of the seas.
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