Managing change or changing management: climate change and human use in Kosciuszko National Park




Wyborn, Carina

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Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand


Climate change is now widely accepted as a key threatening process to biodiversity conservation in national parks. In alpine Australia, some of these effects are already evident, as park managers come to terms with increased threats from large-scale fires and noticeable reductions in annual snow depth and cover. At the same time, businesses are expanding into year-round recreation and tourism, increasing the demand on park agencies to manage visitor needs and impacts. These changes, which transform both the ecology and the human use of alpine parks, will present many challenges to management. While extensive research is being conducted on the impacts of climate change to biophysical systems in national parks, climate change is rarely considered in the broader context of long-standing debates that polarise human use and conservation in parks. Through a qualitative case study of perceptions of climate change in Kosciuszko National Park (KNP), this article suggests that the human use versus conservation dichotomy must be overcome. This article will illustrate how perceptions of, and attachments to, 'place ' shape human interactions with a national park. It will discuss the role of myths and paradoxes as barriers to the acceptance of management decisions in KNP. The article suggests that, given the growing number of social and ecological challenges faced by park agencies, it is no longer useful to consider the biophysical and social aspects of national parks separately; rather they should be reconceptualised as complex social-ecological systems and managed as an integrated whole.



Keywords: biodiversity; climate change; conference proceeding; conservation status; environmental management; environmental planning; national park; protected area; Australia; Kosciuszko National Park; New South Wales Climate change; Kosciuszko national park; Place; Protected area management; Social-ecological systems



Australasian Journal of Environmental Management


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