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Stewardship for the Great Barrier Reef: A review of concepts and definitions of stewardship for the Great Barrier Reef

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Title: Stewardship for the Great Barrier Reef: A review of concepts and definitions of stewardship for the Great Barrier Reef
Authors: Dyer, M.
Newlands, M.
Bradshaw, E.
Hernandez, S.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
School of Science, James Cook University
Monash University, Victoria
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Abstract: The Great Barrier Reef (the Reef) and its outstanding universal value is core to Australia’s identity (Goldberg et al. 2018). However, threats to the health and values of the Reef are multiple, cumulative and increasing (Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2019). The Reef is protected and managed using a range of statutory and non-statutory instruments. Stewardship activities form part of these non-statutory activities, leveraging partnerships between community members, government agencies, stakeholders and Traditional Owners. The concept of stewardship is promoted as a way to achieve human-environment harmony, and to mitigate, avoid and repair some threats to Reef health and values. In this report, we identify and describe the use of ‘stewardship’ in academic and some grey literature for the Reef. We found that stewardship in the Reef describes action, education, values, engagement, communication, conservation, protection and sustainable use programs and activities. It is applied at different social scales – from individuals, social groups, communities, organisations to governments; as well as spatial scales from bioregion to national borders and global imaginings. It is often used within the context of applied projects which have demonstrable and measurable objectives, but similarly is used to describe activities that lead to or enable applied projects or are assumed to eventually do so. Our report found that this broad range of activities labelled ‘stewardship’ did not match formal definitions in which stewardship is often defined very narrowly as ‘action’. Therefore, a gap exists between concept and intention regarding what is meant by the term stewardship. This report proposes a definition of stewardship that includes three components encompassing activities designed to engender stewardship thinking, to build capacity for stewardship as well as stewardship as action. In order to understand the broader range of activities occurring that are already being labelled stewardship in the Reef, we suggest a typology which allows activities to be evaluated in their own right – that is, their success in achieving their stewardship purpose rather than against an assumed link to an environmental outcome for which there is no evidence. The purpose of this definition and typology is to enable articulation and then evaluation of stewardship activities against their purpose and ultimately against the larger goal of improved Reef health values.
ISBN: 9780648753179
Appears in Collections:Values

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