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The role of government in a partial transition from public to private in the expanding Australian protected area system


Kirkpatrick, JB and Fielder, J and Davison, A and Pearce, LM and Cooke, B, The role of government in a partial transition from public to private in the expanding Australian protected area system, Conservation and Society, 20, (3) Article 201-210. ISSN 0975-3133 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2022 Kirkpatrick et al Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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DOI: doi:10.4103/cs.cs_100_21


Since the 1980s in democratic societies, neoliberal reforms and neofeudal governance have transferred the delivery of many public goods and services from governments to non-government actors. Privatisation is a core neoliberal agenda, but little is known of the nature and extent of its application to nature conservation through reservation. We investigate the degree of privatisation of the expanding protected area system in our case study areas of Australia and Tasmania, hypothesising that governments have: disrupted public agencies managing the protected area estate by repeated reorganisation; diverted public funds from public to private protected areas; and increasingly alienated public reserves for subsidised private profit from tourism. We found frequent restructuring of agencies managing protected areas. Although Federal Government expenditure on private reserves increased markedly in the twenty-first century, so did expenditure on public conservation reserves. All States except Queensland increased public protected area funding. Direct subsidisation of private reserves by government has not had a steady upward trajectory. In contrast, subsidisation of private alienation of public conservation reserves for tourism may have accelerated in the twenty-first century. We conclude that, while Australian governments see value in protected areas as a source of economic development and electoral advantage, they are agnostic on ownership.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:environmental policy and governance, nature conservation funding, neoliberal conservation, private protected areas, public protected areas, private land conservation, public administration, government funding
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Environmental geography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental protection frameworks (incl. economic incentives)
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
UTAS Author:Fielder, J (Ms Julie Fielder)
UTAS Author:Davison, A (Associate Professor Aidan Davison)
UTAS Author:Pearce, LM (Ms Lilian Pearce)
ID Code:149269
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP180103118)
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-03-23
Last Modified:2022-12-08
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