Over the past 50 years we have experienced unprecedented changes in global environmental, social and economic systems such that the period has been referred to as ‘The Great Acceleration’. These changes will have uncertain consequences for South Australia’s biodiversity.

While we have limited control over these globally-driven changes, we do have a choice about how we wish to respond. These changes encourage us to rethink how we want to engage with nature, how we manage our natural environment, and, centrally, what we are managing nature for.

The Nature of SA has been consulting with many people around the state, engaging with the latest global literature, and hosting visiting speakers, all to inform a new statewide perspective on nature conservation.


We've consulted with the sector

Reviews of the No Species Loss strategy 2007-2017 indicate that the sector’s awareness of the strategy was high and it was seen as comprehensive and relevant, however over its tenure it had limited ability to influence or drive action for biodiversity conservation in the State.

Workshops with government and non-government conservation partners identified a number of necessary ‘shifts’ in our future approach to conservation including a need to:

  • review the assumptions underlying some of our traditional conservation approaches given the extent of climate and landscape change that has and will yet occur;
  • embed systems that foster continuous adaptive and shared learning;
  • make greater investment in more inclusive and resilient governance structures;
  • engage with and influence the State’s narrative around the value of nature; and
  • demonstrate what we know works and where it doesn’t encourage innovation.

These shifts were explored with the State’s environment sector over 12 months, at 19 consultation sessions, in every NRM region of the State, and involved over 350 individuals.

The ‘sector’ appreciated the opportunity to talk openly about the challenges and to take time to review the way we do business. Many related to Richard Hobb’s reflection on conservation loss and grief and welcomed the opportunity to discuss. They recognised that many of the discussions facilitated by the Nature of SA project were also being held in the global scientific and popular literature.


We've hosted conversations


Grief + conservation

We hosted Richard Hobbs in the Joinery to talk about how the grief and loss experienced by the conservation sector impact and sometimes limit our work. The video of his presentation has since been shown many times around the state. You can view it below.


Common cause

We brought Common Cause to Adelaide to offer introductory workshops and masterclasses in positive framing and messaging for the conservation sector.


Climate Change

We brought Mike Dunlop (CSIRO Climate Risks & Resilience Group) and Paul Ryan (Australian Resilience Centre) to Adelaide. Their Climate Ready workshop used practical exercises to explore the implications of future ecological changes and strategies for building capacity to address those implications.


We've reviewed the previous strategy

Reviews of the No Species Loss – a Nature Conservation Strategy for South Australia 2007-2017 indicated that the sector’s awareness of the strategy was high and it was seen as comprehensive and relevant; however over its tenure it largely failed to influence or drive action for biodiversity conservation in the State.

In 2016 an on-line survey investigating the utility of No Species Loss was sent to more than 200 environmental NGOs, community groups, environmental consultants, DEWNR and PIRSA staff and their networks (largely those working in science, NRM, conservation policy and sustainable agriculture).

The survey, for which there were 128 responses, confirmed there was widespread awareness of the strategy and frequent reference to it for planning purposes. However, many of the respondents highlighted the lack of an implementation plan with allocation of responsible parties, resources and reporting accountabilities as a serious shortcoming, with the strategy remaining largely aspirational as a result.

Widespread feedback proposed that future strategies should engage likely users of the document, partners and stakeholders in development and delivery to maximise effectiveness.


We've reviewed research


the State of the World
and The Case For Change

Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Annual Climate Reports. Available online.

Rockström, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F. S. Chapin, III, E. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C. A. De Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P. K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W. Corell, V. J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, & Foley, J. (2009). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14, 32. Available online. Additional information is available on the website of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Steffen, W., Broadgate, W., Deutsch, L, Gaffney, O. & Ludwig, C. (2015). The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration. The Anthropocene Review 2, 81-98. See charts and other information online

Williams, K.J., Prober, S.M., Harwood, T.D., Doerr, V.A.J., Jeanneret, T., Manion, G., & Ferrier, S. (2014). Implications of climate change for biodiversity: a community-level modelling approach, CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Canberra. Available at: www.AdaptNRM.org. ISBN 978-1-4863-0479-0. See other resources available online


Valuing Nature in all its forms

Hobbs, Richard J., Higgs, Eric S. & Hall, Carol M. (2013). Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order. Oxford University Press, Oxford

Hobbs, Richard J., Hallett, Lauren M., Ehrlich, Paul R. & Mooney, Harold A. (2011). Intervention Ecology: Applying Ecological Science in the Twenty-first Century. Bioscience 61, 442-450. Available online


the Importance of Protected Areas

Taylor M. & Figgis P. (eds) (2007). Protected Areas: Buffering nature against climate change. Proceedings of a WWF and IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas symposium, 18-19 June 2007, Canberra. WWF Australia, Sydney. Available online


AND the need to think differently

Gorddard, Russell, Colloff, Matthew J., Wise, Russell M, Ware, Dan & Dunlop, Michael (2016). Values, rules and knowledge: Adaptation as change in a decision context. Environmental Science & Policy 57, 60-69. Available online, with a summary available here

The need to improve sector resilience

Hobbs, Richard J. (2013). Grieving for the Past and Hoping for the Future: Balancing Polarizing Perspectives in Conservation and Restoration. Restoration Ecology 21, 145-148. Available (abstract only) here

Morton, Steve R. (2016). On pessimism in Australian ecology. Austral Ecology Early View (online – abstract only)


the need to take learning seriously

Allan, Catherine & Stankey, George H. (2009). Adaptive Environmental Management: A Practitioner’s Guide. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood

Lindenmeyer, D., Likens, G.E. (2010). Effective Ecological Monitoring. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victori


We're building a new
shared perspective

We've integrated everything we've learned into a series of draft 'shifts' for the future of how we approach biodiversity conservation in South Australia. 

We'll be discussing these draft shifts at the upcoming state forum.