Protected areas and related matters

The establishment of large private nature reserves by conservation NGOs: key factors for successful implementation

Lorena Pasquinia1 p1 c1, James A. Fitzsimonsa2 p2, Stuart Cowella3 p3, Katrina Brandona4 and Geoff Wescotta2

a1 Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

a2 School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

a3 Bush Heritage Australia, Lenah Valley, Tasmania, Australia

a4 Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia, USA


Private nature reserves created by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are increasing, and their growing number and extent means that they can potentially contribute to biodiversity goals at a global scale. However, the success of these reserves depends on the legal, economic and institutional conditions framing their creation and management. We explored these conditions, and the opportunities and challenges facing conservation organizations in managing private nature reserves, across several countries, with an emphasis on Australia. Results from 17 semi-structured interviews with representatives of private conservation organizations indicated that while private reserves may enhance the conservation estate, challenges remain. Legal frameworks, especially tenure and economic laws, vary across and within countries, presenting conservation organizations with significant opportunities or constraints to owning and/or managing private nature reserves. Many acquired land without strategic acquisition procedures and secured funding for property acquisition but not management, affecting the long-term maintenance of properties. Other typical problems were tied to the institutional capacity of the organizations. Greater planning within organizations, especially financial planning, is required and NGOs must understand opportunities and constraints present in legislative frameworks at the outset. Organizations must establish their expertise gaps and address them. To this end, partnerships between organizations and/or with government can prove critical.

(Received February 01 2010)

(Reviewed April 15 2010)

(Accepted July 01 2010)

(Online publication June 07 2011)


c1 Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. E-mail lorena.pasquini@gmail.com

p1 Current address: Department of Environmental & Geographical Science, Shell Environmental & Geographical Science Building, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

p2 Current address: The Nature Conservancy, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

p3 Current address: Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Lower Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia