Evaluating institutional fit for the conservation of threatened species

Date: 04, Feb, 2021
Author(s):   Guerrero, A.M., Sporne, I., McKenna, R., Wilson, K.A.
Publisher: Conservation Biology

Recovery and conservation of threatened species require adequate institutional responses. We tested an approach to systematically identify and measure how an institutional framework acknowledges threats and required responses for the recovery of endangered species. We measured institutional functional fit with a drivers-pressure-state-impacts-response (DPSIR) model integrated with a quantitative text mining method and qualitative analysis of statutory instruments to examine regulatory responses that support the recovery of 2 endangered species native to Australia, the bridled nailtail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) and the Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus). The key components of the DPSIR model were present in the institutional framework at statutory and operational levels, but some institutional gaps remained in the protection and recovery of the Eastern Bristlebird, including feral predator control, weed control, and grazing management in some locations. However, regulatory frameworks varied in their geographic scope and the application and implementation of many instruments remained optional. Quantitative text mining can be used to quickly navigate a large volume of regulatory documents, but challenges remain in selection of terms, queries of co-occurrence, and interpretation of word frequency counts. To inform policy, we recommend that quantitative assessments of institutional fit be complemented with qualitative analysis and interpreted in light of the sociopolitical and institutional context.