Interactions between ecological and social drivers in determining and managing biodiversity impacts of deer

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The management of wildlife and its impacts on biodiversity is likely to be most successful where ecological understanding is integrated with the economic and social drivers for management, and where the attitudes and behaviour of stakeholders are fully understood. Collaboration between stakeholders at the landscape level is suggested as the most efficient 'model' for the management of many wildlife species such as deer. However, there has been limited research to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative management for deer or how it is perceived by individual landowners. Here, we take an integrative quantitative and qualitative approach to evaluate the relative importance of different ecological and social drivers for management in determining the impacts of deer on woodland sites managed for conservation objectives in the East of England, UK. Our results suggest that the ecological impacts of deer are widely recognised amongst landowners, with many management decisions based on observations of site ecology. Furthermore, current financial incentives serve as an important motivation for land owners to actively manage deer. We found no evidence that deer management focused at the level of individual sites is effective for achieving ecological management objectives. In contrast, collaborative management with neighbouring land owners can help to reduce conservation impacts, especially in relation to the larger deer species. The study highlights the importance of landscape-scale collaborative management in delivering conservation objectives. It also demonstrates the importance of understanding social factors, alongside ecological ones, in designing effective conservation management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013

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