Social acceptability of a duty of care for biodiversity

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Abstract

Biodiversity in Australia continues to decline despite substantial government efforts to promote conservation. A statutory duty of care for biodiversity could promote positive outcomes and complement existing regulatory and voluntary approaches. Interest in a duty of care has been persistent, but progress elusive. Two inter-related issues around the social acceptability of a statutory duty of care are impeding progress: (a) the absence of a practical framework to facilitate its implementation, and (b)concerns about the acceptability of a legal instrument to landholders. In this paper, we present research that, for the first time in Australia, addresses the social acceptability of a duty of care for biodiversity, drawing on data from surveys in two Victorian regions. Our findings suggest that there is broad acceptance of 'duty of care' as an abstract concept, but diminished support for its detailed implications. Farmers, in particular, are concerned about the potential for wider community input, the prospect of a legally defined instrument, and the use of industry standards as a surrogate measure for compliance with a duty of care. These findings suggest that efforts to introduce a statutory duty of care need to engage farmers closely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-17
Number of pages10
JournalAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
Volume17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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