Commercialising Conservation: Communicating interdisciplinary strategies to reduce the conservation research implementation gap.
Harwood-Stevenson, Veronica Felila Julian
Agricultural and economic stability are of primary concern in this environmentally unstable and financially challenging global climate. Until recently their dependence on biodiversity has been overlooked. For New Zealand, the role of biodiversity in delivering brand status, agricultural wealth and climate stability needs to become a high priority area. However, despite massive international efforts, New Zealand and the rest of the world is failing at conserving biodiversity. It is generally accepted that we are in the process of a mass extinction, with estimates that 30% of species will become extinct in the next 40 years (Baronsky, 2001). Part of the problem is the research implementation gap that exists in conservation science. This gap is exemplified by the fact that 94% of academic conservation research does not have a practical application (Knight, 2008). Practitioners of conservation who could put the science into practice do not read the research, and collaboration between academics and conservation practitioners is rare. This causes a massive communication breakdown and general inefficiency in the discipline of conservation science. Another part of the problem is that communicating the value of conservation to policy makers, who are generally not scientists, is difficult. Conservation scientists must use communication measures that can inform policies for sustainable growth. By using the language of commerce and business efficiency, conservation scientists will be better equipped to communicate the commercial value of conservation aims and thus have those aims met. This emerging area in science communication is topical, controversial and vitally important to the conservation of biodiversity. Commercial disciplines such as marketing have a financial incentive to increase communication efficiency, and have developed proven strategies that do so. This thesis investigates how strategies such as branding, marketing, and Web 2.0 can be applied to conservation in order to improve its efficiency. Case studies are used to show how branding and marketing alignment are already being used by governments and conservation organisations, followed by discussion of the benefits and problems that their use has brought. Through the analysis and critique of the case studies and literature this thesis proposes a series of strong and practical recommendations that scientists, policy makers and conservation practitioners could adopt to reduce the research implementation gap in conservation science. The implementation of these recommendations could improve the efficiency of conservation science and biodiversity, increase agricultural productivity and boost the value of the New Zealand brand.
Advisor: Fleming, Jean
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Zoololgy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: nation branding; conservation; brand orientation; organisational commitment; research implementation gap; knowing doing gap; environmental economics; Ecosystem services
Research Type: Thesis