An international assessment of the barriers influencing the effectiveness of island ecosystem management

April J. Burt, Ana Nuno, Lindsay Turnbull, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, Nancy Bunbury

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Island ecosystems are disproportionally impacted by biodiversity loss and as such their effective management is critical to global conservation efforts.
Practitioners world-wide work to manage island sites and species to conserve them, but various day-to-day barriers compromise these efforts, reducing management effectiveness and preventing local and potentially even national biodiversity targets from being met.
Identifying the most important barriers that currently impede effective island conservation could streamline investment to focus on cost-efficient interventions that better reflect realities on the ground and the need to address barriers under substantial time and budget constraints.
A survey of 360 practitioners working in island ecosystem management across 77 countries was conducted.
The three most common barriers perceived by practitioners to prevent them from achieving more effective management are: low staff capacity; difficulties turning data into useful information for management (including lack of capacity and time to analyse data); and lack of a research and management strategy.
Practitioners' perceptions of national-level management effectiveness were mostly associated with their perception of governance issues, the presence/absence of research and management strategies and their experience of collaboration outcomes.
Practitioners' experience of staffing and monitoring programme issues was important in shaping their perception of management effectiveness within the organisation(s) they worked with.
Despite the indisputable need for transformative change to address the underlying causes of many of these barriers, more immediate and direct investment in strengthening the people and systems that are at the frontline of preventing biodiversity loss on islands is needed to bridge these barriers and achieve more effective management of island ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages12
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Biodiversity
  • Capacity
  • Conservation
  • Practitioners
  • Small island developing states
  • Social survey


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