The importance of ecological research for ecosystem management: The case of browsing by swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor) in commercially harvested native forests


  • Julian Di Stefano

  • This paper is based on research currently being carried out by Julian Di Stefano, an ecologist with the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment ( The project was instigated in response to the need for collaboration between managers and ecologists regarding the management of mammalian browsing in commercially managed native forests.


Summary  Ecosystem management often proceeds within the context of sub-optimal relationships between ecologists and ecosystem managers, and management outcomes could be improved with greater collaboration between members of these disciplines. This paper identifies an ecosystem management problem resulting from the interaction between timber harvesting and browsing wallabies, and this case study is used to exemplify how ecological data and expertise can contribute to the process of ecosystem management. It is argued that appropriate use of existing ecological data, establishment of strategic new research and the implementation of management actions as experimental hypothesis tests can facilitate achievement of management objectives, but greater collaboration between ecologists and managers is required before this can occur. Reasons for sub-optimal relationships are outlined, and the potential for structural change within large State-run ecosystem management agencies to improve interactions between managers and ecologists is discussed.