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Keywords:

  • biodiversity policy;
  • ecological processes;
  • nature conservation

Summary  Developments in ecological theory indicate that ecological processes have major implications for sustaining biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Consequently, conservation actions that focus solely on particular species, vegetation communities, habitats or sites (‘assets’) are unlikely to be effective over the long term unless the ecological processes that support them continue to function. Efforts to sustain biodiversity must embrace both ‘assets’ and ‘process-oriented’ approaches. Existing knowledge about ecological processes, incomplete though it is, has not been adequately considered in government decision making. It is, therefore, necessary to consider how to build consideration of ecological processes into legislative and institutional frameworks, policy and planning processes, and on-ground environmental management. Drawing on insights from interviews, a facilitated workshop, and a literature review, this paper identifies a suite of policy priorities and associated reforms which should assist in ensuring that ecological processes are given more attention in policy-making processes. It is concluded that a multi-pronged approach is required, because there are no ‘silver bullets’ for sustaining ecological processes.