, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1013-1025
Date: 17 Mar 2009

Accountability, Reporting, or Management Improvement? Development of a State of the Parks Assessment System in New South Wales, Australia

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Management effectiveness evaluation has been recognized as an important mechanism for both reporting on and improving protected area management. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s program of work on protected areas calls on all countries to implement such systems. In 2004, the first whole of system assessment of park management effectiveness, based on the IUCN-WCPA Management Effectiveness Evaluation Framework, was undertaken in New South Wales, Australia as part of a State of the Parks reporting requirement. This article describes the development of the State of the Parks assessment tool, its elements, and how it addresses the management effectiveness difficulties associated with assessments conducted across an extensive and diverse range of park types. The importance of engaging staff, at all levels, throughout the process is highlighted, as well as the adjustments made to the assessment tool based on staff feedback. While some results are presented, the main purpose of the article is to identify and discuss important procedural and methodological considerations. These include balancing quantitative and qualitative assessment approaches, achieving a comprehensive understanding of the management processes, and responding to any problems associated with assessments.