Katie Moon

Dr Katie Moon

Field of Research
Environment Policy, Conservation and Biodiversity, Legislation and Standards, Land Stewardship, Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity

I am committed to improving the health and quality of social-ecological systems. I have focused my research into three main streams that support understanding and decision-making for equitable social-ecological outcomes. I am eager to work with new collaborators and available to supervisor Honours, Masters and PhD students. Ph.D. scholarships ($35,000 per year) are available for high-achieving students (with H1/High Distinction in UG and/or Masters by Research) under my supervision. If you are interested, please feel free to get in contact with me at k.moon@unsw.edu.au

Stream 1: Environmental stewardship

Environmental stewardship is an ethic that seeks cooperative, sustainable and equitable management of resources. Within a stewardship framework, all members of society have a responsibility to steward resources to ensure that both current and future generations can access the goods and services they need from ecosystems. Stewardship is also concerned with ensuring that ecosystems themselves can continue to function and provide life-supporting services for all species.

I am collaborating on two main projects that focus on more effective operationalization of stewardship. The first project explores the relationships between stewardship and property. Because the concept is concerned with the management of resources, it must engage with ‘property’ - the medium for allocating use rights in resources. By tying the concept to the framework of property rules, rights and duties, it becomes possible to identify who has a stewardship responsibility and to whom, and relatedly, how power over resources is distributed within a system. The second project examines the possibilities for stewardship outcomes over spatial and temporal scales. We have developed an 8-step approach to identifying beneficiaries related to the prevailing system of property rights. This approach makes it possible to identify the jurisdictional scale of resource inequalities, providing opportunities to increase the equitable distribution of goods and services through the application of appropriate policy instruments. 

Stream 2: Social science philosophy and methods

People are understood through the social sciences, by examining: what they think and why; their values, culture and perceptions; their knowledge of systems and processes; and what motivates them to adopt certain behaviours. Engaging with and interpreting social science research requires at least a basic understanding of the philosophical principles and theoretical assumptions of the discipline. My work in this field supports effective engagement of the social sciences with the conservation agenda.

Two areas of interest in this space are improving the outcomes of social science in conservation and ecology disciplines, and combining methods in novel ways to create improved understandings of social-ecological systems. I have a particular interest in mental models research and am working on a number of projects in this area.

Stream 3: Biodiversity conservation

The field of conservation biology is an action-oriented, values-based, behavioural discipline that seeks to re-imagine the future as “a world where people understand, value, and conserve the diversity of life on Earth”. This increasing focus on social and behavioural dimensions is critical to advancing the conservation agenda, because “conservation is a goal that can only be achieved by changing behavior”.

One of my current projects is with colleagues around the some of dominant assumptions made about the social dimensions of conservation. The value-laden nature of the discipline, combined with insufficient integration with the social sciences, has resulted in the manifestation of many and varied implicit assumptions about the social dimensions of conservation that can be problematic for conservation theory and practice. We examine their premises, then offer alternatives that might be useful. We anticipate that this contribution will improve engagement with social and behavioural disciplines and contribute to more effective conservation outcomes.


Participation in biodiversity conservation: Motivations and barriers of Australian landholders

A Landholder‐Based Approach to the Design of Private‐Land Conservation Programs:

Using quantitative influence diagrams to map natural resource managers’ mental models of invasive species management

Aligning ‘public good’ environmental stewardship with the landscape-scale: adapting MBIs for private land conservation policy

Is All Stewardship Equal? Developing a Typology of Stewardship Approaches

Security and equity of conservation covenants: contradictions of private protected area policies in Australia

A guide to understanding social science research for natural scientists

A guideline to improve qualitative social science publishing in ecology and conservation journals

Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology and methods (in press)

Using Multiple Methods to Understand the Nature of Relationships in Social Networks

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