Biodiversity and agricultural landscapes: Can the wicked policy problems be solved? Academic Article uri icon


  • Conservation issues for agricultural landscapes are typical examples of "wicked" public policy problems: that is, ones in which questions are not clearly defined, and there is apparent conflict between different sets of values, all of which are legitimate. The paper argues that how to protect intrinsic value in nature is itself a wicked policy problem, complicated by the fact that at least three different senses of "intrinsic value" are easily confused. The challenge for policy in Australian agriculture is how to protect remaining natural values by processes that are fair to stakeholders, governed by scientific credibility and sensitive to the plurality of values held by groups within the community. The paper argues that scientists themselves can play an important role not just in problem definition, but also in helping set the agenda for action that will be effective in preserving natural diversity.

publication date

  • 2004

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