Applying Theory of Change to the Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas


  • Louise O'Flynn University of Technology Sydney
  • Stephen Schweinsberg University of Technology Sydney
  • Stephen Wearing University of Technology Sydney



The sustainable financing of protected areas (PA) is a worldwide challenge and a barrier to the effective management of over 15% of global land area (Protected Planet, 2021). The purpose of the paper is to outline one approach that has been used to address the challenge of the sustainable financing of the publicly managed terrestrial PA estate in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Also, PA practitioners internationally may find the case study useful in addressing the challenge of insufficient funding for PAs under their care and control. The paper provides the Theory of Change (ToC) as a mechanism for the sustainable financing of the PA estate in NSW, identifying six pathways to change: government support, institutional effectiveness, appropriate business model, strategic planning and innovation, communication and advocacy, and collaboration and partnerships. It demonstrates how the success of each pathway depends on a suite of enabling conditions which help to dismantle the impediments to the sustainable financing of the PA estate. The ToC is intended to guide actions to address the sustainable financing of the PA estate and to achieve the overall impact of the effective management of PAs with respect to conservation and other aligned objectives.

The ToC presented in the paper is focused on NSW, however it considers policy and management implications and lessons from the case study that can be applied to PAs in an international context.





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