Stakeholder Analysis for Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Conservation in Oakland County Parks

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2015-04-24

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Abstract

The North American Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has declined by 90% in the last twenty years. Scientists cite a number of factors for their decrease, including changing pesticide use, weather, and habitat loss. In December 2014, the negative trend prompted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate a status review of the Monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.

Given their relatively large land-holdings in developed landscapes, parklands could serve as important habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Park management and interpretive strategies can help shape public attitudes about the environment. This study uses stakeholder analysis to research perceptions and priorities for addressing pollinator conservation at Oakland County Parks and Recreation (OCPR). OCPR manages 13 parks encompassing 6,701 acres, including 3,146 acres of natural areas in southeastern Michigan. This research answers the following questions to assist OCPR in implementing conservation actions that appropriately engage internal and external stakeholders.

  1. Who are the stakeholders involved with Monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation in Oakland County?
  2. What is the extent of current Monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation both internally and externally?
  3. What are external stakeholder perceptions for OCPR’s priorities in Monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation?
  4. How can stakeholder values and interests be integrated into program design for an Oakland County pollinator conservation plan?
  5. How do local park efforts relate to national conservation programs?

The methods section reviews stakeholder theory and its application in natural resource management and program design. Past research indicates that stakeholder actions can be coordinated in ways to maximize the efficacy and efficiency of a system. Through an analytical categorization, stakeholders were segmented to show their relationship to the goal as well as their available resources to appropriately coordinate actions to achieve conservation objectives across the entire Oakland County park system. Assessing stakeholder power and influence revealed latent opportunities for enhanced communications and coordination.

Data was collected through semi-structured phone interviews with internal and external stakeholders in regards to their knowledge, perceptions and priorities. Internal stakeholder interviews included ten staff persons across OCPR departments. External stakeholders included 12 representatives from pollinator conservation organizations at the local, state and national levels. Transcribed interviews were coded and ranked to reveal common themes in rationale, management strategies, and barriers that informed the analysis.

Results indicate that many pollinator actions are in place, yet OCPR could coordinate them more purposefully through a cross-functional team to address education, management and communication facets of conservation issues. In addition, many external stakeholders lacked awareness of OCPR’s current pollinator management efforts. This reveals an opportunity for OCPR to lead by example through a two-year communications campaign around Monarch conservation to educate and drive public interest in natural resource management.

Establishing new Monarch habitat rated highly among all stakeholders. They also thought parks played a critical role in public education and as a demonstration site. Results ranked the following stakeholder priorities highest: creating new habitat by seeding naturalized areas or no-mow zones with milkweed; certification of butterfly gardens, bioswales and other appropriate plantings as Waystations; training and encouraging park patrons to engage in conservation actions at their home; and continuing the North American Butterfly Association count and expanding citizen science efforts.

Lastly, this research reveals opportunities at a national-level to engage parks in meeting conservation objectives through a voluntary environmental program around establishing habitat and public education. This study suggests that developing a “Monarchs in the Parks” certification program through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) will multiply outreach efforts and habitat creation to engage parks in taking action to achieve conservation outcomes to meet objectives of the North American Monarch Conservation Plan.

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Appel, Lisa (2015). Stakeholder Analysis for Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Conservation in Oakland County Parks. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9656.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.