Sarah Clement is a Lecturer in Environmental Management and Planning at the department of Geography and Planning. Sarah worked as an environmental planning consultant, researcher, and environmental policy advisor for 10 years in the USA and Australia, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at Michigan State University (USA). Sarah undertook her doctoral research at Murdoch University (Australia), in the Department of Environmental and Conservation Sciences. Her research evaluated current approaches to biodiversity conservation in two highly valued landscapes in Australia, developing and applying an original conceptual framework for diagnosing and designing adaptive biodiversity institutions. Focusing on the landscape scale, she developed governance reforms to address areas where institutions were not fit for purpose, using a pragmatic approach to reform that builds on current strengths, while identifying the large-scale changes required to foster adaptive capacity to manage climate change and other major drivers of biodiversity decline. These reforms were tested through a series of scenario planning exercises, involving key stakeholders and interdisciplinary researchers. This novel approach to scenario planning integrated governance drivers into social-ecological systems models in a detailed way, in order to understand the effect of governance reform on biodiversity outcomes in the future. This doctoral and collaborative research was conducted as part of the Landscapes and Policy Research hub (http://www.lifeatlarge.edu.au/), an interdisciplinary collaboration across seven research institutions, examining how biodiversity conservation can be integrated into landscape-scale and bioregional planning.
A strong theme throughout her work is how governance, as well as planning and policy, can enable better ecological, socio-economic, and democratic outcomes, particularly during periods of rapid environmental and social change. Building on her doctoral research, her current research focuses on the role of governance in the management of novel and hybrid ecosystems, which are emerging due to climate change, land use change, and other major drivers of environmental change.