Conservation Psychology addresses human consumption patterns and other unsustainable behaviours, which is a critical part of conservation as without doing so, much of the on-ground conservation work will be in vain as climate change and pollution creates dramatic changes in the landscape. Even today, events that were thought of as once in a hundred year events are becoming standard with devastating effects. Without a change in the way we as humans think, shop, consume and behave the continued existence of many species- and ultimately ourselves - remains tenuous.
Although Conservation Psychology primarily focuses on human attitudes and behaviour, Dr Carla Litchfield has supervised numerous applied animal behaviour projects conducted by Honours and PhD students since 2006 at Australian zoos and sanctuaries. These projects have focused on behaviour and cognition of animals, applying principles of psychology to enhance psychological wellbeing or ‘quality of life’ and ensure maintenance of behavioural diversity through enrichment (food enrichment, non-food enrichment, touch screens); and to further our understanding of problem-solving abilities in non-human animals.
With a focus on ethics, welfare and sustainability, we work closely with conservation practitioners, conservation educators, tourism operators and other stakeholders to ensure that our applied research, evaluation of community-conservation and wildlife tourism programs, is relevant and offers practical recommendations for improved management and welfare of both wildlife and humans. We collaborate with researchers from other disciplines, utilise a variety of methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), focus on local and global issues, and recognise that policy makers need evidence-based research for effective conservation management.
While we strive to publish our research in high impact peer-reviewed journals, we also believe strongly that our work must be easily communicated to everyday people, including children, to facilitate responsible connection to nature and participation in quality citizen science projects.