Landscape Species

Since conservation practitioners do not have enough funds to conserve all places and all species, they must prioritise where to put their limited resources to work. Setting these priorities requires information about the distribution of species and ecosystems, however our knowledge of earths biodiversity is poor, with approximately 86% of land species and 91% of marine species still undiscovered. To overcome this lack of knowledge, conservation practitioners often use the species which they do have information on as surrogates for other species, with the aim being that conserving surrogate species also acts to conserve other species. One example of a surrogacy-based conservation is the Lands

Oil exploration in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is one of Uganda’s Flagship conservation areas. Sitting between the Albert and Victoria Niles, it holds roughly 400 of Uganda’s 600 Lions and hosts large herds of Ugandan Kob (a popular type of antelope that appears on the coat of arms of Uganda). With the recent discovery of oil reserves under the park, trade-offs between conservation and development have emerged as significant drivers of local conservation management decisions. James and Sean had the pleasure of spending a week working with WCS Uganda’s lion research team, studying sites where oil exploration and drilling have already taken place, and looking at the biodiversity and ecosystem impacts to date.

Human-lion conflict in a drought-stricken landscape

The South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) community conservation program in Olkirimatian Group Ranch aims to simultaneously conserve wildlife and the Maasai pastoral lifestyle by dividing the Olkirimatian Group Ranch into areas for grazing, agriculture and conservation. SORALO provide guidelines for landscape use, and also collaborates with research programs to better understand lion movements, their role in the ecosystem, and their importance in maintaining Maasai culture. The program is viewed as a successful case of livestock and wildlife coexisting with low levels of conflict, but also demonstrates that human responses to extreme weather can undermine conservation successes. Duri

Marine Conservation in Mombasa

I recently spent two weeks in Mombasa, Kenya with Dr. Tim McClanahan, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society coral reefs program in East Africa. Tim and I (among many others) are working on a project examining the potential benefits of international collaboration for coral conservation in the Western Indian Ocean, so it was fantastic to see the conservation challenges in the area first-hand. What became very clear to me is that conservation plans in Africa must be fine enough to capture local threats and challenges, and that broad scale planning alone is doomed to fail. I also spent some time running a GIS training workshop for the WCS staff, and ground-truthing coral reef habitat ma

Sustainability: root targets in consensus

Sean Maxwell, James Watson and Jonathan Rhodes recently teamed up with colleagues from Imperial College London, Bangor University, University of Stirling and University of Exeter to write a short article about the how the current UN Sustainable Development Goals are being negotiated. The article was published in Nature, and can be found here.

Performance and potential of protected areas

Watson, J.E.M., Dudley, N., Segan, D.B. and M. Hockings (2014). The performance and potential of protected areas. Nature, 515: 19-25. James Watson and his colleagues have published a review of the performance and potential of protected areas in Nature. James discusses the paper in the video below. The key message of the review is that the financial support for protected areas is dwarfed by the benefits that they provide, but these returns depend on effective management. A step change involving increased recognition, funding, planning and enforcement is urgently needed if protected areas are going to fulfill their potential.

Global mismatch between greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of climate change

Althor, G., Watson, J.E.M. and R. A. Fuller (2016). Global mismatch between greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of climate change. Scientific Reports, 6, 20281; doi: 10.1038/srep20281. Countries export much of the harm created by their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the Earth’s atmosphere intermixes globally. Yet, the extent to which this leads to inequity between GHG emitters and those impacted by the resulting climate change depends on the distribution of climate vulnerability. Here, we determine empirically the relationship between countries’ GHG emissions and their vulnerability to negative effects of climate change. In line with the results of other studies, we find an enorm

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