Reconciling ‘irreplaceability’ and ‘importance’

Di Marco M., et al. (2016) Quantifying the relative irreplaceability of important bird and biodiversity areas. Conservation Biology 30: 392-402. The expansion of the world’s protected area network is often held up as a measure of global progress towards effective biodiversity conservation. However, having more protected areas does not necessarily mean better biodiversity outcomes. In the past, two main approaches have been used to identify priority sites for biodiversity conservation: one based on species thresholds, such as those used to identify Important Bird and biodiversity Areas (IBAs), the other based on sites' complementarity, where sites for protection are identified to complement,

Filling in Biodiversity threat gaps

L. N. Joppa, B. O'Connor, P. Visconti, C. Smith, J. Geldmann, M. Hoffmann, J. E. M. Watson, S. H. M. Butchart, M. Virah-Sawmy, B. S. Halpern, S. E. Ahmed, A. Balmford, W. J. Sutherland, M. Harfoot, C. Hilton-Taylor, W. Foden, E. Di Minin, S. Pagad, P. Genovesi, J. Hutton, N. D. Burgess (2016). Filling in Biodiversity threat gaps. Science, 352, 418-418. The diversity of life on Earth—which provides vital services to humanity (1)—stems from the difference between rates of evolutionary diversification and extinction. Human activities have shifted the balance (2): Species extinction rates are an estimated 1000 times the “background” rate (3) and could increase to 10,000 times the background rate

AMOS Conference - Urban Heat Island

I recently attended the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) conference at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. The event lasted for 4 days and included sessions on urban climate, extreme events, and general climatology. I presented in the lightning round and submitted a poster on a systematic review into the impacts of climate change and urbanization on the urban heat island. The lightning round lasted 1 minute, and gave me the chance to present the key points from my poster to a large audience. Afterwards, I discussed my research in more detail at the poster session. My main interest was in the urban climate sessions, and I attended all of them on the first day. I had the

Designing Climate-Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks

Decision making for the conservation and management of coral reef biodiversity requires an understanding of spatial variability and distribution of reef habitat types. GFS members Joseph Maina and Kendall Jones, in collaboration with WCS Kenya, recently developed the first high resolution coral reef habitat maps for the entire Kenyan coastline. These maps were used to evaluate the effectiveness of present management areas at representing coral reef habitat diversity. Unlike other regions where Marine Spatial Planning is a fairly common practice, this is one of the first marine spatial prioritisations in the region, where high dependence on marine resources is a major impediment to the design

Integrating human responses to climate change into conservation vulnerability assessments and adapta

With the announcement of the 2015 Paris Agreement, things are looking up for climate policy and on-the-ground action in the coming years. This is good news for vulnerable human communities who are already responding to climate change impacts. To date, human responses to climate change have had variable impacts on biodiversity. Restoring mangrove forests and coral reefs and ‘greening’ urban areas can beneficial, while increased shipping and oil exploration in the Arctic, increased hunting efforts in the Tropics, and constructing sea walls in low lying nations can put additional pressure on climate vulnerable species. While we wait for greenhouse gas emissions to reduce and stabilise, people

Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity Offsetting

Maron, M., Ives, C.D., Kujala, H., Bull, J.W., Maseyk, F., Bekessy, S., Gordon, A., Watson, J.E.M., Lentini, P., Gibbons, P., Possingham, H.P., Hobbs, R.J., Keith, D.A., Wintle, B.A., and M.C. Evans (2016). Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity Offsetting. BioScience. The rising popularity of biodiversity offsetting as a tool for balancing biodiversity losses from development with equivalent gains elsewhere has sparked debate on many fronts. The fundamental questions are the following: Is offsetting good, bad, or at least better than the status quo for biodiversity conservation outcomes, and what do we need to know to decide? We present a concise synthesis of th

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