Progress in improving the protection of species and habitats in Australia

Lissa M Barr, James Watson; Hugh P Possingham; Takuya Iwamura; Richard Fuller, (in press). Progress in improving the protection of species and habitats in Australia. Biological Conservation. Accepted April 5th. Historically, protected areas were often designated using criteria other than biodiversity conservation as the primary objective. With the emergence of the science of systematic conservation planning, the designation of new protected areas is increasingly made with explicit conservation objectives in mind. However, assessments of the performance of protected area systems typically include all protected areas, regardless of when they were designated, potentially obscuring recent improv

Oxford and the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) workshop

For the month of June I was very fortunate to visit E.J. Milner-Gulland’s lab – the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) at the University of Oxford. While there I helped organise the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) workshop, the aim of which was to allow early career researchers the opportunity to interact with other conservation scientists and to learn key career skills. It was also a great opportunity to visit Oxford and take in all the beautiful scenery and historic buildings. This included one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, the Turf Tavern, where Australian Premiere Bob Hawk set a Guinness world record for beer sculling as well as the Eagle and Child Pub,

Formulating smart commitments on biodiversity: lessons from the Aichi Targets

Butchart, S., Di Marco, M. and J.E.M. Watson (in press). Formulating smart commitments on biodiversity: lessons from the Aichi Targets. Conservation Letters. Accepted 28th June 2016. The world is currently not on course to achieve most of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Targets to address biodiversity loss. One challenge for those implementing actions to achieve them may be the complexity and lack of clarity in the wording of the targets, which also make it difficult to stimulate and quantify progress. Drawing on experience in developing and measuring indicators to assess progress toward targets, we identify four key issues: ambiguity, quantifiability, complexity, and redundan

Conservation planning for Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique: a collaboration between WCS Mozambiqu

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is currently managing the Niassa National Reserve (NNR) in Northern Mozambique. It is an ambitious project with the potential to make a significant and lasting contribution to African conservation, however the challenges are immense. WCS is currently developing an updated management plan for Niassa Reserve, and teamed up with Green Fire Science (GFS), who have been providing technical and scientific support for the planning process. This work is part of my (James Allan's) PhD research, and has been predominantly supported by Assoc Prof James Watson and Dr Maina Mbui. It is an example of GFS's efforts to work between academia and management, ensuring

Seeking convergence on the key concepts in ‘no net loss’ policy

Bull, J.W., Gordon, A., Watson, J.E.M and M. Maron (2016). Seeking convergence on the key concepts in ‘no net loss’ policy. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12726 Biodiversity conservation policies incorporating a no net loss (NNL) principle are being implemented in many countries. However, there are linguistic and conceptual inconsistencies in the use of terms underlying these NNL policies. We identify inconsistencies that emerge in the usage of eight key terms and phrases associated with NNL policies: biodiversity, frames of reference (i.e. baselines, counterfactuals), no net loss, mitigation hierarchy, biodiversity offset, in-kind/out-of-kind, direct/indirect and multipl

Interactions between biodiversity offsets and protected area commitments: avoiding perverse outcomes

Economic growth is often in conflict with environmental goals. Biodiversity offsetting attempts to resolve this conflict by requiring industries to compensate for the biodiversity loss they cause, by generating an equivalent biodiversity gain elsewhere. Offsets for environmental impacts are increasingly being seen as a way to help meet preexisting conservation targets, such as those relating to the establishment and management of protected areas. We examine how using offsets to meet a state or organization's genuine commitments, which are not contingent on the offsets, results in no additional conservation benefit. In this case, either the offset or the preexisting commitment is invalid. For

Challenges in assessing the vulnerability of species to climate change to inform conservation action

Butt, N. H.P. Possingham, C. De Los Rios, R. Maggini, R.A. Fuller, S.L. Maxwell, J.E.M. Watson (in press) Challenges in assessing the vulnerability of species to climate change to inform conservation actions. Biological Conservation. Accepted April 15th. 2016 Understanding climate change impacts on species is vital for correctly estimating their extinction risk and choosing appropriate conservation actions. We perceive four common challenges that hamper conservation planning for species affected by climate change: (i) only considering climate exposure in assessments of vulnerability to climate change, ignoring the two other components of vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptive capacity); (ii

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