Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Leading scientists design new framework for biodiversity conservation

15.07.2004


Current conservation planning may be hindering not helping endangered wildlife - opportunistic land purchases may be best bet for highly threatened species



A new study published in the August issue of the journal Ecology Letters shows that elaborate modeling efforts used to guide land conservation result in plans that are rarely achievable in the real world--and may actually be counter-productive to achieving long term protection of plants and animals.

"Conservation agencies are spending ten’s of millions of dollars on systematic planning, but it doesn’t translate to saving wildlife," says author Sandy Andelman, Deputy Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis where the study was conducted. "We need to reallocate dollars spent on ’perfect world’ planning scenarios to aggressively pursue opportunities to safeguard habitat for species that are most in need."


Creating networks of parks and protected areas is a cornerstone of global conservation strategies. Yet 40% of highly threatened vertebrates – mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles – do not occur in a single protected area around the globe.

Wanting to reverse the rapid decline of species, both public and private conservation groups – from the Park Service to The Nature Conservancy – face a constant dilemma of when, where, and how to invest limited funds to maximize conservation benefits. In attempts to have a scientific foundation for these decisions, policy makers have invested in complex processes to design blueprints for the optimal configuration of protected area networks.

Ironically, the authors of the new study - leading mathematicians and conservation planners – are the very people who have been at the forefront of these modeling efforts. Frustrated with continued species loss, they took a step back to figure out how to improve the system. Surprisingly they found that an opportunistic approach – informed by basic scientific information about the abundance and distribution of plants and animals, but heavily focused on how landowners make decisions - will have a better shot at protecting biodiversity over time.

"If it is possible to conserve exactly the sites you want – and do it immediately - a conservation blueprint makes sense," says Andelman. "In marine environments, where there is public ownership, this may be possible, but this situation is rare on land. Conservation has to be staged over time, and it is difficult to predict when and where you will have willing sellers."

"For the last 20 years we thought we needed to be more systematic and we became really good at identifying priority areas for protection without taking into account opportunities in the real world - the rise and fall of property values and who might be influenced to sell," says coauthor Hugh Possingham of Queensland University, a leading conservation biologist and mathematician. "We’ve taken a passive theoretical approach instead of getting out there and actively seizing opportunities."

The scientists now call for a new approach to conservation - one designed more like a dynamic business plan than a static scientific assessment. Their study provides a new framework for estimating the benefits of paying a premium to acquire important sites for biodiversity –and emphasizes the importance of being opportunistic and acting fast.

"This approach would allow conservation agencies to move quickly and effectively to protect habitat," says Possingham. "Redirecting funds could help managers offer financial or other incentives to land owners, helping turn years of planning into actual protection for species that are running out of time."

The authors state that their results do not diminish the need for accurate information on the distribution of plants and animals and the activities that threaten their survival.

"Just like any business plan, we need the best background research we can get – in this case the basic ecological data about abundance and distribution of plants and animals that is still sparse – but it needs to be melded with a better understanding of changing market dynamics and landowner’s choices," says Possingham.

"Developers and industry do a far better job of predicting land availability and creating investment opportunities than do conservationists," says Andelman. "Right now conservation planners aren’t even using realistic data for the cost of land."

Andelmen and Possingham are now leading the charge to revamp this static approach. They are developing new collaborations with economists to incorporate market uncertainty and bet-hedging strategies – methods routinely used by investment bankers and stock brokers – into conservation plans.

"It goes beyond conservation science to human psychology – figuring out how we can get the pieces of land with the biggest conservation impact. It requires data conservationists have not historically collected: property values and understanding what will motivate a landowner to sell, and it changes the places that become priorities. In an ever changing world, this will have a better success rate in helping the 40% of threatened vertebrates that have no habitat protection."

"For 20 years the theory of conservation planning proceeded on the assumption that the world is static," says Possingham. "Assuming the world is static, economically and ecologically, is absurd. This paper ushers in a new era of conservation planning theory and practice that can account for uncertainty and dynamics in the real world."

| EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>