When considering the conservation strategy, first we should ascertain whether there is already a national or international conservation strategy for the protected habitats and species in our site, and if so, how these aspects of our site fit into it. In reality, the answer is probably that currently, such a conservation strategy does not exist. Therefore, we should consider how the elements of our sites contribute to the regional or national resources. This should be considered anyway as part of the prioritisation process (see section on ‘Identifying the conservation priority‘).
After determining how the protected habitats and species contribute to the regional resources, we then need to consider how best to secure these in the future. The most simplistic, and common approach is to focus funding resources on the most important locations for these habitats and species. However, if limited funds are available for managing these sites, perhaps other factors when prioritising our resource allocation should also be considered, such as:
- How isolated the protected habitats and species sites are from the next closest stands/populations.
- Whether there is potential to increase the extent and quality of the habitat or expand the species population within the site.
- Whether there is the potential to expand the extent of habitat/range of the species into adjacent and currently unprotected land parcels.
The critical questions centre around whether the available resources should be priotirised for sites where there is the potential for expansion, both within the sites and, perhaps most importantly, outside it. Furthermore, if we only have the resources to manage three sites, should it always be those with the highest potential for expansion and survival into the medium / long-term future, even if stronger species populations currently persist on more isolated sites? Whatever we decide, we should consider what our conservation strategy should be, to protect these habitats and species in the medium and long-term future.
Scope for habitat expansion
A management plan for a protected area of whatever shape, size or designation typically includes some description of its important features, evaluation of their condition and what factors influence them, combining that information to draw up management objectives and a statement of the actions required. Specific plan formats often include some or all of these elements but may use different names, or vary in the order in which they are dealt with or the emphasis put on particular sections.
Plans also vary in terms of their intended audience: some are for conservation professionals only, others are for stakeholders as well, or for the wider public. The style in which the plan is written will obviously differ according to the audience it’s written for.
Find more guidance on selecting an appropriate conservation strategy here.
Links to additional information
- Hurford C. (2017). Decision making and prioritisation for nature conservation. Opera Corcontica 54, Suppl. 1. [in Czech].
- Usher, M.B. (1973). Biological Management and Conservation: theory application and planning. Chapman and Hall.
- Example National Nature Reserves in England - Site management policy
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