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 on our site, and if so, how the examples on our sites fit into it. In reality, the answer is probably that currently such a conservation strategy does not exist. Therefore, we should consider how the examples on our sites contribute to the regional or national resources, though 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 resource, we then need to consider how best to secure these in the future. The most simplistic, and commonest approach, is to focus resources on the most important locations for these habitats and species, and there is a case for doing this. However, if we have limited funds available for managing these sites, perhaps we should also consider other factors when prioritising our resource allocation, 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 be considering what our conservation strategy should be to protect these habitats and species into the medium and long term future.
Links to examples of good practice
- 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