Clear and transparent decision-making is fundamental to the long-term success of any conservation management project. These decisions include a) identifying the habitats and species that should be prioritised for management and monitoring resources, and b) listing these habitats and species in priority order. These should be dispassionate decisions, ideally made on the basis of a logical process and not influenced by personal bias.
Conservation bodies are often responsible for directly managing, or overseeing the management of, sites of conservation interest. Without exception, the resources available for doing this are limited. With so many threatened habitats and species and limited resources for management and monitoring, we need to develop a system that identifies the habitat(s) or species of primary conservation importance on each site, and then use that information to identify the sites of conservation priority. One way to do this is to develop a scoring system based on the international, national and regional resource for each protected habitat, taking into account the species of conservation importance dependent on each habitat. This would dispassionately identify the conservation priority on each site. An example of this approach can be found here.
This approach could be expanded to take other key attributes into account, such as the area coverage of a certain habitat (or size of the species population) on the site, the potential to increase the area of the habitat within the site, and the potential to expand the habitat / species into adjacent land parcels outside the site.
Without a dispassionate and transparent approach to prioritising our resource allocation for conservation management and monitoring, we run the risk of management discontinuity every time that a new conservation manager is appointed. We also run the risk of inadvertently discriminating against some ‘unfashionable’ habitats and species on all protected sites.
Links to examples of good practice
- Hurford, C. (2017). Decision making and prioritisation for nature conservation. Opera Corcontica 54, Suppl. 1. [in Czech].
- Hurford, C. (2006). Identifying the conservation priority: using limited resources to best effect. In: Hurford, C., Schneider, M. (eds) (2006) Monitoring nature conservation in cultural habitats: A practical guide and case studies. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
- Usher, M.B. (1973) Biological Management and Conservation: theory application and planning. Chapman and Hall.