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Calculating cost-effective conservation



Calculating cost-effective conservation

Credit: University of Queensland

Maintaining existing conservation areas may be more cost-effective than expansion, according to the new research led by The University of Queensland.


The Study, Ice Vanessa Adams from UQ's School of Biological Sciences, modeled data from protected areas around the globe, comparing the impact of expanding protected areas, versus improved protected area management.

"Protected areas are seen as a cornerstone of our global conservation approach," Adams said.

"They can keep important areas of intact and largely threat-free, to protect biodiversity.

"But the limited conservation funds and shortfalls in funding for existing protected management needs, and the critical question is:"

To answer this question, Dr. Adams and her team used and 'dynamic landscape model'.

"This type of modeling allows us to capture what we think are essential defining factors about the landscape," she said.

"It includes variables like the amount of land protected or available for protection, or processes that cause change, like threatening degradation of the land or the act of purchasing land to expand protected areas."

The team soon discovered that in contrast to the patterns of most nations, which tend to focus on expansion rather than management, is the better first investment.

"Management provides immediate biodiversity benefits that, for many realistic scenarios, are more valuable than future benefits achieved by expansion," she said.

"This confirms what we have seen on the ground for some time – protected area managers do not have adequate funding, staff, or time to support required management actions, like fencing protected area boundaries, removing weeds and prescribed burns."

"We are seeing continued species declines both inside and outside of protected areas, meaning they are simply not effective without adequate investment in threat management.

Despite this misdirection of funds, Dr. Adams recognizes that there are still many good examples of protected area management delivering positive impacts for species.

"Our work in Kakadu National Park (pictured above) has shown that the investment in the current mimosa control and eradication program has avoided 58sq km of infestations – keeping the floodplains healthy and supporting a special species like the magpie geese.

"Other examples include feral predator eradication, or putting in place predator-free fenced, which have saved species from extinction.

"In the end we must realize that, rather than endlessly expand our spaces with our limited resources, we should be splitting budgets across both expansion and management, so that there is always adequate money for management.

"Otherwise we're going to have to say goodbye to more of our precious species."

The research has been published in Nature Sustainability.


Time for a new global protected area


More information:
Vanessa M. Adams et al. Weighing the benefits of expanding protected areas versus managing existing ones Nature Sustainability (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41893-019-0275-5

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University of Queensland

Citation:
                                                 Calculating Cost-Effective Conservation (2019, April 29)
                                                 retrieved 29 April 2019
                                                 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-cost-effective.html

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