I am working to ensure that global conservation policy is forward looking and targeted at what counts: biodiversity outcomes on the ground, for the long-term.
Global biodiversity conservation goals are catalytic, shaping the behaviour of individuals, governments and non-governmental organisations. Simple targets are attractive, but when poorly designed they result in perverse outcomes (unintended consequences).
In an exciting collaboration with colleagues at WWF-US, IUCN, UQ, JCU, the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, and others, I am working to ensure that Aichi Target 11, among others CBD targets, meets conservation goals, rather than simply the letter of the target, through interdisciplinary research – combining psychology, decision science, ecology, political science, and the expertise of local practitioners.
“Target 11: By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.”
In the case of Target 11, the simple measurable nature of the % coverage component of the target, makes it more attractive than the more difficult to measure other elements – which often come at greater financial, social, and political cost. We challenge nations to go beyond “hectares covered” and towards meeting the underlying goal of avoiding biodiversity loss, and our research seeks to understand how to better design targets and reporting systems at national and local scales so that they motivate actions that meet conservation goals. We also wish to understand incentives that motivate local practitioners to collect and report the information needed to track progress in halting biodiversity decline.
To this end we have begun a discussion to address these issues on social media, in the press and through a series of publications (below) #notjustarea #expansionnotenough
To share your stories about outcomes in your local area, region, or nation, so we can better protect biodiversity, please share on twitter with the #notjustarea tag
The IUCN taskforce on Other Effective Area Based Conservation Measures (of which I am a member), is working to define the role of place-based conservation measures outside Protected Areas, including Private and Indigenous protected areas globally.
Watson, J. E. M., E. S. Darling, O. Venter, M. Maron, J. Walston, H. P. Possingham, N. Dudley, M. Hockings, M. D. Barnes and T. M. Brooks (2015) Bolder science needed now for protected areas. Conservation Biology. Early View Online.