Facilitating dynamic and inclusive biodiversity conservation in Britain: an anthropocene perspective.

Published online
04 Aug 2022
Published by
Natural England
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Thomas, C. D. & Hill, J. K. & Ward, C. & Hatfield, J. H.
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We propose an approach to conservation centred on achieving positive future trajectories of dynamic change, applied to all locations and species, and based on societal inclusiveness. Strategies to facilitate change. We take an Anthropocene perspective, in which human society and biodiversity have been inextricably linked for over 10,000 years, and continuing biodiversity change is inevitable. The challenge is to identify circumstances under which change is acceptable or beneficial, without being tied to specific historic baselines. We outline a Resist-Accept-Facilitate (RAF) framework that could be applied to all conservation activities, from high-level planning and measurement (indicators) through to practical land and species management, to ensure that the facilitation of future biodiversity benefits receives as much attention as the resistance of change. Everywhere is important. Different places are important for different things, such as particular species or ecosystem services, and people vary in how they value these features. We suggest a perspective whereby we evaluate what every area is most important for, and what they could be most important for in future by considering possible trajectories of biodiversity and ecosystem change. We propose zoning any region of interest, such as the UK, and applying the RAF framework in an inclusive manner to develop conservation strategies that are appropriate in each location and zone. This RAF approach will reconcile different conservation philosophies (such as traditional management, land-sharing/sparing, rewilding, novel ecosystems, ecosystem services, human wellbeing) because different conservation outcomes will emerge in different zones. Enabling species to move. Genes and species undertake changes to their abundances and distributions in response to climatic and other environmental changes. We suggest that trans situ conservation be developed as a complement to traditional in situ (sites in the wild) and ex situ (in captivity) conservation. Trans situ conservation primarily involves Accept and Facilitate interventions within the RAF framework. It requires consideration of the connectedness and permeability of regions (facilitating colonisation for a majority of species and genes) and the value of new populations of colonising species and novel communities that arise from species range shifts. Trans situ conservation also considers the potential to translocate (assisted colonisation) species and genes that are unable to shift their distributions without direct intervention, highlighting the transnational needs of globally-threatened species rather than locally-rare ones whose future is secure elsewhere. For everyone. The justification for conservation commonly focuses attention on the benefits that individuals and society derive from the natural world, yet the benefits are not shared equitably. The RAF approach asks people from a wide range of backgrounds 'what they want' from local landscapes so as to inform the development of more inclusive approaches to conservation both now and in the future. We identify ways in which the processes of conservation could incorporate an increased diversity of perspectives, whilst continuing to be informed by data and professional expertise.

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