FAR-sighted conservation.

Published online
17 Jan 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Thomas, C. D. & Hill, J. K. & Ward, C. & Hatfield, J. H.
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(1). Conservation targets that reference historical expectations, such as maintaining specified areas of intact ecosystems, restoring degraded ones or maintaining the historic distributions of species, may not be realistic in the context of ongoing environmental change, whereas targets that aspire to accommodate the complex realities of the human-altered and changing world tend to be too vague to implement. (2). Using the first three recently proposed Convention on Biological Diversity post- 2020 global biodiversity Action Targets as context, we suggest a policy framework that evaluates how we might shift from an emphasis on resisting sometimes inevitable change to the development of positive directions of change for people and biodiversity. Our Anthropocene approach builds on the fact that all ecosystems have already been shaped by interactions with people and that ongoing change is inevitable. (3). We outline a Facilitate-Accept-Resist (FAR) framework for all levels of conservation decision-making and actions, ranging from overall conservation strategies (planning, setting targets, monitoring change, selecting indicators) to the conservation of places (sites, ecosystems, landscapes) and species, and to the provision of ecosystem services and human well-being. For each potential decision, the approach evaluates whether, for whom and how one might facilitate, accept or resist particular changes. We highlight the value of inclusive engagement in the process to ensure that benefits from biodiversity are equitably shared. (4). The CBD Action targets reflect tensions between maintaining historic states of nature and the Anthropocene reality of integrating people with nature and accepting change. The challenge is to operationalize the inclusivity, integration and change elements of the targets whilst not 'abandoning' locations that many conservationists consider to be key places for wildlife. The FAR framework represents a way to operationalize decision-making in the face of this tension, so that the facilitation and acceptance of positive biodiversity change is adopted at least as frequently as change is resisted.

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