Two new papers from the Conservation Planning group in a recent issue of Conservation Biology:

Effects of Errors and Gaps in Spatial Data Sets on Assessment of Conservation Progress

Data on the location of existing protected areas and biological features are essential to conservation planning but are always plagued with errors. However, the impact of these errors on subsequent conservation plans has largely been ignored. In a recent paper in Conservation Biology, members of the Conservation Planning Group and colleagues at Sapienza University of Rome address this important gap by exploring the implications of multiple sources of error in reporting progress toward conservation objectives. They found that inaccuracies in data from the World Database on Protected Areas resulted in significant errors in the estimated extent of protection of a number of species; for example, the estimated extent of protection of some mammals was overestimated by 402.8 %! You can download the paper here or email Jorge Alvarez-Romero for a copy of the paper.

Visconti P, Di Marco M, ÁLvarez-Romero JG, Januchowski-Hartley SR, Pressey RL, Weeks, R. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Effects of Errors and Gaps in Spatial Data Sets on Assessment of Conservation Progress. Conservation Biology 27: 1000-1010.

Abstract: Data on the location and extent of protected areas, ecosystems, and species’ distributions are essential for determining gaps in biodiversity protection and identifying future conservation priorities. However, these data sets always come with errors in the maps and associated metadata. Errors are often overlooked in conservation studies, despite their potential negative effects on the reported extent of protection of species and ecosystems. We used 3 case studies to illustrate the implications of 3 sources of errors in reporting  progress toward conservation objectives: protected areas with unknown boundaries that are replaced by buffered centroids, propagation of multiple errors in spatial data, and incomplete protected-area data sets. As of 2010, the frequency of protected areas with unknown boundaries in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) caused the estimated extent of protection of 37.1% of the terrestrial Neotropical mammals to be overestimated by an average 402.8% and of 62.6% of species to be underestimated by an average 10.9%. Estimated level of protection of the world’s coral reefs was 25% higher when using recent finer-resolution data on coral reefs as opposed to globally available coarse-resolution data. Accounting for additional data sets not yet incorporated into WDPA contributed up to 6.7% of additional protection tomarine ecosystems in the Philippines. We suggest ways for data providers to reduce the errors in spatial and ancillary data and ways for data users to mitigate the effects of these errors on biodiversity assessments.

Practical Recommendations to Help Students Bridge the Research–Implementation Gap and Promote Conservation

In the last few years there has been a lot of discussion about the lack of translation of conservation research into conservation action, the so-called ‘research-implementation gap’. During a workshop on the human dimensions of the oceans last year in Seattle, USA, some colleagues from the USA and myself were discussing the role of graduate students in bridging this ‘gap’, and decided to put our discussion down on paper. In this manuscript, we offer recommendations on how graduate students can promote real-world outcomes by engaging with stakeholders throughout the research process, and creating and institutionalizing resources that help build knowledge and skills relevant to implementation of conservation actions. The paper can be downloaded here or email Georgina Gurney for a copy.

Pietri DM, Gurney GG, Benitez-Vina N, Kuklok A, Maxwell SM, Whiting, L., Vina, M, and Jenkins, J. 2013. Practical Recommendations to Help Students Bridge the Research–Implementation Gap and Promote Conservation. Conservation Biology 27: 958-967.

Abstract: Seasoned conservation researchers often struggle to bridge the research–implementation gap and promote the translation of their work into meaningful conservation actions. Graduate students face the same problems and must contend with obstacles such as limited opportunities for relevant interdisciplinary training and a lack of institutional support for application of research results. However, students also have a crucial set of opportunities (e.g., access to academic resources outside their degree programs and opportunities to design research projects promoting collaboration with stakeholders) at their disposal to address these problems. On the basis of results of breakout discussions at a symposium on the human dimensions of the ocean, a review of the literature, and our own experiences, we devised recommendations on how graduate students can create resources within their academic institutions, institutionalize resources, and engage with stakeholders to promote real-world conservation outcomes. Within their academic institutions, graduate students should foster links to practitioners and promote knowledge and skill sharing among students. To institutionalize resources, students should cultivate student leaders and faculty sponsors, systematically document their program activities, and engage in strategic planning to promote the sustainability of their efforts. While conducting research, students should create connections to and engage actively with stakeholders in their relevant study areas and disseminate research results both to stakeholders and the broader public. Our recommendations can serve as a template for graduate students wishing to bridge the research–implementation gap, both during their current studies and in their future careers as conservation researchers and practitioners.


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