Conservation planning has historically been restricted to planning within single realms (marine, terrestrial or freshwater). Our paper reviews progress and gaps in integrated terrestrial-freshwater planning. We propose a conceptual framework for considering cobenefits and tradeoffs between multiple realms and identify challenges and opportunities associated with the application of our framework.
Traditionally, prioritization of conservation actions has been undertaken without considering the social-ecological connections between terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms. This approach can lead to inadequate management and suboptimal use of conservation resources because some threats originate beyond conservation areas (e.g. land-based threats to aquatic ecosystems) and managing certain areas (e.g. protecting riparian vegetation) can achieve multiple conservation objectives, including those related to values upstream (e.g. conservation of terrestrial species) and downstream (e.g. maintaining water quality within rivers). Planning for linked realms can also help to manage ecological processes that sustain biodiversity and ecosystem functions at regional scales (e.g. connectivity). Recently progress has been made in approaches for cross-realm planning which may enhance the ability to effectively manage processes that sustain biodiversity and ecosystem functions and thus minimize threats more efficiently. Current advances, however, have not optimally accounted for the fact that individual conservation management actions often have impacts across realms. We advance the existing cross-realm planning literature by presenting a conceptual framework for considering both co-benefits and tradeoffs between multiple realms (specifically freshwater and terrestrial). This conceptual framework is founded on a review of the shared threats and management actions across realms and existing literature on cross-realm planning to highlight recent research achievements and gaps. We focus on cross-realm integration for terrestrial and freshwater environments because this is critical for effective catchment planning and because linkages between these realms have been neglected in cross-realm studies relative to terrestrial–marine connections. We use the Daly River catchment (Northern Territory, Australia) as a case study to illustrate our conceptual framework and exemplify cobenefits and tradeoffs associated with cross-realm planning. We identify current challenges and opportunities associated with the application of our framework and consider the more general prospects for cross-realm planning.
The paper is now freely available online at Conservation Letters.