Friday June 21, 11:00 to 12:00 hrs (AEST)
JCU Location: Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
UQ Video link: RSVP Karin at firstname.lastname@example.org
UWA Video link: RSVP Rose at email@example.com
Abstract: Despite the rapid expansion of the global protected area network over recent decades, Earth’s biodiversity continues to decline at an alarming rate. These declines, along with evidence to suggest that protected areas are often biased towards residual locations (areas with minimal economic value), necessitate a renewed approach to conservation planning that considers ‘impact’. Conservation impact is the difference an intervention makes compared to a counterfactual scenario where no intervention is applied. However, impact is rarely a consideration in modern approaches to spatial conservation planning. Instead, focus is generally placed on tangential objectives, such as maximising the number of species in the protected area network, or representing a range of biodiversity features (e.g. bioregions). My thesis aims to develop spatial conservation prioritisation methods that incorporate impact estimation. Using these methods, I assess the efficacy of several widely adopted approaches to conservation prioritisation, and develop new, systematic approaches that effectively maximise impact. In doing so, I show that many of the modern approaches to spatial conservation prioritisation are inherently counterproductive to achieving impact, and that in order to effectively mitigate ongoing biodiversity losses it is necessary to develop evidence-based strategies that are designed within an impact framework.
Ed completed his Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland. For his honours project, he studied the unique ecology of rare semi-aquatic plants in the desert springs of Australia, which are home to some of the most endangered fish and plant species in the world. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Ed travelled to Tanzania to work as a field scientist surveying remote mangrove and coral reef ecosystems. After witnessing the devastation of many of these ecosystems, Ed developed an appetite for conservation research, in both terrestrial and marine habitats. Ed is now completing his PhD with the Conservation Planning Group under the supervision of Bob Pressey, Rebecca Weeks, and Mike Bode.