UNEP WCMC

Cambridge, United Kingdom

UNEP WCMC

Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Baker D.J.,Durham University | Hartley A.J.,UK Met Office | Burgess N.D.,UNEP WCMC | Burgess N.D.,Copenhagen University | And 5 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2015

Aim: We conduct the first assessment of likely future climate change impacts for biodiversity across the West African protected area (PA) network using climate projections that capture important climate regimes (e.g. West African Monsoon) and mesoscale processes that are often poorly simulated in general circulation models (GCMs). Location: West Africa. Methods: We use correlative species distribution models to relate species (amphibians, birds, mammals) distributions to modelled contemporary climates, and projected future distributions across the PA network. Climate data were simulated using a physically based regional climate model to dynamically downscale GCMs. GCMs were selected because they accurately reproduce important regional climate regimes and generate a range of regional climate change responses. We quantify uncertainty arising from projected climate change, modelling methodology and spatial dependency, and assess the spatial and temporal patterns of climate change impacts for biodiversity across the PA network. Results: Substantial species turnover across the network is projected for all three taxonomic groups by 2100 (amphibians = 42.5% (median); birds = 35.2%; mammals = 37.9%), although uncertainty is high, particularly for amphibians and mammals, and, importantly, increases across the century. However, consistent patterns of impacts across taxa emerge by early to mid-century, suggesting high impacts across the Lower Guinea forest. Main conclusions: Reducing (e.g. using appropriate climate projections) and quantifying uncertainty in climate change impact assessments helps clarify likely impacts. Consistent patterns of high biodiversity impacts emerge in the early and mid-century projections, while end-of-century projections are too uncertain for reliable assessments. We recommend that climate change adaptation should focus on earlier projections, where we have most confidence in species responses, rather than on end-of-century projections that are frequently used. In addition, our work suggests climate impact should consider a broad range of species, as we simulate divergent responses across taxonomic groups. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Milder J.C.,Evaluation and Research Program | Arbuthnot M.,World Wildlife Fund | Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Brooks S.E.,UNEP WCMC | And 14 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2015

Sustainability standards and certification serve to differentiate and provide market recognition to goods produced in accordance with social and environmental good practices, typically including practices to protect biodiversity. Such standards have seen rapid growth, including in tropical agricultural commodities such as cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans, and tea. Given the role of sustainability standards in influencing land use in hotspots of biodiversity, deforestation, and agricultural intensification, much could be gained from efforts to evaluate and increase the conservation payoff of these schemes. To this end, we devised a systematic approach for monitoring and evaluating the conservation impacts of agricultural sustainability standards and for using the resulting evidence to improve the effectiveness of such standards over time. The approach is oriented around a set of hypotheses and corresponding research questions about how sustainability standards are predicted to deliver conservation benefits. These questions are addressed through data from multiple sources, including basic common information from certification audits; field monitoring of environmental outcomes at a sample of certified sites; and rigorous impact assessment research based on experimental or quasi-experimental methods. Integration of these sources can generate time-series data that are comparable across sites and regions and provide detailed portraits of the effects of sustainability standards. To implement this approach, we propose new collaborations between the conservation research community and the sustainability standards community to develop common indicators and monitoring protocols, foster data sharing and synthesis, and link research and practice more effectively. As the role of sustainability standards in tropical land-use governance continues to evolve, robust evidence on the factors contributing to effectiveness can help to ensure that such standards are designed and implemented to maximize benefits for biodiversity conservation. © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology.


Lund J.F.,Copenhagen University | Burgess N.D.,UNEP WCMC | Chamshama S.A.O.,Sokoine University of Agriculture | Dons K.,Copenhagen University | And 12 more authors.
Environmental Conservation | Year: 2015

Nearly 10% of the world's total forest area is formally owned by communities and indigenous groups, yet knowledge of the effects of decentralized forest management approaches on conservation (and livelihood) impacts remains elusive. In this paper, the conservation impact of decentralized forest management on two forests in Tanzania was evaluated using a mixed method approach. Current forest condition, forest increment and forest use patterns were assessed through forest inventories, and changes in forest disturbance levels before and after the implementation of decentralized forest management were assessed on the basis of analyses of Landsat images. This biophysical evidence was then linked to changes in actual management practices, assessed through records, interviews and participatory observations, to provide a measure of the conservation impact of the policy change. Both forests in the study were found to be in good condition, and extraction was lower than overall forest increment. Divergent changes in forest disturbance levels were in evidence following the implementation of decentralized forest management. The evidence from records, interviews and participatory observations indicated that decentralized management had led to increased control of forest use and the observed divergence in forest disturbance levels appeared to be linked to differences in the way that village-level forest managers prioritized conservation objectives and forest-based livelihood strategies. The study illustrates that a mixed methods approach comprises a valid and promising way to evaluate impacts of conservation policies, even in the absence of control sites. By carefully linking policy outcomes to policy outputs, such an approach not only identifies whether such policies work as intended, but also potential mechanisms. © 2014 Foundation for Environmental Conservation.


Willis S.G.,Durham University | Foden W.,University of Witwatersrand | Baker D.J.,Durham University | Belle E.,UNEP WCMC | And 15 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

To accommodate climate-driven changes in biological communities, conservation plans are increasingly making use of models to predict species' responses to climate change. To date, species distribution models have been the most commonly used approach for assessing species' vulnerability to climate change. Biological trait-based approaches, which have emerged recently, and which include consideration of species' sensitivity and adaptive capacity, provide alternative and potentially conflicting vulnerability assessments and present conservation practitioners and planners with difficult choices. Here we discuss the differing objectives and strengths of the approaches, and provide guidance to conservation practitioners for their application. We outline an integrative methodological framework for assessing climate change impacts on species that uses both traditional species distribution modelling approaches and biological trait-based assessments. We show how these models can be used conceptually as inputs to guide conservation monitoring and planning. © 2015.


Stephenson P.J.,WWF International | Burgess N.D.,UNEP WCMC | Jungmann L.,WWF Market Transformation Initiative | Loh J.,Zoological Society of London | And 4 more authors.
Biodiversity | Year: 2015

If parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and their partners are to report effectively on progress against national, regional and global biodiversity conservation goals, data will need to be collected at multiple levels. Global data sets, many gathered using remote sensing, offer partial solutions but need to be complemented by field-level observations to provide the resolution necessary to track conservation measures in a meaningful way. This paper summarises efforts made by the conservation organisation WWF, working with partners, to integrate 10 indicators of relevance to CBD parties into its global monitoring system and to use global data sets and data from field programmes to determine progress against multi-level goals and to assess programme performance and impacts. Integration of in-situ and ex-situ data into reporting dashboards tailored to WWF’s needs allowed some degree of assessment of progress and adaptive management of the programme portfolio. Indicator trends were most favourable (on track) for protected area (PA) coverage and market share of sustainable commodities, and least favourable (worsening) for species offtake, species populations, wildlife trade, habitat fragmentation and Ecological Footprint. The most useful indicators – which could be disaggregated to provide trends at local levels relevant to WWF field programmes – were species populations, habitat cover and fragmentation, PA coverage and PA management effectiveness. However challenges remain if local and global monitoring objectives are to be aligned, including the need for increased collection of data by field projects, improved harmonisation of indicators, and greater sharing of data in formats of use to practitioners. We advocate wider adoption by governments and civil society organisations of indicators with the dual function of tracking delivery of CBD Aichi Targets as well as monitoring national, regional and ecoregional level conservation programmes, and urge more NGOs and academic bodies to support capacity building and data collection. © 2015 Biodiversity Conservancy International.


Mace G.M.,Imperial College London | Cramer W.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research | Diaz S.,National University of Cordoba | Faith D.P.,College St | And 9 more authors.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2010

The bold commitment made by the world's governments to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 will soon be tested. On the basis of the continuing declines measured by most indicators, it now seems inevitable that the outcome will be that it has not been achieved. Here, in order to build on the momentum created by the 2010 target, we propose a shift away from a large set of static targets towards a smaller number of specific targets. Specifically, we present three categories of targets (red, green and blue) with examples of each. These relate respectively to (1) those biodiversity outcomes that must be avoided to avert situations that are deleterious for people, (2) the highly valued biodiversity conservation priorities, and (3) an improved scientific understanding necessary for adaptive management now and into the future. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Hooker S.K.,University of St. Andrews | Hooker S.K.,University of La Rochelle | Canadas A.,Marine Research Center Research and Conservation | Hyrenbach K.D.,Hawaii Pacific University | And 3 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2011

The design of ecological networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) is generally based on the identification of areas of high abundance for species of conservation concern or focal biodiversity targets. We discuss the applicability of this approach to marine top predators and contend that the design of comprehensive and effective MPA networks requires the following 7 principles: (1) the use of wildlife-habitat modelling and spatial mapping approaches to develop testable model predictions of species distribution and abundance; (2) the incorporation of life-history and behavioural data into the development of these predictive habitat models; (3) the explicit assessment of threats in the design and monitoring process for single- or multi-species MPAs; (4) the serious consideration of dynamic MPA designs to encompass species which use well-defined but spatially dynamic ocean features; (5) the integration of demographic assessment in MPA planning, allowing provision of advice to policy makers, ranging from no to full protection; (6) the clear articulation of management and monitoring plans allowing retrospective evaluation of MPA effectiveness; and (7) the adoption of an adaptive management approach, essential in the light of ongoing and anticipated ecosystem changes and species range shifts in response to climate change. © Inter-Research 2011.


Banks-Leite C.,University of Sao Paulo | Banks-Leite C.,Imperial College London | Ewers R.M.,Imperial College London | Kapos V.,UNEP WCMC | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2011

1. The use of indicators to identify areas of conservation importance has been challenged on several grounds, but nonetheless retains appeal as no more parsimonious approach exists. Among the many variants, two indicator strategies stand out: the use of indicator species and the use of metrics of landscape structure. While the first has been thoroughly studied, the same cannot be said about the latter. We aimed to contrast the relative efficacy of species-based and landscape-based indicators by: (i) comparing their ability to reflect changes in community integrity at regional and landscape spatial scales, (ii) assessing their sensitivity to changes in data resolution, and (iii) quantifying the degree to which indicators that are generated in one landscape or at one spatial scale can be transferred to additional landscapes or scales. 2. We used data from more than 7000 bird captures in 65 sites from six 10000-ha landscapes with different proportions of forest cover in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Indicator species and landscape-based indicators were tested in terms of how effective they were in reflecting changes in community integrity, defined as deviations in bird community composition from control areas. 3. At the regional scale, indicator species provided more robust depictions of community integrity than landscape-based indicators. At the landscape scale, however, landscape-based indicators performed more effectively, more consistently and were also more transferable among landscapes. The effectiveness of high resolution landscape-based indicators was reduced by just 12% when these were used to explain patterns of community integrity in independent data sets. By contrast, the effectiveness of species-based indicators was reduced by 33%. 4. Synthesis and applications. The use of indicator species proved to be effective; however their results were variable and sensitive to changes in scale and resolution, and their application requires extensive and time-consuming field work. Landscape-based indicators were not only effective but were also much less context-dependent. The use of landscape-based indicators may allow the rapid identification of priority areas for conservation and restoration, and indicate which restoration strategies should be pursued, using remotely sensed imagery. We suggest that landscape-based indicators might often be a better, simpler, and cheaper strategy for informing decisions in conservation. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society.


Doswald N.,UNEP WCMC | Munroe R.,BirdLife International | Roe D.,International Institute for Environment and Development IIED | Giuliani A.,International Institute for Environment and Development IIED | And 6 more authors.
Climate and Development | Year: 2014

Ecosystem-based approaches for adaptation (EbA) integrate the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall strategy for helping people adapt to climate change. To date, however, insight into these approaches has often been based on anecdotal case studies of local peoples' use of ecosystems. A systematic map of EbA-relevant peer-reviewed literature, and a sample of grey literature, was undertaken to (1) give a methodical overview of the state of the evidence-base on EbA effectiveness and (2) identify key knowledge gaps. A framework was developed with stakeholders to assess the evidence-base for EbA effectiveness. The literature reviewed showed that much can be learnt about EbA from articles which considered climatic variability and climate extremes. Measures of the effectiveness of EbA-relevant interventions recorded in the articles showed positive results, although discussion of thresholds, limits and timescales related to these interventions was limited. Social, environmental and economic benefits of EbA interventions were in evidence in most articles, and though costs were discussed, this was limited in extent. It is concluded that the literature on EbA-relevant interventions addressing climatic variability, change, and linked extremes and natural hazards, contains some information that will support making the case for EbA, but the evidence-base has a number of gaps that should be addressed. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Sainsbury K.,Imperial College London | Burgess N.D.,UNEP WCMC | Burgess N.D.,Center for Macroecology | Sabuni F.,Conservation Fund | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Critical evaluation of the impact of conservation actions is essential to meet the challenges posed by the biodiversity crisis. Conservationists need to understand which interventions work or fail, and how to improve them in order to invest limited funds wisely. Alternative income-generating activities (IGAs) are widely implemented within conservation and development projects, but their impact is rarely evaluated. The "ranked outcomes" evaluation methodology converts qualitative information on planned and realised outcomes into a score for comparison between projects. We test this methodology in two ways using a set of small scale IGAs implemented in communities adjacent to the Uzungwa Scarp proposed Nature Reserve in the Tanzanian Eastern Arc Mountains. The first approach used an independent evaluator and the second assessed project impacts from the perspective of target communities. Both evaluations rated Tree Planting as the most socially beneficial IGA, followed by Fish Farming. However, there was a high level of heterogeneity of perception between and within stakeholder groups (implementers and target communities), both in terms of which outcomes were most important and how well they had been achieved. Ranked outcomes emerged as a flexible framework that defines the terms of the evaluation for all stakeholders from the outset, even in cases when evaluation and clear goal-setting are omitted from original project design and planning. It can be modified for use as a component of rigorous impact assessment, to incorporate perspectives of all stakeholders, and provides important insights in data-poor situations and where baselines are not available. © 2015 The Authors.

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