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Title: Systematic Conservation Planning
Author(s): Christopher R Margules and Sahotra Sarkar
Date of Publication: 2007 Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Pages: vii + 270 ISBN: 978 0 521 70344 4
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Educator







Content: 1 – Introduction; 2 - Biodiversity surrogates; 3 - Data collection; 4 - Data treatment; 5 - Conservation-area networks; 6 - Persistence and vulnerability; 7 - Satisfying multiple criteria; 8 - Systematic conservation plans; 9- Conclusions.

Review: At first glance one might be forgiven the thought that the title was paradoxical. Conventional wisdom states that each conservation area is unique and that a "template" approach should be bound to fail. However, at this stage one can also observe that the maturity of conservation studies should be able to bear a more methodical (if not methodological) approach to the subject. The aim here is to provide such an approach and to argue for its utility. There is much to be said for this. The need to conserve biodiversities (for surely there are more than one) is urgent but the resources and capacity to manage this is limited. Hence any method which addresses the allocation of scarce resources (i.e. a classical economics approach) is one which can be more easily reviewed and defended. Individual schemes might be more effective (although there is no guarantee) but the efficiency of the system might be difficult to assess. It comes down to how we see conservation best directed.

This book is aimed at the conservationist with knowledge of the subject but less on this topic. It seeks to describe the various ideas and techniques involved with the end point of producing more standardised plans better able to conserve. We start with a brief overview of both topic and book. Outlines on biodiversity and species loss give way to definitions of conservation planning. Chapter two looks at the notion of biodiversity, what it means and how it can be measured. Since absolute species knowledge is impossible it follows that surrogates have to be used and these are discussed for their efficacy. Data are vital but that doesn't mean that they are all equal. Data will have gaps and methodological inconsistencies. It is important that we know the limitations of our data. Accordingly, chapter three examines the issues surrounding collection and chapter four those dealing with statistics and analysis. Chapter five turns to the land itself with an examination of the conservation network. The importance of this cannot be overstated: the reader is faced with the argument that conservation must be seen within a network and not as a series of random patches. It suggests that areas are linked and that the ideas of size and linkage be based on conservation priorities. The chapter discusses some existing networks and puts forward the idea of algorithms for selection. Chapter six turns to the issue of persistence. In chapter five there was a focus on getting the maximum biodiversity with the most economy. Here the demand is that the species survives which suggests an outline of viability analyses. A range of examples illustrate the ideas put forward. So far, the focus has been on conservation and how best to organise it. Land does not only have to be for conservation, other uses compete and co-exist. Chapter seven describes how co-existence can be achieved from genuine multiple uses to a range of trade-off scenarios. Chapter 8 describes 5 cases of planning using examples from around the world. A final brief conclusion points to future directions in conservation.

This is a useful guide to the subject. There is a need for an outline of how the jumble of conservation plans can be systematised and the subject has matured enough to have data to tackle this topic. Aimed more at the conservationist this book provides the educator with a good framework from which to base their studies and provides students with the key elements needed to assess conservation plans.





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