Conservation planning works!

“An integrative, multi-stakeholder approach to species conservation planning, which includes population viability analyses and both in situ and ex situ management consideration, could improve outcomes for some of the most challenging cases.”

A new study led by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) provides evidence that science-based, inclusive, and participatory approaches to species conservation planning lead to better outcomes for species at risk. For the group of species assessed in this study, the overall extinction trend slowed after a CPSG planning workshop was conducted and the trend was reversed within 15 years. While the observed change in species declines was ultimately driven by the sustained efforts of many dedicated individuals working on the ground over many years, the study points to the planning workshops as a valuable turning point in these efforts, supporting partners to transition rapidly to more effective ways of working together to save species. The study further highlights the value of considering and integrating in situ and ex situ management as early as possible within the planning process. Almost 90% of the projects in the study included ex situ recommendations in the resultant conservation plans.

“Including the knowledge and know-how of both in situ and ex situ communities from the outset of planning can lead to better-integrated solutions, improving downstream results.”

The Canadian Species Initiative (CSI) is working to bring these globally recognized and proven processes to species recovery in Canada. As the Canadian Regional Resource Center for CPSG, we not only promote the “One Plan Approach” to species conservation planning, but we are also actively working to incorporate this important concept into national and provincial planning efforts. In March of this year we held a virtual Integrated Collection Assessment and Planning workshop to help identify how zoos can best contribute their unique skills, expertise, and resources to the conservation of Canadian snake species, with our report expected out this summer.  We are now actively planning and preparing for a series of virtual Species Conservation Planning workshops to take place over the next 10 months focused on eastern loggerhead shrike, with our first workshop scheduled for next month.  This bi-national workshop series will include academic, government, zoological, First Nations, and industry representatives from across the species range in Canada and the US.

WPC can play a key role in species conservation planning by providing knowledge and expertise linking direct, hands-on recovery actions with conservation needs of wild populations. We then have a vital role in implementation and support of any priority hands-on actions identified and recommended through this process. In addition to implementing and expanding measures recommended by the study, we are also growing our species conservation “toolkit”. Several WPC biologists, along with a number of our partners at various organizations across the country, have recently completed a course on facilitating species conservation planning workshops through CPSG. CSI co-founders, including WPC’s Conservation Programs Director, are also on CPSG’s Development Path and being actively mentored and coached by CPSG staff.  Learning opportunities like these, paired with firsthand planning and project experience, help to continually build our capacity for successful species conservation planning and implementation to ensure that the most effective management actions are used for species conservation in Canada. 

Interested in learning more about CSI, the power of inclusive and participatory species conservation planning, and the One Plan Approach?  We are always adding new content to our Resources section – check out our new suggestions for further reading >>

The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), a Canadian species at risk that has benefited from science-based, inclusive, and participatory planning. Photo: Stephanie Winton