James Cook University researchers say a new global database will lead to better marine parks by helping to bridge critical gaps in marine conservation planning.
Dr Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at JCU led a study that looked at marine conservation planning worldwide.
“For this study, we developed a database to document conservation planning and analysed all marine studies available in the scientific literature. It clearly shows deficiencies in the present system,” he said.
Dr Álvarez-Romero said systematic conservation planning studies, used to determine which areas would be most useful in conserving marine biodiversity, are growing very quickly.
“Despite this, there is no structured or reliable way of finding information on methods, trends and progress. There is little evidence of input from stakeholders. There are important gaps in geographic coverage and not enough work done on the areas most threatened,” he said.
“We know the number and total extent of protected areas will increase significantly during the next few decades. The challenge is making this expansion count in terms of biodiversity conservation,” he said.
Dr Morena Mills, conservation scientist at Imperial College London and co-leader of The Conservation Planning Database project, said a global database to track development, implementation and impact of conservation planning is urgently needed, along with a closer analysis of the literature, and continuous and comprehensive documentation of conservation planning exercises.
“The new database is a move towards a centralised repository of information of planning exercises and can advance conservation theory and practice,” she said.
The paper “Research advances and gaps in marine planning: towards a global database in systematic conservation planning” is published in this week’s online edition of the journal Biological Conservation (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2018.06.027).
For more information, please check out the Conservation Planning Group blog here.
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