Effective conservation in today’s world has to balance the needs of species with those of people and their interests and objectives. As pressures on the world’s natural resources become ever more apparent and biodiversity conservation is increasingly understood as central to human well-being, it is clear that strong partnerships are required to act decisively for the natural world and for those whose livelihoods depend on it.
The SCPSC planning process is under-pinned by this realism, so that the species plans arising from its process, should, if developed and implemented sensitively, forge and maintain such partnerships, thereby increasing the likelihood that species extinctions will be avoided and landscapes conserved. Recent work amply demonstrates the success of community-based interventions that take local issues into account in their design and implementation.
The SCPSC planning process contains a number of critical aspects:
- The need for accurate and up-to-date information on the planned species,
- A process that is participatory and includes all relevant parties who would be affected by, or can contribute to , the conservation outcomes,
- A shared and precisely defined set of objectives, within a formal framework,
- Conservation solutions must be based on acknowledging uncertainty, with a rigorous assessment of conservation actions and their consequences including the risk of unintended results,
- The need to monitor conservation progress, and include adaptive management as a standards element,
- The need to assign responsibilities for actions, and accountability.
The SCPSC is spending 2011-12 in a phase of collaborative, field-testing its approach under as wide a range of species and situations as possible. Its perspective includes:
- Ensuring the planning process is flexible to cope with all taxa and situations,
- As the planning needs of species will always exceed the resources available for this, we must learn from each experience and see how lessons can be generalised and effective plans generated at least cost; in support of this, the SCPSC website will host an active resource site for planning case histories and experiences,
- The planning process is still evolving and the SCPSC has a dedicated Tools Development Working Group (based in, and using the special skills of, the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group) (link) to explore new methods and emerging technologies,
- In pursuit of promoting responsible and effective species planning, SSC’s Steering Committee has approved a mechanism by which the SCPSC can endorse species plans; this will be operational in early 2012
The SCPSC will focus its efforts on the network of SSC Specialist Groups, to encourage more to plan for their species conservation, with the hope that many can learn that planning need not be daunting, complex or expensive, and can make a great difference to species status. But, we are keen to assist anyone contemplating species planning.
We hope that the sub-committee will be a resource for Specialist Groups and others, demonstrating to all the benefits of sound species planning, and that we can create or help seize the opportunity to do so.
We welcome contact or queries over any aspect of species planning from Specialist Groups Chairs and others. We are working with the SSC Secretariat to identify any Specialist Groups for which some species planning would seem to be timely.