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Defining and delivering resilient ecological networks: nature conservation in England

Mace, GM; Pearson, R; (2018) Defining and delivering resilient ecological networks: nature conservation in England. Journal of Applied Ecology , 55 (6) pp. 2537-2543. 10.1111/1365-2664.13196. Green open access

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Abstract

1.Planning for nature conservation has increasingly emphasised the concepts of resilience and spatial networks. Although the importance of habitat networks for individual species is clear, their significance for long‐term ecological resilience and multi‐species conservation strategies is less established. 2.Referencing spatial network theory, we describe the conceptual basis for defining and assessing a network of wildlife areas that supports species’ resilience to multiple forms of perturbations and pressures. We explore actions that could enhance network resilience at a range of scales, based on ecological principles, with reference to four well‐established strategies for intervention in a spatial network (“Better, Bigger, More and Joined”) from the influential Making Space for Nature report by Lawton et al. (2010). 3.Building existing theory into useable and scalable approaches applicable to large numbers of species is challenging but tractable. We illustrate the policy context, describe the elements of a long‐term adaptive management plan and provide example actions, metrics and targets for early implementation using England as a case study, where there is an opportunity to include large‐scale ecological planning in a newly launched 25‐year environment plan. 4.Policy implications. The concept of resilient ecological networks has attracted scientific and political support, but there is no consensus on what a resilient network would look like, or how to assess it. Therefore, it is unclear whether existing targets for action will be sufficient to achieve network resilience. We show that the scientific principles to place resilience and network theory at the heart of large‐scale and long‐term environmental planning are established and ready to implement in practice. Delivering a resilient network to support nature recovery is achievable and can be integrated with ongoing conservation actions and targets, by assessing their effectiveness on properties of the entire network. England's 25 Year Environment Plan promises to deliver a natural environment that is protected and enhanced for the future and so provides the ideal testbed.

Type: Article
Title: Defining and delivering resilient ecological networks: nature conservation in England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13196
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13196
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Corridor, Climate change, Biodiversity conservation, Habitat management, Protected Area, Metapopulation, Resilience, Nature Recovery Network
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051064
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