Wilderness and future conservation priorities in Australia

Watson, James E. M., Fuller, Richard A., Watson, Alexander W. T., Mackey, Brendan G., Wilson, Kerrie A., Grantham, Hedley S., Turner, Matthew, Klein, Carissa J., Carwardine, Josie, Joseph, Liana N. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2009) Wilderness and future conservation priorities in Australia. Diversity and Distributions, 15 6: 1028-1036. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2009.00601.x

Author Watson, James E. M.
Fuller, Richard A.
Watson, Alexander W. T.
Mackey, Brendan G.
Wilson, Kerrie A.
Grantham, Hedley S.
Turner, Matthew
Klein, Carissa J.
Carwardine, Josie
Joseph, Liana N.
Possingham, Hugh P.
Title Wilderness and future conservation priorities in Australia
Journal name Diversity and Distributions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1472-4642
Publication date 2009-11
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2009.00601.x
Volume 15
Issue 6
Start page 1028
End page 1036
Total pages 9
Editor David M. Richardson
Place of publication Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Blackwell Scientific
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject 0502 Environmental Science and Management
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
050209 Natural Resource Management
050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
Aim: Most approaches to conservation prioritization are focused on biodiversity features that are already threatened. While this is necessary in the face of accelerating anthropogenic threats, there have been calls to conserve large intact landscapes, often termed ‘wilderness’, to ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity. In this study, we examine the consequences of directing conservation expenditure using a threat-based framework for wilderness conservation.

Location: The Australian continent.

Methods: We measured the degree of congruence between the extent of wilderness and the Australian protected area network in 2000 and 2006, which was established using a threat-based systematic planning framework. We also assessed priority areas for future reserve acquisitions identified by the Australian government under the current framework.

Results: In 2000, 14% of Australia’s wilderness was under formal protection, while the protected area network covered only 8.5% of the continent, suggesting a historical bias towards wilderness protection. However, the expansion of the reserve system from 2000 to 2006 was biased towards non-wilderness areas. Moreover, 90% of the wilderness that was protected over this period comprised areas not primarily designated for biodiversity conservation. We found a significant (P < 0.05) negative relationship between bioregions considered to be a priority for future reserve prioritization and the amount of wilderness they contain.

Main conclusions: While there is an urgent need to overcome past biases in reserve network design so as to better protect poorly represented species and habitats, prioritization approaches should not become so reactive as to ignore the role that large, intact landscapes play in conserving biodiversity, especially in a time of human-induced climate change. This can be achieved by using current or future threats rather than past threats to prioritize areas, and by incorporating key ecological processes and costs of acquisition and management within the planning framework.
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Keyword Australia
Conservation planning
Protected areas
Climate change
Biodiversity conservation
Evolutionary responses
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Additional Notes Author prepress title: "Wilderness, protected areas, and future conservation priorities: an Australian study".

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Created: Tue, 17 Nov 2009, 12:13:00 EST