Defining and delivering resilient ecological networks: an example for nature conservation in England

Nick Isaac, Peter Brotherton, James Bullock, Richard D. Gregory, Katrin Bohning-Gaese, Ben Connor, Humphrey Q. P. Crick, Rob P. Freckleton, Jennifer Gill, Rosemary Hails, Minna Hartikainen, Alison Hester, EJ Milner-Gulland, Thomas Oliver, Richard Pearson, William Sutherland, Chris D. Thomas, Justin Travis, Lindsay Turnbull, Kathy WillisGuy Woodward, Georgina Mace

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60 Citations (Scopus)
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1. Planning for nature conservation has increasingly emphasised the concepts of resilience and spatial networks. Although the importance of networks of habitat for individual species is clear, their importance for long-term ecological resilience and multi-species conservation strategies is less well established.

2. Referencing spatial network theory, we describe the conceptual basis for defining and assessing a network of wildlife areas that supports the resilience of species 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 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. England’s 25 Year Environment Plan provides the ideal testbed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2537-2543
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Issue number6
Early online date21 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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