Scientists at the Institute of Zoology (IOZ) led the development of the
IUCN Red List, the foremost tool for assessing species extinction risk. We
further developed systems to evaluate the status of biodiversity at the
national level (National Red Lists), quantify population changes (Living
Planet Index) and robustly measure changing biodiversity (Sampled Red List
Index), and global indicators of the status of biodiversity for the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). These are used to drive
conservation policy and public engagement by Inter-Governmental and
Non-Governmental Organisations, and national governments, and underpin
measurement of adherence to CBD Targets for 2010 and 2020.
Research by Oxford University has led to the development of a
biodiversity assessment tool based on three biological indices, that has
been used in many parts of the world to prioritise and protect
biodiversity hotspots, particularly in landscapes that are at major threat
from logging or conversion to agriculture. In Ghana these methods have led
to the protection of ~2,300 km2 of forest reserves (13% of the
total forest network) and were codified in a simple field guide. In
Liberia a multinational mining company made important conservation
decisions based on the application of these methods. Use of the tool has
led to the retention of substantial areas of high biodiversity forest in
West Africa, despite competing economic and political drivers, and amidst
a continuing general decline in forest condition across the region.
Conservation activities must be well grounded in solid science to be
effective. Our research
identified specific threats to the survival of threatened species in
Sichuan Province, China.
Research outcomes were used to create, maintain and monitor nature
reserves, ensuring species
survival. The revelation that human cultural and subsistence activities
were adversely affecting
threatened species led to successful promotion and adoption of beneficial
alternatives to these
behaviours. Our research provided the basis for technical support to local
capacity building and community development, empowering indigenous ethnic
to protect forest habitat for wildlife. LJMU-led research identified the
factors which adversely
impacted breeding success of threatened birds, creating opportunities for
the amelioration of these
threats and promoting conservation of threatened species.
Drs Peck and Stewart are actively engaged in conservation projects in
Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Ecuador and have established conservation areas
that are now protected from logging and which provide a sustainable income
for local communities. These impacts are:
Identification of rare plant species on nature reserves at Malham
(Yorks.) and Morvich (W.
Scotland) led to site managers developing sympathetic management
approaches to ensure the
species' conservation. These are detailed in management plans and include
reduction in grazing
and introduction of population census to assess management success. In
addition, incorporation of
the discoveries into plant guides has led to increased awareness of the
two species which in turn
has drawn naturalists to view and photograph them. Thus the research at
Edge Hill has led to the
conservation of and increased awareness of a rare component of the UK
The creation of an evidenced-based framework for biodiversity
conservation has profoundly altered approaches to conservation policy and
practice, both in the UK and globally. Our research has underpinned
strategic management that has supported tropical biodiversity resilience
and mitigated ecosystem impacts in the face of changes in land-use, rural
livelihoods and forest resource extraction. Our research on biodiversity
and conservation management has had impact on governmental and
non-governmental policy and practice at national (UK) and international
(Brazil, Cambodia) scales, including directly influencing a forestry
conservation Bill in Brazil.
Research by Andy Marshall has led to conservation of biodiversity. The
research has spawned a long-term conservation project that is saving a
threatened forest from destruction and has led to improved awareness of
forest value and sustainable behaviour by local communities. The work has
also led to a centre for biodiversity/education research, two educational
books, and species revisions on the international Red List. Work on
Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) led to the development of the world's
first BAP by a zoo, followed by workshops and a paper, that are being used
for an advice pack to be circulated to over 100 British zoos. Marshall is
a regional committee member for monitoring UK BAP targets. Marshall is a
senior member of a national committee for encouraging field conservation
by zoos, and through this led a report used in a parliamentary debate.
Three awards have been received.
Impacts: I) Improved provision of environmental services in
Belize, including the creation of plant
reference collections / databases and the training of conservation
professionals and students.
II) Land-management policy formation by the Government of Belize and NGOs.
Significance and reach: Over the period 2009 - July 2013 there has
been a step-change in the
quality of biodiversity monitoring carried out by NGOs and the Government
of Belize; including the
latter being better able to meet international reporting requirements.
Over the same period, 40
conservation professionals have been trained in Belize.
Underpinned by: Research into savanna plant diversity, led by the
University of Edinburgh (1996 -
Professor Gowing and his associates' research demonstrated the
sensitivity of grassland species
to soil moisture regime. They developed a method for quantifying the
relationship between plant
community composition and soil moisture regime which showed that
controlling water levels in
traditional ways led to conservation of important plant species and/or
enhanced diversity. This
research led to the Environment Agency issuing practical guidelines to
site managers for these
internationally important sites, with a lead section written by Gowing.
Advice has been given
directly to owners and managers via the Floodplain Meadows Partnership led
by the OU,
engendering parallel studies abroad.
The eradication of alien invasive species is a conservation priority, but
is rarely attempted in mainland areas given the logistical and economic
challenges of species control over large areas. Any effective control
programme must be underpinned by robust scientific understanding of the
population ecology of the target species to ensure control is
appropriately focussed and directed, and that efforts are not swamped by
compensatory dispersal from neighbouring regions.
A University of Aberdeen study of water vole population ecology
recognised sharp declines in numbers and identified the invasive,
predatory American mink as a primary driver of population extinction. The
world's largest mainland species eradication programme was then put in
place by Aberdeen, involving many hundreds of volunteers. It has
successfully removed breeding mink from over 10,000 km2 of
Scotland and secured the future of an iconic symbol of natural heritage.
This conservation success story is now used as a template for the
management of invasive mink in other eradication initiatives in Scotland
The research thereby impacted the conservation of natural resources
and policy and planning of management.