1 Tahrcountry Musings: Using Habitat and Landscape Models to Focus Conservation Planning

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Using Habitat and Landscape Models to Focus Conservation Planning

I just read a good paper on conservation planning. The paper titled “Improving the viability of large-mammal populations by using habitat and landscape models to focus conservation planning” was authored by Yongyut Trisurat, Anak Pattanavibool, George A. Gale and David H. Reed.

The authors try to define suitable habitat for sambar (Cervus unicolor), banteng (Bos javanicus), gaur (Bos gaurus), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and tiger (Panthera tigris) in the Western Forest Complex, Thailand, and to assess their current status as well as estimate how the landscape needs to be managed to maintain viable populations.

The paper demonstrates a method for combining a rapid ecological assessment, landscape indices, GIS-based wildlife-habitat models and knowledge of minimum viable population sizes to guide landscape-management decisions and improve conservation outcomes through habitat restoration.

The researchers conclude that if managers wish to upgrade the viabilities of gaur, elephant, tiger and banteng within the next 10 years, park rangers and stakeholders should aim to increase the amount of usable habitat by ~2170 km2 or 17%of existing suitable habitats. The key strategies are to reduce human pressures, enhance ungulate habitats and increase connectivity of suitable habitats outside the current distributions.

The paper clearly provides a particularly useful method for managers and forest-policy planners forassessing and managing habitat suitability for target wildlife and their population viability in protected-area networks where knowledge of the demographic attributes (e.g. birth and death rates) of wildlife populations are too limited to perform population viability analysis.

I am indebted to Dr Yongyut Trisurat , Department of Forest Biology, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand for sending me a complimentary copy of the paper.

No comments: