Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Beyond Threat Maps

By Vivitskaia Tulloch and Ayesha Tulloch

Targeting threats alone won’t save our wildlife.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Too often, governments and conservation organisations have only one goal for restoring the populations of declining species: to reduce what they perceive as the main “threat”. However, the focus on ‘“threat hotspots” by nations and international conservation bodies can be wasteful and may even push threatened species closer to the brink.

To manage threats, organisations develop and use “threat maps”. Often these are maps of human pressures affecting species (e.g. loss of forest cover due to land clearing for agriculture and urbanisation, or the location of fishing pressure in marine areas). A huge number of organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, The World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society, have a long history of developing and using threat maps to direct limited conservation funding. These organisations typically use threat maps to do one of two things: either target the areas that are the furthest removed from the threats for protecting wildlife (pristine “wilderness” areas) or target the areas that have the highest perceived threats to wildlife and work on that threat.

Unfortunately, these kinds of traditional threat-focused approaches have a number of drawbacks. They limit conservationists to solving only one part of the problem, can be expensive compared with alternative management choices, and may have undesired outcomes if...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.