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Priority Threat Management for biodiversity conservation: A handbook

Carwardine, Josie, Martin, Tara G., Firn, Jennifer, Reyes, Rocio Ponce, Nicol, Sam, Reeson, Andrew, Grantham, Hedley S., Stratford, Danial, Kehoe, Laura, Chadès, Iadine
Journal of applied ecology 2019 v.56 no.2 pp. 481-490
biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, case studies, conservation areas, cost effectiveness, decision making, experts, planning, social environment, stakeholders, Australia, Canada
Threats to biodiversity and the integrity of ecological systems are escalating globally, both within and outside of protected areas. Decision makers have inadequate resources to manage all threats and typically lack information on the likely outcomes and cost‐effectiveness of possible management strategies. Priority Threat Management (PTM) is an emerging approach designed to address this challenge, by defining and appraising cost‐effective strategies for mitigating threats to biodiversity across regions. The scientific and practical impacts of PTM are increasing, with a growing number of case study applications across the globe. Here, we provide guidance and resource material for conducting the PTM process based on our experience delivering six large‐scale projects across Australia and Canada. Our handbook describes the four stages of PTM: scoping and planning; defining and collecting key elements; analysing the cost‐effectiveness of strategies; and communicating and integrating recommendations. We summarise critical tips, strengths, and limitations and scope for possible enhancements of the approach. Priority Threat Management harnesses scientific and expert‐derived information to prioritise management strategies based on their benefit to biodiversity, management costs and feasibility. The approach involves collaboration with key experts and stakeholders in a region to improve knowledge sharing and conservation support. The PTM approach identifies sets of regional level strategies that together provide the greatest benefits for multiple species under a limited budget, which can be used to inform existing processes for decision‐making. The PTM approach applies some generalisations in management strategies and resolution, in order to address complex challenges. Further developments of the approach include testing in a greater range of socioecological systems with adaptations that cater for multiobjective decisions. Synthesis and applications. Priority Threat Management is a decision science approach that brings people together to define and prioritise strategies for managing threats to biodiversity across broad regions. It delivers a prospectus for investment in the biodiversity of a region that is transparent, repeatable, participatory, and based on the best available information. Our handbook provides the necessary guidance and resources for expanding the Priority Threat Management approach to new locations, contexts, and challenges.