Conservation efforts have, historically, focused on establishing and managing protected areas. However, as the majority (56%) of terrestrial protected areas are smaller than 98 ha in area and less than 9% are larger than 14,000 ha, most of the conservation community now recognizes that a focus solely on “site-based” conservation is unlikely to be sufficient to conserve viable or functional populations of wildlife. To successfully conserve wide-ranging species, healthy ecosystems and the ecological processes upon which biodiversity as a whole depends, we must often extend our vision beyond protected areas. Successful conservation requires us to work at a more ecologically meaningful spatial scale, one that includes the matrix of human-dominated land use that surrounds and connects parks and reserves.
The Landscape/Seascape Species Approach is a wildlife-based approach to planning landscape- (and seascape-) scale conservation efforts. It is designed to help conservationists define what a landscape means for the wildlife they are trying to conserve. This approach allows field staff to answer questions such as: How big does the landscape need to be for us to conserve wildlife populations over the long term? What habitats do we need to conserve? How do those habitats need to be arranged and connected? What threats will affect those habitats and where will they occur? Considering the needs of wildlife, the threats, and our restricted resources (time, money, people, expertise), where should we prioritize our work within this huge landscape?
To determine the ecologically appropriate extent and configuration of landscapes and seascapes we need to view conservation through the eyes of wildlife. Conservation Support has developed a suite of tools to help you through a step-by-step process that includes: a) selection of a suite of Landscape Species around which you will plan your landscape; b) setting quantitative goals for conserving those species; c) mapping the ecological needs and distribution of Landscape Species; d) mapping threats; and e) using tools like Marxan to prioritize which parts of the landscape require attention.