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National Responsibilities in European Species Conservation: a Methodological Review

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Abstract: 

One particular challenge in reducing the loss of biodiversity by 2010, as agreed on at the Earth Summit in 2002, is to assign conservation tasks to geographic or administrative entities (e.g., countries or regions) on different geographical scales. To identify conservation tasks, it is imperative to determine the importance of a specific area for the global survival of a species. So far, these national or subnational responsibilities for the conservation of species have been included differently in methods prioritizing conservation. We reviewed how 12 European and 3 non-European methods determined national conservation responsibilities and evaluated the international importance of a biological population. Different countries used different methodologies, which made a direct comparison of assessments of national responsibilities among countries extremely difficult. Differences existed in the importance criteria used. Criteria included population decline, range reduction, rarity status, degree of isolation of a population, endemism, proportional distribution, and geographic location. To increase comparability, it is imperative to develop criteria for which data are generally available and to standardize the methodology among countries. A standardized method would allow conservation decisions to be based on the conservation status of a species and on the responsibility of a geographic or administrative entity for the survival of a species. We suggest that such a method should use a scalable index of proportional distribution, taxonomic status, and the distribution pattern of a taxon or species as key elements. Such a method would allow for the creation of hierarchical lists and would be highly relevant for parts of the world with multiple political jurisdictions or state unions and for nations with regional governmental structures. Conservation priorities could then be reasonably set by combining national responsibility assessments with the international conservation status of a species.
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Keywords: Europa; Europe; conservación de especies; conservation methods; conservation priorities; métodos de conservación; national responsibility; prioridades de conservación; responsabilidad nacional; species conservation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Ecology, Vilnius University, 08412 Vilnius, Lithuania 2: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, 0105 Oslo, Norway 3: Department of Ecology, University of Debrecen, 4032 Debrecen, Hungary 4: UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Conservation Biology, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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