A spatial conservation plan for the UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Biology


Protecting land in nature reserves is a cornerstone of conservation policy. Recent initiatives have resulted in a need to review and improve the protected area network across the UK, but a key problem is identifying where the network of protected/conservation sites could be improved to increase its comprehensiveness. New Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) tools are now available to identify effective ways to expand the protected area network and reconcile conservation priorities with other demands, but they have not yet been formally applied to terrestrial environments in the UK. Recently, new challenges have arisen that must be included within SCP: how to incorporate climate-driven changes in species distribution, or the identification of climatic refugia? What is the influence of incorporating ecosystem services? Are priorities different if we consider functional, not taxonomic, diversity?
This project addresses both fundamental questions about how we should prioritise conservation areas, and the highly applied question of where new conservation areas in the UK might be most beneficial. Working with project partners in the statutory conservation bodies across the UK (including CASE partner, Natural England where the student will spend at least 3 months) will give the student direct routes to translate their research findings into policy and conservation practice. The student will gain experience of species distribution modelling, biodiversity and biogeography as well as SCP practice, developing highly desirable quantitative analysis skills. Working as part of a lively research group of spatial ecologists and conservation scientists with established links to the CASE partner, the student will gain a broad understanding of modern conservation science.


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