Landscape connectivity workshop | WWF India


LANDSCAPE CONNECTIVITY WORKSHOP

Many of WWF’s priority species are large ranging and require vast connected habitats to persist in the wild. Asian species such as tigers, elephants, snow leopards, rhinos and pandas exist in very crowded landscapes, increasingly fragmented due to commodities expansion, transport network expansion, logging and extractive industries, and an expanding agricultural estate. These large ranging species are increasingly limited to small protected areas surrounded by human-dominated landscapes, limiting their dispersal. If corridors and connectivity is lost, landscapes become fragmented, species dispersal becomes limited or ceases, and ecological systems can begin to break down. 
 
How are we addressing this? Do we know where the corridors are that need protecting? How do we know if species are using the corridors or not? What policies need to be in place to ensure corridors are critical components in economic planning? How should we work with communities and the commodities sectors to maintain connectivity? Are there emerging fields in connectivity conservation that we need to be considering? Are there examples of long term corridor programs that have stemmed the tide of economic encroachment on corridors?

All these questions will be explored at the WWF India and Tigers Alive hosted –Corridors and Connectivity workshop, at WWF India Delhi, 7-9th May.
We are bringing together: WWF corridor focal points and innovators from across snow leopard, panda, elephant, rhino and tiger landscapes; IUCN Connectivity Specialist Group members; and the leading thinkers and decision makers from some of India’s premier institutions and government agencies tackling the connectivity challenge.

The workshop is structured thematically, with brief targeted presentations that showcase various innovations, challenges and successes. Lessons are then distilled in discussion labs with ideas fed into the subsequent thematic sessions and culminating in a ‘call to action’ for connectivity across our Asian species landscapes.

The themes and overview of the workshop are as follows:

Day 1: 7 May, 2018

SESSION I - IDENTIFYING & DESIGNING CORRIDORS
Do we know where movementcorridors really are? How did we determine and design them? Who was involved - communities / government in the process? How are we dealing with production / agricultural space when designing corridors? How are we incorporating mosaic landscape systems into design? What scale is most appropriate to work at and what is feasible?
 
Headline presentations:
  • Lessons in connectivity conservation from a transboundary tiger.
  • Agricultural mosaics as corridors.
  • Contentious connectivity: dealing with process and politics.
  • Conflict mitigation and connectivity.
SESSION II - LESSONS FROM LONG TERM CORRIDOR PROGRAMS
Various corridor programs globally highlight lessons, challenges, and opportunities for connectivity. How have these programs overcome development pressures and adapted to changing contexts and human populations? What have been the standout strengths of these programs? Are they well placed to tackle emerging challenges of competition for space?
 
Headline presentations:
  • Connecting the Malay peninsula: what does it really take?
  • Sumatra's RIMBA corridor: connectivity with commodities?
  • The Qinling panda corridor: reflecting on 10 years of effort.
  • Russia’s "Tiger Econet" optimizing land use connectivity.

UPDATE

Day 1: CORRIDORS, CONNECTIVITY, AND LANDSCAPES



What do snow leopards, pandas, and rhinos have in common? They all need connected landscapes to survive. Today, we kicked off a workshop in Delhi to explore landscapes, corridors, and connectivity. More than 60 representatives from WWF landscapes, governments, the IUCN, and other conservation organisations delved into the challenges and complexities of maintaining connected landscapes. Leading thinkers and decision makers from India’s premier conservation agencies and the Global Tiger Forum set the stage for a focussed discussion on what works.

Some of the key takeaways from the presentations and the discussions are-
1.  Future of connected landscapes and shared spaces–  The workshop began with the intriguing reality that more than half the world’s population lives in the same handful of countries as most of WWF’s flagship species. With trillions of dollars being poured into Asia’s infrastructure development, increasing anthropogenic pressures, securing corridors becomes a tremendous challenge.
2.  Incorporating mosaic landscape systems- Corridors aren’t what we thought they were.  Amounting body of evidence reveals that even large animals like tigers and elephants regularly use human-dominated areas in unpredictable ways.
3.  Securing corridors is a political process – Conservationists can’t secure corridors without a range of sometimes unlikely allies: influential politicians, local community groups, industry and finance institutions and enlightened civil engineers.

Day 2: 8 May, 2018

SESSION III - MONITORING CORRIDORS
Do we know the corridors are working and functional? How do we know? Who does the monitoring and with what resources? How are the public involved? Where is monitoring leading to sustained outcomes for wildlife? How critical are local communities? What role is there for commodities industries? What are monitoring results telling us? Are certain land uses more conducive to maintaining tiger connectivity?
 
Headline presentations:
  • What does conflict tell us about corridor function?
  • Using genetics to understand functionality.
  • Understanding movement patterns of collared elephants.
  • Learning from the Terai Arc Nepal: a joint venture with communities for corridors.
  • National level corridor mapping in India.
SESSION IV - CORRIDOR POLICY
What stand out examples are there of government uptake of corridors? Are governments using the scientific data? What does success look like? Do we have the economic arguments and language needed on corridors to talk to governments?
 
Headline presentations:
  • Securing corridors through engaging with mining and agriculture sectors.
  • Continental corridors: The Australian Experience.
  • Whose right of way? Key legal issues in recognizing and securing corridors.
  • Policy challenges is busy corridors of India.
  • Government implementation and lobbying processes for connectivity in Malaysia.
  • Using legal instruments to 'save' corridors.

UPDATE

Day 2: ADVANCING THE CONVERSATION ON LANDSCAPE CONNECTIVITY


 
The second day of the landscape connectivity workshop explored current approaches to monitoring connectivity, corridor structure and functionality, the application of contemporary modelling and genetic tools to design corridors for the future, and partnerships required to monitor corridors. 
 
In order to understand corridors and connected landscapes better, we assessed long-term corridor monitoring programmes. We discussed tools, techniques, innovations and large scale monitoring frameworks that have worked and delved into what the results tell us. Genetic studies on corridors and related scenarios gave us interesting results on wildlife movement and extinction risks that loom heavy on large mammals.  We also talked about how we make monitoring more participative by involving local communities.
 
The session on corridor policy presented examples ranging from cases in Australia and Malaysia where sound policy frameworks have helped integrate corridor management strategies to stories from India where legal advocacy have provided opportunities to secure corridors. 
 
We will be further detailing out "what makes a good corridor conservation policy" tomorrow.

Day 3: 9 May, 2018

SESSION V: EMERGING FIELDS IN CONNECTIVITY CONSERVATION
How is climate change being factored in to corridor planning? How are landscapes working with agriculture and commodities to maintain connectivity? How are we future-proofing our corridors solutions to keep pace with land use changes? Do national corridor standards and guidelines have teeth?
 
Headline presentations:
  • A toolkit to identify critical linkages and bottlenecks.
  • Concepts, models, and assessments of climate-wise connectivity.
  • Plantations to enhance brown bear connectivity.
  • Securing and restoring elephant corridors in India.
  • Gross national connectivity – Bhutan.
  • High mountain connectivity standards for snow leopards in Mongolia.
  • IUCN Areas of Connectivity Conservation standards.

UPDATE

Day 3: DEFINING EMERGING AREAS IN LANDSCAPE CONNECTIVITY
The workshop participants broke out into regional groups which discussed the specific challenges they faced in conserving connectivity. While countries like Mongolia and Russia obviously faced very different problems from densely populated countries in South and Southeast Asia, two common issues stood out. First, legal recognition of corridors wasn’t enough. Secondly, conservation groups had to translate national level policies to the actual delineating, monitoring, and protection of corridors.

Some of highlights of today’s sessions are-
  1. The session on the “Emerging Fields in Connectivity Conservation,” explored how Bhutan, Mongolia, India, and Spain were structuring policy and practice in protecting corridors. India and Mongolia lack a corridor policy. Bhutan might represent the best practices in identifying and formalizing tiger corridors, which originally covered 9% of the country’s area—but even they are dealing with a lack of awareness about corridors on the ground. Examples of Indian elephant corridors and Spanish bear corridors showed various ways to engage the government, private sector, and citizens in securing corridors.
  2. Speakers from the IUCN and University of Hong Kong demonstrated a range of approaches and technical tools that are being honed to help determine corridors that can adapt to a changing climate and complex landscapes. They also covered some of the evolving international standards that can help drive the connectivity conservation movement forward.
  3. The workshop was distilled into nine recommendations for four themes- design, monitoring, management, and policy. These guidelines emphasized engagement with government and community stakeholders and prompt, effective, pragmatic action bolstered by science whenever possible.

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