Envisioning a resilient future for biodiversity conservation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Ruth H. Thurstan, Kimberley J. Hockings, Johanna S.U. Hedlund, Elena Bersacola, Claire Collins, Regan Early, Yunsiska Ermiasi, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, Gabriella Gilkes, Mark E. Harrison, Muhammad Ali Imron, Christopher N. Kaiser-Bunbury, Daniel Refly Katoppo, Cheryl Marriott, Marie May Muzungaile, Ana Nuno, Aissa Regalla de Barros, Frank van Veen, Isuru Wijesundara, Didier DogleyNancy Bunbury

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect societies across the world, the ongoing economic and social disruptions are likely to present fundamental challenges for current and future biodiversity conservation. We review the literature for outcomes of past major societal, political, economic and zoonotic perturbations on biodiversity conservation, and demonstrate the complex implications of perturbation events upon conservation efforts. Building on the review findings, we use six in-depth case studies and the emerging literature to identify positive and negative outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, known and anticipated, for biodiversity conservation efforts around the world. A number of similarities exist between the current pandemic and past perturbations, with experiences highlighting that the pandemic-induced declines in conservation revenue and capacity, livelihood and trade disruptions are likely to have long-lasting and negative implications for biodiversity and conservation efforts. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic also brought about a global pause in human movement that is unique in recent history, and may yet foster long-lasting behavioural and societal changes, presenting opportunities to strengthen and advance conservation efforts in the wake of the pandemic. Enhanced collaborations and partnerships at the local level, cross-sectoral engagement, local investment and leadership will all enhance the resilience of conservation efforts in the face of future perturbations. Other actions aimed at enhancing resilience will require fundamental institutional change and extensive government and public engagement and support if they are to be realised. The pandemic has highlighted the inherent vulnerabilities in the social and economic models upon which many conservation efforts are based. In so doing, it presents an opportunity to reconsider the status quo for conservation, and promotes behaviours and actions that are resilient to future perturbation. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1013
JournalPeople and Nature
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the following individuals for their helpful input to the manuscript: Brendan Godley, Jonathan Bennie, Conrad Shamlye of the Seychelles Public Health Authority; Tim Smit KBE, Executive Vice Chair & Co-Founder Eden Project and Executive Co-Chair Eden Project International; Bernat Ripoll Capilla; and April Burt. Two reviewers, Adriana Ford and Mike Perring, provided highly constructive feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript, for which they are very grateful. R.H.T. acknowledges the support of the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie grant agreement MarHIST No 787671. Research into the Sri Lankan case study was supported by funding from the Bertarelli Foundation as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science. K.J.H. acknowledges the support of Darwin Initiative Funding (grant number: 26-018); and M.E.H. and F.v.V. of NERC-GCRF (grant no.: NE/T010401/1) United Kingdom. BNF's work in Sebangau is conducted in partnership with the Centre for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands (UPT LLG CIMTROP) at the University of Palangka Raya, and is currently funded by the Arcus Foundation, The Orangutan Project, the Darwin Initiative (grant no. 25-001), Orangutan Appeal UK, US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund, Ocean Parks Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, European Outdoor Conservation Association and Global Wildlife Conservation. The authors thank Nigel Hawtin for his contribution to Figure?2.

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the following individuals for their helpful input to the manuscript: Brendan Godley, Jonathan Bennie, Conrad Shamlye of the Seychelles Public Health Authority; Tim Smit KBE, Executive Vice Chair & Co‐Founder Eden Project and Executive Co‐Chair Eden Project International; Bernat Ripoll Capilla; and April Burt. Two reviewers, Adriana Ford and Mike Perring, provided highly constructive feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript, for which they are very grateful. R.H.T. acknowledges the support of the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska‐Curie grant agreement MarHIST No 787671. Research into the Sri Lankan case study was supported by funding from the Bertarelli Foundation as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science. K.J.H. acknowledges the support of Darwin Initiative Funding (grant number: 26‐018); and M.E.H. and F.v.V. of NERC‐GCRF (grant no.: NE/T010401/1) United Kingdom. BNF's work in Sebangau is conducted in partnership with the Centre for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands (UPT LLG CIMTROP) at the University of Palangka Raya, and is currently funded by the Arcus Foundation, The Orangutan Project, the Darwin Initiative (grant no. 25‐001), Orangutan Appeal UK, US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund, Ocean Parks Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, European Outdoor Conservation Association and Global Wildlife Conservation. The authors thank Nigel Hawtin for his contribution to Figure 2 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology

Keywords

  • coronavirus
  • human–wildlife interactions
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • shocks
  • social–ecological systems
  • sustainability
  • tourism
  • zoonotic transmission

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