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Connectivity conservation law and adaptation. General concepts Barbara J. Lausche IUCN ELP. Points to cover:. What is connectivity conservation Benefits for climate change adaptation Role of law Marine connectivity – special issues Some key messages.

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connectivity conservation law and adaptation

Connectivity conservation law and adaptation

General concepts

Barbara J. Lausche


Points to cover:
  • What is connectivity conservation
  • Benefits for climate change adaptation
  • Role of law
  • Marine connectivity – special issues
  • Some key messages
I. What is connectivity conservation*:

…a conservation measure in environments modified or fragmentedby human impact and development for the purpose of -

  • Connecting habitats for wildlife movement between protected areas and enhance biodiversity conservation
  • Connecting ecological processes to maintain or restore ecological processes (e.g., water flows, pollination) for protected areas, biodiversity, and ecosystem goods and services needed by people.
  • Connecting evolutionary processes to permit gene flows and species range expansion.

(*Drawn from concept paper and scientific literature cited there, including Worboys, G.L., W.L.Francis, M. Lockwood. Connectivity Conservation Management: A Global Guide. 2010.)

landscape stepping stone and linear connections between protected areas
Landscape, stepping stone, and linear connections between protected areas



Adapted from: Chester and Hilty, 2010, p. 25; from Bennett 2004.


Wildlife refuge

Tourist sightseeing

Coastal fishing

Marine Protected area

In scientific literature, connectivity conservation

is acknowledged as –

a key part of nature conservation

required for effective protected area systems and networks

a major tool for reversing accelerating rates of biodiversity loss

a major global response tool for climate change adaptation.

How to define connectivity at a site --
  • Key principle: connectivity conservation is defined by the needs of the species or ecological processes of interest at that site.
  • Key considerations for management:
    • Physical space needed, small to large scale
    • Connectivity function that space supports
    • Climate change adaptation needs.
Examples of spatial scales:

Source: adapted from Bennett, A.F., 2003, Table 4-2, p. 60; and Bennett G, 2004, p. 6.

2. Benefits of connectivity conservation for climate change strategies

Some context -

  • Most of Earth’s biodiversity outside protected areas
  • Ability to adapt to climate change depends on their management
  • Connecting natural and semi-natural areas between and outside protected areas critical for protecting biodiversity and ecosystems and building resilience to climate change
  • Large contiguous habitats with greater species and genetic capacity likely to have more options for near-term and gradual adaptation to climate change.
Specific benefits of connectivity for adaptation –
  • Improves resilience of ecosystems to climate change
  • Aids natural movement of species to extend geographic range to more suitable climatic conditions.
  • Aids migrations of groups of co-adapted plants and animals with large tracts of continuous habitat


  • Facilitates continuity of specific species populations throughout their range to permit gene flow and range expansion
  • Creates adaptive corridors and networks that maximize the ability of species population to survive within the range
  • Links protected areas and associated ecosystems to build natural resilience.
  • Helps human communities adapt by building resilient natural systems to reduce vulnerabilities and disaster risks to people.
…and benefits for climate change mitigation:

Many ecosystems, particularly with forests in land and coastal areas, are significant carbon sinks, capturing and storing carbon .

Connectivity conservation practices benefiting biodiversity and climate change adaptation in many cases may also –

  • increase stability of natural landscapes/seascapes for carbon storage
  • expand carbon stocks through reforestation and restoration efforts.
Thus, connectivity can have co-benefits for:
  • Adaptation: provides flexibility for species and ecosystems to adapt to climate change impacts, adjust migrations, shifts in species range, maintain critical ecosystem functions,


  • mitigation: offers many opportunities that also protect existing carbon stocks in connectivity areas, and increase capacity to store more carbon.
3 role of law
3. Role of law:

Provide explicit authority to plan and manage connectivity actions for biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and, where possible, mitigation

Define clear financial commitments

Set forth clear science-based principles, goals and objectives for connectivity plans/actions

Define clear roles, responsibilities, requirements, decision-making processes

Provide certainty and consistency for planning, investment and sustainable development.

International and regional levels:

Most treaties in biodiversity, climate change, natural resources require or promote connectivity, e.g.:

CBD: need concerted efforts to integrate protected areas into landscapes/seascapes and sectors, including through connectivity, especially in the context of climate change (Dec. X/31, 2010).

UNFCCC/CBD collaboration: REDD-Plus potential to support connectivity for climate change adaptation as well as mitigation (CBD tech. series no. 59, 2011)

CMS: objectives for conservation of migratory species cannot be achieved without adequate connectivity (COP 2011).

National level – 3 main legislative options:

1. Specific legislation on connectivity –

  • Generic law
  • Law for specific corridor (usually large scale)

2. Other legislation with connectivity elements

  • Protected areas
  • General nature conservation, biodiversity conservation, environmental protection

3. Connectivity not explicit but needed for implementation

  • Special ecosystems (wetlands), services (water resources, soils)
  • Sustainable use (forests, wildlife, fisheries)
  • Sustainable development: land use planning, development control
tools for these legal instruments
Tools for these legal instruments:

Policies– e.g., national sustainable development, specific sectors (fisheries, energy), specific issues (biodiversity strategy, climate change)

Plans – e.g., conservation plans, environmental plans, climate change action, land use

Regulations – rules, standards requiring compliance

Incentives – financial, technical, educational, especially for voluntary action/environmental stewardship

Purchases of land or rights – increasingly rare

Markets – habitat banking, conservation credits

Combinations are most effective – e.g., national policy plus supportive regulations and incentives.

Governance considerations:
  • Many tenure variations –important connectivity areas will be on non-state lands.
  • Especially with large-scale connectivity conservation areas – mix of tenure arrangements and many owners.
  • Landholders and user interests may vary widely -- private individuals, indigenous and local communities, corporations, NGOs, other groups.
  • Shared governance should be recognized in law
  • Incentives for voluntary conservation critical, including how to access, technical assistance, and education for climate change adaptation.
4 marine connectivity special considerations
4. Marine connectivity – special considerations:

Unique natural features and threats

Biodiversity and ecosystem processes less well understood, especially connectivity

Complex coastal-marine interrelations

Very large areas, EEZs

National jurisdiction subject to international law in some aspects, UNCLOS

High vulnerability to climate change, impacts not well known.


Whale Shark

Photo by Marj Awai


“Rio Lady”

Female (7.5 m TL)

29 AUG


Kohler, Casey and Turner (1998) NMFS Cooperative Shark Tagging Program, 1962-93: An Atlas of Shark Tag and Recapture Data. Marine Fisheries Review 60(2)1-87.

24 JAN


Photo by Marj Awai


U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conventional tag returns

from pelagic sharks

Kohler, Casey and Turner (1998) NMFS Cooperative Shark Tagging Program, 1962-93: An Atlas of Shark Tag and Recapture Data. Marine Fisheries Review 60(2)1-87.

Illustration of local seascape connectivity:

Source: Grober-Dunsmore et al, p. 499 (Fig. 14.2)

special legal concepts to support marine connectivity and adaptation
Special legal concepts to support marine connectivity and adaptation:

Large-scale management for MPA networks, including high seas

Integrated coastal and marine resource management-- special governance issues

Marine spatial planning – plan ocean uses

Ocean zoning -- give effect to plans with regulation and monitoring

Conclusion -- some key messages:
  • Connectivity conservation has essential role in biodiversity and ecosystem adaptation to climate change.
  • Emerging international law and strategies, such as UNFCCC/CBD collaboration and REDD-Plus, can support projects that may deliver co-benefits for biodiversity and climate change strategies.
  • Many legal instruments and tools already exist at national level with which to begin connectivity actions now before critical areas are lost to development.
  • Incentives for voluntary connectivity conservation essential, with education and technical assistance to manage also for climate change adaptation, and as appropriate, mitigation.
IUCN ELC project:

The legal aspects of connectivity conservation: a concept paper


Barbara Lausche, USA/protected areas law

David Farrier, Australia/common law land use

Jonathan Verschuuren, Netherlands/civil law land use

Antonio G.M. La Vina, Philippines/UNFCCC-REDD

ArieTrouwborst, Netherlands/international/reg’l law

Charles Hubert-Bonn, Belgium/EU law

Project Director: Francoise Burhenne-Guilmin,

Senior Counsel

IUCN Environmental Law Centre, Bonn