Connectivity and sustainable land use in rapidly developing, biodiversity-rich countries

We are working on a new project to build connections with conservation practitioners and decision makers in developing countries with high biodiversity. The aim is to strengthen our case for future funding to inform spatial decision making in those areas. We have already made valuable connections in Indonesia, Malaysia and Ghana and held our first virtual meeting, which was very informative.

Our online focus group included representatives from Jambi University, Bogor Agricultural University and Daemeter Consulting, Indonesia; South-east Asia Rainforest Research Partnership, Malaysia; Forest Research Institute and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and Universities of York and Liverpool, UK.

We discussed the various threats to biodiversity on a global scale and those specific to each location. We discovered who is responsible for decision making in each region and who might be interested in joining the Condatis network. The key issue was to determine what could make Condatis more useful for potential users in these locations.

Several broad themes emerged. Common threats to biodiversity were poaching, fire, changes of land use and deforestation. Habitat connectivity was seen as an important issue that is increasingly considered in spatial planning. It was felt that Condatis could be useful as an aid in connecting remnant habitat and planning for restoration. The predominant improvement suggested for Condatis was to incorporate the selection and definition of suitable habitat for species, and adaptation to take account of degradation of habitat through things like fire and agri-chemical use. This ties in with feedback from UK users who have suggested that representing habitat quality and barriers such as roads would be useful additions to the software.

Over the next few months we will be working with a new software developer to plan the next steps for the development of Condatis. The suggestions and feedback from the initial focus group will be used to inform these developments along with previous feedback from UK users. We will also be working with the contacts we have made through this project to learn more about the needs of spatial decision makers in developing countries and to identify links with the goals of the Condatis network. We would be keen to connect with any relevant contacts you may have in DAC-listed countries, so please put us in touch with anyone who may be interested.